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August 2nd, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Why millennials need the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - For a time, I counted myself among the spiritual but not religious, Christian but not churchgoing crowd.

Like many millennials, I left church because I didn’t always see the compassion of Jesus there, and because my questions about faith and science, the Bible, homosexuality, and religious pluralism were met with shallow answers or hostility.

At first I reveled in my newfound Sunday routine of sleeping in, sipping my coffee and yelling at Republicans who appeared on ”Meet the Press.”

But eventually I returned, because, like it or not, we Christian millennials need the church just as much as the church needs us. Here’s why:

Baptism

As former Methodist bishop Will Willimon has often said, “you cannot very well baptize yourself.”

In a culture that stresses individualism, the church satisfies the human need for community, for shared history and experiences.

And in a world where technology enables millennials to connect only with those who are like-minded, baptism drags us - sometimes kicking and screaming as infants - into the large, dysfunctional and beautiful family of the church.

Confession

“Sin” is not a popular word these days, perhaps because it is so often invoked in the context of judgment and condemnation.

But like all people, millennials need reminding now and then that the hate and violence we observe in the world is also present within ourselves.

We can be too idealistic, too convinced we can change the world from our iPads.

The accountability that comes from participation in a local church gives young Christians the chance to speak openly about our struggles with materialism, greed, gossip, anger, consumerism and pride.

Healing

While the flawed people who make up the church can certainly inflict pain on each other and sometimes on the world, we also engage in the important work of healing.

At their best, local churches provide basements where AA groups can meet, living rooms where tough conversations about racial reconciliation occur, casseroles for the sick and shelter for the homeless.

Millennials who have been hurt by the church may later find healing in it.

Leadership

Like a lot of millennials, I am deeply skeptical of authority - probably to a fault.

But when I interact with people from my church who have a few years and a lot of maturity on me, I am reminded of how cool it is to have a free, built-in mentoring and accountability program just down the street.

We can learn a lot from the faithful who have gone before us, and the church is where we find them.

Communion

One of the few things the modern church has in common with the ancient one is its celebration of the sacred meal— the Eucharist.

There is simply not the space here, nor in many volumes of theology for that matter, to unpack the significance of remembering Jesus through eating bread and drinking wine. But when I left the church, it was Communion I craved the most.

Churches may disagree on exactly how Christ is present in these sacred meals, but we agree that Christ is present. And millennials, too, long for that presence.

There are some days when the promise of Communion is the only thing that rouses me from bed on Sunday morning. I want a taste of that mystery.

Confirmation

Many churches practice a rite of initiation, sometimes called confirmation.

Theologian Lauren Winner, in her book “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis,” quotes a friend who said:

“What you promise when you are confirmed is not that you will believe this forever. What you promise when you are confirmed is that that is the story you will wrestle with forever.”

The church, at its best, provides a safe place in which to wrestle with this story we call the Gospel.

Union with Christ

Those who follow Jesus long for the day when their communion with him becomes complete, and Jesus promises this will happen through the church.

The apostle Paul compared this union to a marriage. Jesus describes it as a banquet.

No matter what the latest stats or studies say, Christians believe the future of the church is secure and not even “the gates of hell” will prevail against it.

As much as I may struggle to fit in sometimes, as much as I doubt, question and fight for reforms, I am a part of this church, through good times and bad, for better or worse.

The astute reader will notice that each of these points corresponds loosely with a sacrament—baptism, confession, the anointing of the sick, holy orders, communion, confirmation and marriage.

Some would say there are many others. We could speak of the sacrament of the Word or the washing of feet.

But even where they are not formally observed, these sacraments are present in some form in nearly every group of people who gather together in the name of Jesus.

They connect us to our faith through things we can eat, touch, smell and feel. And they connect us with one another.

They remind us, as writer and Episcopal priest Sara Miles put it, that “You can’t be a Christian by yourself.”

This is why I haven’t given up on the church, and I suspect why it hasn't given up on me.

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 her.

Evans has written two previous posts for CNN's Belief Blog: Why millennials are leaving the church; and Not all religious convictions are written in stone.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Faith • Opinion • United States

soundoff (4,825 Responses)
  1. Tallus

    The more people leave the church, the more people who start thinking for themselves and form opinions based on sound rational thinking (rather than being told their opinion from the writings of people from 1500 years ago), the better off we'll be as a society.

    Telling people they need the church is like telling someone they need to have a rock dropped on their foot. The church does nothing more than teach people to hate, to be ashamed of themselves and their bodies and their natural functions, and causes more pain and suffering around the world than any other force in history. Bad people come in all forms, but there is literally nothing a good religious person can do that wouldn't or couldn't be done by someone with a secular outlook, and plenty awful that ONLY ever gets done with a religious overtone. Look at all the people who slaughtered their kids because they think god told them to. Look at all the suffering caused by people like Mother Teresa who told folks to embrace their poverty and, or Pope Palpatine who said condoms are a sin to the entire continent of Africa. Religious doctrine needs to go away. It's holding us back as a species and is denying us the beautiful, safe, free future we all deserve.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  2. Vinnie

    This article is a misrepresentation of church and religion. I believe what you are trying to say is that all people, not just millennials, need a community support system. I'm sorry, but there is way too much baggage that goes along with religion for 'the church' to get a pass as a great place to feel accepted.

    Religion, on every level, is a scam to take your money. If you want community, join or bowling league. At least you get something back from it.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • counter

      Sounds like you care about your money too much.

      "You cannot serve God and mammon".... guess money is , IS your God.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @counter, money is simply a tool. don't be a dunce.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Jon

      Your sweeping generalization regarding communities of faith bears little to no resemblance of the experience had by people who believe and the work done within many congregations to be in service to others, to be in communion with others, and to work responsibly in the world. Sadly, not all within the church do this well, particularly when it comes to those who exist outside the community of faith or who don't ascribe to a particular doctrine or mindset. They are as close-minded and filled with assumption and generalization as you are. Congrats on being no better in your estimation of the church as you accuse the church of being.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  3. Dan Crane

    These posts are quite a litany of condemnation from the free thinking, everyone has a right to their own beliefs, we can all do as we please as long as we don't kill each other crowd. I wonder, even though it is the most impactful book written in the history of the world, how many of you have actually read the bible prior to expressing your antagonism?

    August 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      @Dan Crane,

      They cherry pick. Take things out of context and think Christin are still living in the Old Testament under the law of Moses.

      They blame God for mankind's failings, expecting and wondering why a God doesn't get involve in mankind's affairs. (and hasn't since the New Testament)

      The lack of comprehension to what is meant by a 'free will' to chose your own destiny. Blinded by religion and it's corruption of God, and miss led by ignorant by article like this.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Alex

      Atheists read and study the Bible and know more about than most Christians.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Nancy Ruffin

      Right on Dan. I've been wondering about this myself.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • snowboarder

      though I spent my entire young life in parochial school, I was never moved to faith by the stories. they were absurd and unbelievable even to me then as a child.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Harry Cline

        @snowboarder,

        Mankind's greatest curse, organized religion. A God get's loss in translation.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • snowboarder

          you would think a "god" would be able to get his point across. a woefully inadequate god indeed.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          @snowboarder,

          Mankind tends to be deaf, dumb and blind at times.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • OTOH

          Harry Cline,
          "Mankind tends to be deaf, dumb and blind at times."

          As I recall, all of those infirmities were cured by "God" or "Jesus" with a simple wiggle of their noses... how could they be so stymied at getting their message across properly?

          August 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @harry, especially when confronted with such obviously flawed material from a god so thoroughly unworthy of praise.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Doobs

      I went to parochial school for twelve years and taught in parochial school after college. I was devoutly religious for fifty years and studied the bible in several languages with a private tutor for more than ten years.

      It's amazing that Christians continue to arrogantly assume that anyone who disagrees with them does so out of ignorance. For many of us, it was the study of the bible that directly led to our disbelief.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • hee hee

        Yes, reading the bible was one of the things that led me to disbelief. I just found it impossible to reconcile with reality.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • OTOH

        I know, Doobs, so many of them seem to think that we just rode into town on a load of pumpkins.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • hee hee

      (1) How does expressing disagreement interfere with anyone's right to believe what they choose? Why should a comment board on a religious article be free from opinions other than yours?

      (2) I've read about 1/3 of the bible. Some day I may read it cover to cover, but when I do, I will no more use it as a source for my cosmological views than the epic of gilgamesh. It's definitely of historical and cultural interest; you'll find no argument from me about that. This is not a controversial view among atheists, by the way – you should meet some!

      (3) Have you read other cultural sources such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Poetic Edda? The Poetic Edda is particularly important historically; most of northern Europe believed in the gods in that book before Christianity.

      (4) Have you read about the history of your own religion? I highly recommend it.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Sue

        Fantastic post, hee hee. And as that great saying says, beware the man of one book.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • skytag

      I've read it, studied it, read many parts too many times to count, and can still quote the occasional verse. It's a book of good philosophies and fairytales. Happy now?

      August 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  4. No Gods, No Masters

    Millennials need church because church helps reinforce the delusions necessary to sustain Christianity. If churches start losing their grasp on the youth, they know it's only a matter of generations before they lose their hold on all of us. The only difference between the religion of Jesus and the religion of Zeus is the number of living people who believe in each myth.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Not really, all that is required is for the church to be oppressed and it will grow like mad.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Sam Yaza

        its the martyr complex,.. maybe that's the reason why Islam is growing so large right now. Christians should learn from their own teaching. stop oppression Islam or Islam will be on top....

        August 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          I believe an Islamic revival is coming to Europe.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • skytag

      Don't kid yourself. There will always be plenty of people who prefer a comforting fairytale over harsh realities.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  5. Randy W

    While church is fine and dandy for those that crave the communal aspects it brings, it should be accepted that you can have a relationship with God and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ without having to belong to a church. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." – not through a priest, a pastor, or any mentioned organization.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Whenever 2 or 3 come together in my name, I will be there also. Large groups do not get that kind of personal Jesus.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • Sue

        So your all-powerful fairy can't handle a crowd. Uh huh.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          I do not know why Christ like 2 or 3. Perhaps it was the thousands that would crowd up on him during his 70 weeks of evangelism.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • Jon

          I'm glad that rational atheism leads people to stop being judgmental and hateful.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • G to the T

      The typical Catholic answer is that Jesus also said that his church would be based on the line of Peter. It's Luther that decided to ignore the words of Jesus.

      Not that I believe he was actually the first Pope of Rome...

      August 6, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  6. Pope the 3rd Reign

    To those who question the God Myth, noone exactly knows what happens after death. It is skeptical to say that we see nothing now, so nothing is on the other side. We haven't even unlocked the entire function of our brain, nor do we understand it.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • skytag

      Until I see some form objective evidence there is a God and an afterlife I will continue to hold the position neither exists, just as I believe vampires and leprechauns don't exist.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Mad King George suffered from the vampire disease. but you don't believe in such things.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • snowboarder

          it didn't even make a particularly good movie.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Inbreeding leads to these sorts of genetic problems. If the movie had shown George drinking human blood to get well it might have been better.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • Tallus

          That's because vampires don't exist. They're a myth. Just like Jesus.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          I just provided you with an example of a vampire and yet you continue to deny what is real.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, that is no more an example of a vampire than jesus is an example of a god.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • David

      What is your point? Atheists are quite content to say "we don't know" until such time as there is some real information. The religious make things up to make them feel better. It is the open minded approach that is willing to say that we don't know that will find answers. Those that have already made up an answer have shut the door on investigating the mystery.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Atheists are unable to let go of science that has been shown to be false and suppress relativity since 1919.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Please be more specific. What science ihas been proven false and what do you mean by suppressing relativity?

          August 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          You don't seem to understand how science works if you think relativity was suppressed. The theory was verified over time by experiment. That isn't suppression. That's how science works.

          Also, atheists and scientists are not mutually inclusive groups. You may want to rethink your inaccurate conflation of the two.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:42 am |
      • Jon

        Actually, what you say is a generalization. Someone who adopts the idea of rationalism and scientific evidence ought to have the same care in his estimation of people of faith based on an idea to seek the truth. Or perhaps you just enjoy going on assumption whenever it suits you. There are thousands of volumes of books by theologians and philosophers, church groups, sermons, reflections on the Bible, and conversations about faith that are predicated on a search for truth in the complexity of the world and existence that come from the point of saying "I don't know." These questions stem not from areas that are easily proven through scientific investigation, but through ideas of existentialism and human interaction, through a search for meaning and purpose in life and the place of the individual within the wider human community. Yes, some people do look to religion for comfort and for the easy answer. However, to claim that there are no big questions within the community of faith is disingenuous and shows a lack of understanding of the broad scope of religious thought. I would point you to Paul Tillich, Dietrich Boenhoeffer, and Karl Barth for starters (yes, all German and all Lutheran theologians) as a stepping point. Another example would be the struggle of faith of C.S. Lewis, which provides an interesting and complex look at the world from the perspective of one who came to faith.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @pope, but a few facts make the possibility of an afterlife less likely, such as the fact that man has invented innumerable deities, doctrines and religions. suspecting that one particular religion based on a rather absurd premise as "original" and "hereditary" sin and the requirement for a divine "blood sacrifice" is way beyond my ability to take on "faith".

      August 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Everything you experience is though your central nervous system and brain. when the electricity stops...that's it, no more life. To see, hear and feel you need a living body.

      Unless you believe in ghosts...in which case....:)

      August 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  7. Daryl

    Hey, if people want to talk to their imaginary friend who am I to judge?

    August 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The only reason to even question faith in God is if your own leap of faith is in conflict with God.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • tallulah13

        And, of course, the utter lack of evidence that god (any god) actually exists. Lack of evidence is probably the best reason to question belief in anything.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Faith and hope and love are some good delusions.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, unless people begin to use those delusions to attempt to curtail the rights of their peers.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Reality based faith, hope and love are wonderful emotions. When you are venerating a delusion. they are useless.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • Tallus

        Faith, hope and love are testable emotions that are linked to certain parts of the brain and to chemicals functioning therein.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  8. Tim Jordan

    Please remember God can do anything you want as long as you send him...wait for it...money. This is what faith does to people: take their money and in return provide snake-oil salesmen who'll provide comforting falsehoods and so-domize their children. What a great deal...

    August 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Don't forget the youth programs that introduce your daughters to hard drugs then knock them up and sell the babies.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • Tim Jordan

        You mean like D.A.R.E. and faith-based abstinence programs, I guess?

        August 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Those youth Pastors right out of prison are the best, but the Klansman needs the income from those babies.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • G to the T

          Ah "abstinence programs"... Nothing encourages or.al or an.al se.x like "purity promises"... lol

          August 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • skytag

      God can't do anything because he doesn't exist, but your cynicism isn't warranted. Churches do a lot of good, and they need money to operate. What they teach about God doesn't have to be true for them to help their people, the people just have to believe it.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  9. Portland tony

    If you were born in a technological society like ours without a religion would you invent or need one? Or would you look to science to solve now unexplainable phenomena??

    August 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • snowboarder

      many of the unknowns which attributed to the development of religion have already been answered scientifically. a modern religion would develop a decidedly different doctrine.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        I am pretty certain science validates Saint John's take on the nature of the universe.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
        • tallulah13

          I'm pretty certain believers can and will distort and rationalize anything in order to make it appear to defend their belief. This leads to falsehood, bad science and misrepresentation of good science.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • snowboarder

          sure it does.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          It is the atheist that has opposed math and science since 1919.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • snowboarder

          sure it has. source?

          August 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          The atheist nut jobs at Wiki have a fake definition of relativity up right now, see for yourself.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          What do you mean by relativity? Please provide a specific URL for the wiki article.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          You want me to go look up a word on Wiki for you? What a maroon.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          From Wiki:

          ",Relativity may refer to:"

          Phyics:

          Galilean relativity, Galileo's conception of relativity
          Numerical relativity, a subfield of computational physics that aims to establish numerical solutions to Einstein's field equations in general relativity
          Principle of relativity, used in Einstein's theories and derived from Galileo's principle
          Theory of relativity, a general treatment that refers to both special relativity and general relativity
          General relativity, Albert Einstein's theory of gravitation
          Special relativity and Introduction to special relativity, a theory formulated by Albert Einstein, Henri Poincaré, and Hendrik Lorentz

          Social Science . . .

          Popular Culture . . ."

          Again, azzhole, what specifically are *you* referring too?

          August 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  10. Thought Purification

    people have nothing but exc uses........ why they did it -or what made them do that

    August 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  11. eprobono

    There are so many flaws in Rachel Held Evan's essay that I can't decide where to start deconstructing them. Because I don't want to waste more than a few minutes of my time on religious matters, I'll list a couple and leave it there.

    First, she seems to assume that others buy into the fantasy of god and Christ. Many of us who have ditched religion did so upon realizing that religious dogma, religious practice, and biblical scripture is illogical and impractical and cannot hold up under any rational analysis. It's our rejection of faith in outmoded, irrational beliefs, rites and behaviors that led us to break free of our religious upbringing.

    Second, most of this article focuses on the social and interpersonal aspects that religious organizations provide to/for their members. All the social and interpersonal needs she mentions can be gained through numerous secular alternatives. For example, I've made new social contacts at the gym, found personal fulfillment through my volunteer work at the homeless shelter, and experienced intellectual challenge through adult education classes at the local university.

    All these do not require me to listen to the sanctimonious, nonsensical, and hypercritical rants from the clergy and laity. Plus, through my participation across multiple organizations I meet a more diverse and broader spectrum of society.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Coug9

      People have been buying into the God "fantasy" using their "rationality and logic" since the beginning of time. It is sad to see you write off the existence of God so easily. Remember that only a few centuries ago, science told us that the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe. Science changes every day, and is extremely limited in its understanding of the universe.
      Scientific "facts" change. Science gets it wrong, and frankly, often! Despite humanities best efforts, God doesn't change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That may sound like hocus pocus to some. But I would ask you a simple question: How do YOU know that there is not a God? You mention "reason" and "logic", but I challenge your reason and logic! Using your logic, one could argue that your denial of God's existence is just as ignorant as my acceptance of God's existence.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • snowboarder

        it is hokus pokus coug, just like the innumerable other gods invented by man.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  12. Jerry Bruette

    Love it. Well said.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  13. Michigan Mom

    Based on my experience, the church is not at best a safe place in which to wrestle with the Gospel, as noted by Rachel. No "wrestling" is allowed – if you ask questions or have doubts, you are seen as not having enough faith and trust in God nor in the leadership and Biblical interpretation of the pastors. There is very little room for opposing opinions.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Doobs

      Bingo!

      August 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • skytag

      If the people start thinking too much the whole thing crumbles. Can't have that.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • Old Paddlin Guy

        Yep....that's a paddlin'.....

        August 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Follow that Judas goat pastor to the silence of the lambs.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  14. bubba

    everyone needs the church (bible is very clear what false teachers are ect) they took church out of everything pretty much and the world is getting worse......mmmmmmmmm

    August 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • snowboarder

      these are some of the most peaceful times in the history of humanity.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Dan

      I'm always mystified by this statement. How is the world getting worse? What decade (century?) would you prefer to live in?

      August 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Doobs

      Your screen name becomes you.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Tim Jordan

      You saying it was better during the Middle Ages when the church was running everything?

      August 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • skytag

      You've obviously never taken a history class.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • David

      Have you ever read any real history? The world, why far from perfect, is getting better. We live longer, have greater freedoms, better health, and more self determination. People who long for the past should just go live in Somalia or some other region still stuck in the past.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Tallus

      The only places in the world that are "worse" are places that are saturated with religious fundamentalism. You'll notice that the secular places of the world are totally at peace and doing quite well. They only suffer problems when the religious nutjobs import themselves.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Gracie

      There is actually a great deal of evidence that as a whole mankind has become less violent (Read, for example, The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker). We are more aware of inhumane acts and wars because of globalization and the Internet, but violence has actually declined. In addition, despite areas which lag behind, as a whole the idea that no human being has the right to enslave or abuse another due to differences in gender, religion, nationality, etc. have spread only relatively recently in human history. This is not to say that it isn't still horrifying to see the abuse and violence we still inflict on one another, on animals, and on our planet, but you would have to be basing your views of the past on fiction to think that life was better for the vast majority of human beings in any historical period that I can think of.

      August 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  15. skytag

    It's interesting that by and large the benefits people cite from believing in God and belonging to a church virtually never require that God be real, only that people believe he is real.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      I like the synchronicity.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That's how con artists work. They convince you that you are benefiting, even as you give them your money.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • skytag

        I find the money angle offensive and unwarranted. I've known a lot of Christians in my life, and while don't believe in God the Christians I've known have been very sincere and the churches I've known have used money donated to the church to cover the expenses of running the church. Of course that won't always be true, and I definitely have issues with mega-churches that collect large sums of money, but smaller churches, which make up the vast majority of them, are not scamming people in my experience.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Skytag

          You clearly WANT the churches to be better than they actually are. The Mormon church that you seem to have a soft spot for I too know VERY well – lets just say that you and I have had VERY different experiences with Mormons. And that church is absolutely one of the most corrupt of the bunch. Some of the people are ok...but they are the minority by far.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          The Mormon at least have unpaid clergy, so some of their leaders might be Christians.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          They are shameless when it comes to recruiting prominent business leaders. Men like Romney's dad that literally ran AMC into the ground and lobbied Washington to loosen the tariffs on foreign cars just to try and kill the UAW.

          Once successfully recruited, these guys are fast tracked to the top of the Church. Even at the local level its pretty bad...very, very cliquish.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • no...

          John P. Tarvor,

          The LDS church doesn't pay their clergy below a certain level, but once you reach 'General Authority' status, the Church does acknowledge that a 'living allowance' is given. Not that that really matters, most of the Church officials at that level are by that stage very wealthy anyway. Some have said this allowance is actually quite high. As the Church keeps all money matters completely guarded it is left to speculation.

          all the same, I fail to see why a church would need to focus on corporate and real estate acquisition – with the hardline Mormons take on ti thing, – you get to see the your bishop regularly to confirm you are a 'full ti the payer', you would think the LDS Church be free of such needs.

          August 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  16. Yuck_Go_away

    her 'holy hole'

    August 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  17. JesusNotReligion

    ***CORRECTED VERSION...MY APOLOGIES***

    Just a clarification...Being a "Christian" is about being a "Worshipper" & "Follower" of the "Jesus" of the Bible...If the Bible is not the sole sufficient authority for faith & practice then it's a free for all...You can believe whatever you want, including Santa Claus...
    Here are some "churches" and/or "religious organizations" that name "Jesus" but have ADDED to the Bible concerning His "Person" and/or "Finished" Work and/or HOW He is to be personally received unto salvation
    ROMAN CATHOLICISM
    JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
    MORMON'S
    SEVENTH DAY ADVENTST'S
    CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
    And... MOST "MAINSTREAM" **TRADITIONAL** DENOMINATIONS and MOST PENTECOSTAL DENOMINATIONS espousing "new revelation(s)" in the name of God, that do damage to the truth of Scripture, etc...

    WHAT DO ALL THE ABOVE HAVE IN COMMON?..."Traditions of men" from one degree to another...Extra-biblical "revelation" that usurps and undermines the Sole Sufficent Authority of the Bible in the name of "Religion", whether it's a "Papal decree" made "ex-cathedra" (Latin for "from the chair"–i.e. The supposed "chair" of Peter, the "supposed" first "Pope") or from "Charles Taze Russell"/ "The Watchtower", the Mormon "Prophets & Apostles", or new revelation from "Mary Eddy Baker", "Ellen G. White...or for that matter, "Edgar Cayce" or "Paramahansa Yogananda" representing an occultic & hindu "Jesus"..

    This article wreaks of what Jesus deemed as "the traditions of men", which usurp and undermine Sole Authority of the Bible and it's final "authoritative revelation"...There is hardly anything "Biblically" representative of the "Jesus" of the Bible in this article. She spent most of her time writing about the "doctrines of men" that a particular "denomination" espouses (most likely "RomanCatholicism" "Episcopalian" or "Lutheran" (Traditional). What it DOES represent is the traditions of men who ADDED to the Bible, forming "RELIGION", a mere shell and facade of the Biblical "Jesus"...I'VE BEEN THERE AND EXPERIENCED IT (i.e. THE "RELIGION" OF WHICH I AM REFERENCING)...

    I am honestly burdened for those who are truly seeking "Jesus" (the Jesus of the Bible) and His "new birth" salvation of which He taught about in John 3 because the mainstream articles that are written about "Him" in this "information-age" (like the one above) is filled with "RELIGION"-i.e. Man's "man-made "faith & practice" that promotes a "religious", "God-experience" on their terms and ultimately for their own self-justification-Lord Jesus, have mercy! I thank you that you 'call your sheep out by name' as you taught us in John 10...and your "sheep hear your voice and follow (YOU)", NOT RELIGION!

    August 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Chris Davis

      I agree 100% with JesusNotReligion.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • skytag

      I don't think it's appropriate to attack specific churches here, and I for sure don't think anyone here respects you authority to judge any church.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • JesusNotReligion

        I understand your concern but my greater concern is for the truth of God's Word to get out there. If you are part of any of the denominations I did list (and there are mamy more) then it is my hope (and the reason I listed them) that you would be like the "Bereans" of Acts 17 and "search the SCRIPTURES DAILY to see if these things are so". My exposing certain false teachings and/or their affiliate denominations/organizations is actually "Biblical"...I encourage you and pray that you will "search the Scriptures daily"...I do, however, appreciate your commemt...Thank you...

        August 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • skytag

          Like most religious fanatics you seem to be a slow learner. Why would anyone consider someone posting anonymously on the web to an authority on the Bible?

          Until you can come up with some objective evidence any of it is true it's my position that it's all a fairytale.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • JesusNotReligion

          No who ever gave you the idea that I, or any other follower of Jesus, is on this planet to CONVINCE you of the Biblical truth that we hold? Do you really think that that is why I posted herein...to convince YOU? Sorry to burst your bubble but I'm here to "preach" NOT "convince"...The convincing part is God's responsibility...If you don't want it then move on with the faith you have been excercising herein...

          August 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
        • Tallus

          People who are already convinced that the bible is a disgusting work, one written by men and not influenced by any mythological skyman, are getting real tired of you trying to insist your beliefs are true. They're also getting real tired of you exporting your beliefs to places where the people don't know any better. Your beliefs are a plague.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          For your ability to search the Scriptures daily, the Roman Catholic Church says "You're welcome."

          August 8, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Stan

      Well said, and I would add that our Lord commands us to gather together and worship, but to do so in Spirit and in truth. We don't need some Dr. Phil or Joel olsteen happy message, just the truth which saves, heals and comforts all who ask for it, and repent and begin to serve Him.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • Athy

        The Lord commands us to worship him? What a self-centered prick he must be. No way I could "worship" such a jerk.

        August 8, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • bubba

      Jesus is the way and the only way to get to the Father , man has made his own standards and his own rules to benefit himself but God has standards.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • skytag

      Has anyone bothered to tell you the Bible didn't exist at the time anything in it was written? There's no good argument for believing God would never reveal anything after the Bible was created. Mostly I think people say that so they don't have to deal with determining if something should be considered new "revelation."

      August 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
      • snowboarder

        a very salient point.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
      • JesusNotReligion

        And did anyone ever tell you that you (and snowboarder who apparently agrees with you) just made a STATEMENT OF "FAITH"?
        I am well aware of the fact that I did as well, but I don't think you are. You will be surprised at how often we make statements of faith as we go about our business in a normal day. Faith is a way of every day life and decision-making...but that's not "SAVING FAITH"...Saving faith has as its OBJECT the Biblical "Jesus" (His Person & Finished Work and HOW He is to be personally received 2,000 years removed from His 1st coming)...Btw: The story isn't over yet...He will return a 2nd time, not for "sin" but for judgment and for the final deliveramce of those who have believed in Him unto eternal life (seeHebrews 9:27)...BELIEVE IT OR NOT, either way you will be excercising a form of "faith"...

        August 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • snowboarder

          nonsense. the bible is a collection of myths and legends, like all other religions.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Faith: pretending to know something you don't.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • skytag

          More proof religion makes people stupid. Hey numbnuts, the Bible is a collection of works. Those works had to be written to be chosen to be part of that collection. It's a matter of historical fact as well as logic and common sense that everything in the Bible predates the Bible. Get a brain.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Tallus

          Forming an opinion based on historical data and facts is the farthest thing from "faith." "Faith" is a belief in something without any reason to believe it, without evidence, facts or anything to actually hold onto. Religion is a faith-based initiative. History is called such because it actually happened, and it's still going to be true whether you have faith in it or not.

          Think about this...if all our history and science and math books, and all the religious texts, just vanished all of a sudden...in a hundred years, all the history, science and math would be restored to exactly how it was before. The religions would all be brand new. The reason for that is that facts don't disappear; they'll be rediscovered in the exact same way as before. Religion is entirely fictional and it would never be recreated the same way twice. The problem you religious folks have is that you see science adding more knowledge to itself and you claim that the entire body of evidence has changed. You don't understand that adding knowledge is merely expanding on what we already knew, because we found more evidence. You ignore the part where, for example, in evolution of man, science states "as far as we currently know," because it relies on FINDING things in order to KNOW more things. Finding a more ancient skeleton than the one we previously based our knowledge on doesn't negate everything else we already knew. It just means we existed 'in that area' for longer in history than we previously understood.

          But I bet you'll be happy to try using science to try to disprove science, like the creationists who think they can disprove evolution.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • JesusNotReligion

          @Tallus...I guess we'll just have to die to find out the truth of the matter, right! But I hope you know that there have been many,many hundreds of so-called "scientists" who have falsified their data and IT WENT INTO PRINT...And then some unsuspecting person like yourself finds his (or her) way to that suposedly "authoritative textbook" of "science" and drinks it in by FAITH. No real way to "objectively" verify this Scientist's work, leaving you with only FAITH, albeit not "saving faith"...Just because it's written in what is supposed to be an authoritative, accepted book doesn't make it true....Wouldn't you agree?

          I have forgetten where I saw the doc umemtary about how "Scientist's", in their quest for seeking more "grants", have falsified information in order to fund their particular work (careers) and organization...This is not surprising since the Bible has deemed all of us "sinners" and "liars"...seeking material gain through exploitation in one form or another...

          August 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @religion, it is a very safe bet that there have been far more theological frauds than scientific ones.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          No, when you die, you don't know anything at all, much less if there is or is not some god or other. Even Ecclesiastes 9:5 says so.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          JNR might have a point. Just look at the number of believers in The Babble and a divine jesus despite there not bing a single bit of factual, objective, independent or verifiable evidence for either. Religious charlatans have been very good at getting their unsupported fabrications accepted as facts for centuries.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • JesusNotReligion

          @snowboarder...Agreed, I think...I have no real way of knowing...But I do know that I specifically posted against this article because of the very "religious fraud" that it represents in the hope that others might question what they are reading and believing (especially in the "name of Jesus")...Take a look at the Jehovah's Witness who responded to me below, and my repsonse to him (or her?)...this is why I posted....Not to debate with those who are unbelievers but to challenge those who name the name of "Jesus" in their own domesticated way, which does great damage ro the true "Jesus ofmthe Bible"...

          August 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • counter

        Sounds like you don't even bother figuring out how precise the scribes were when they wrote down the "stories" and followed strict methods to ensure accuracy from the original. In both the Old and New Testament this is true.

        What is really boils down to is being held accountable for you and your actions. Jesus came to be with us and in us. His death on the cross does this for us along with the resurrection, setting the path for us to resurrected. He beat death and sin so we can beat it when these coats we live in, our bodies, are shed.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • OTOH

      JNR,

      And where do you think that you got all of this info and all of those quotes, allegedly from "God" and "Jesus"? From religion... starting with the old Hebrew religion and phasing on to the Christian one, and compiled by religion into the book you follow.

      Now, if "Jesus" spoke or speaks to you directly with this info and quotes - without you ever having heard or read that stuff, well, we'd sure like to have evidence of that...

      August 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • ReadsHistory

      This ignores the fact that the bible itself is a tradition of men–a collection of writings based on oral stories handed down over centuries. Even books of the new testament were first put in writing about 100 years after Jesus of Nazareth walked the hills of Judea. The bible is a collection of writings about religious and cultural traditions and stories, with various books included and removed over centuries, with the current composition not being agreed to (again, by men) until the Fifth Century. Keep all this in mind whenever someone tells you this is the indisputable word of god. If it is, he's had a lot of editors.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • JesusNotReligion

        Were you there? No...Yet another example of another person making a "statement of faith"...Just like me only different...

        August 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
        • skytag

          Yet another religious nut job desperate to deny realities he doesn't want to face. I'm betting you weren't there either.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
        • JesusNotReligion

          Yet another fallen human being verbally assaulting another fallen human being who has been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in the Person & Finished work of Jesus Christ alone...simply for sharing this faith so that others my also come into this great salvation...I haven't attacked you (as a person) for your pathetic, faith-based views...Have I? Move on if you don't agree...

          August 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • MMTT123

      The modern-day organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses began at the end of the 19th century with a small group of sincere Bible students, among them Charles Taze Russell. Russell took the lead of the Bible education work and was the first editor of The Watchtower, but since Jesus is the Founder of Christianity, we view Him and not Russell, as the founder of our organization. Now this organization is not a new religion. We simply promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and follow the practices of the first-century Christian congregation. In regards to supposed "Traditions of men" , we do view the Bible as inspired by God as stated in 1 Timothy 3:16 and do not add extra-biblical "revelations". Please contact us if any questions persist.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • JesusNotReligion

        @MMTT123.....OK, since you asked...HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU (Thanks for the opportunity):

        1) Who did John the Baptist come to "prepare the way" for? [I'm sure you answered "Jesus"]

        Now read Matthew 3:1-3 IN YOUR "NEW WORLD TRANSLATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES" bible...Notice the quote from Isaiah being contextually applied? So, WHO did John the Baptist prepare the way for?...JEHOVAH! (Isn't that what your bible says?)That is Who Jesus is. You can try your best to make this passage say something different than what the contex demands, which is unfortunately the JW way, but you will just be mocking God and heaping up His wrath on yourself for being a false teacher of His Word.

        2) What does the commandment say about "worshipping" JEHOVAH God and "bowing down" to other false gods? [Worship God alone...Do not bow down to any other god...and do not worship,"angels"....Correct?]

        The Book of Revelation (the very Book JW's love to reference) has angels, elders, etc BOWING DOWN and WORSHIPPING "Jesus" who is seated on the Throne! Is Jesus really "Michael the Arch Angel"? Then all of heaven is sinning against God by bowing down and worshipping him! WARNING FOR YOU: If you are not WORSHIPPING Jesus on this side of heaven (along with those mentioned above who are worshipping Him even as I type) THEN YOU WILL NOT BE WORSHIPPING HIM ON THE OTHER SIDE...You will be eternally cast away from His Holy Throne & Presence.

        3) Who is the "Repurchaser of Israel"? [I am sure you will answer "Jesus"]

        Turn to Isaiah 44:6 and read it in your JW bible...note who the the "Repurchaser of Israel" is...AND...note who the "King of Israel" is...AND...who the "first and the last" is!

        Now read Revelation 1:8 & 17-18 IN CONTEXT, along with Rev. 2:8 & 22:12-13 IN CONTEXT! Remember NOT TO ADD OR TAKE AWAY ANY OF THE WORDS IN THIS BOOK...

        I hope to read your next post about how you have left the Charles T. Russell JW organization in order to become a worshipper of Jesus in the here and now, unto eternal life with Him. MAY HE, "Jehovah of armies" BE MERCIFUL!

        August 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  18. us_1776

    Millenials don't need any church.

    They need to be given opportunities for jobs.

    Something which Congress just refuses to do. Not passing even a single clean jobs bill.

    .

    August 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Obama is wagging his limp thingy at Russia, so perhaps he will get us nuked. A draft will then bring full youth employment.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • Mopery

        If a nuclear war starts, it will be an extinction level event. I know those doomsday preppers believe they have what it takes to survive, but strontium-90 says no.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          @Mopery,

          Yeah, funny even more when you discover who those doomsday preparers are. Hint they don't believe in a God.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          In that case Saint Malachy will be correct and this is the last Pope.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
        • Mopery

          @Harry, yeah that's why every episode I've seen they gather their family around the table and pray. Must be those pesky Atheists...

          August 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          @Mopery,

          Those are not what some call 'true believers'. The best thing for mankind at this point bedsides mass sterilization is to destroy every known religious manuscript from the worlds religions.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It would be nice if our politicians actually worked for what was best for our country instead of what is best for themselves and their political party, but there are those who will always stubbornly cling to outdated and ineffective ideals, rather than focus on finding new, viable solutions. Indeed, they will focus on blocking new, viable solutions.

      This sort of selfish division will destroy the United States more thoroughly than any terrorist.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • skytag

        Politicians do what they think the people who elected them want them to do so they can get reelected. If aren't happy with Congress, blame the electorate.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  19. Mopery

    What's white and falls from the sky? The coming of the lord!

    August 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Aren't you glad that cows don't fly?

      August 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  20. Sane Person

    lol, I'm fine without the delusional fantasies thanks. Enjoy your sunday confessional.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:01 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.