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Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) –"Yo mama..."

Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.

When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.

I don’t wonder anymore.

When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.

For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.

You might even recognize yourself.

The Street Corner Prophet

When the Belief Blog ran a recent article on a television host who declared that atheists “don’t have to live here,” a commenter identified as “Karie” got into a heated exchange with someone who called themselves “Bible Clown.”

Karie called Bible Clown a “disgusting, deviant perverted virus,” and a “Bozo,” before ending with this prediction:

Hell is coming for you love. Special dungeon just for u and u won’t be able to die. LOL.LOL.”

The street corner prophets often act as if they’re deeply concerned about the fate of souls they disagree with, but you can tell that they relish the prospect of eternal torment for their online enemies.

Some don’t even try to hide their true motives:

“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

Okay, so that’s the wrong way to argue about religion online if you’re a street corner prophet. Now, here’s the right way:

Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment. People rarely listen to someone who is in perpetual attack mode.

“We change no one’s mind by attacking,” said Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York City.

Camosy has made a career out of bridging religious differences. He’s part of a “Contending Modernites” group, which finds common ground between Christians and Muslims. He’s also the co-founder of a website devoted to dialing down the heat in religious arguments entitled, “Catholic Moral Theology.”

Camosy says that online discussions about religion are difficult because they are not in person. Tone and nuance gets lost online.

“You can’t look them in the face,” he said. “You can’t shake their hand or give a hug. You find it very difficult to have that sort of embodied trust.”

The Provoker

There isn’t any notion of “embodied trust” with the next online character: The provoker.

The provoker doesn’t even pretend to care about the final destination for someone’s soul. They come out punching, and they love to say things that they probably wouldn’t say to someone in person.

In the recent article on Warren, a reader who went by the surname of “Just the Facts Ma’am,” tells another:

“Thanks for once again confirming how vulgar, uneducated and delusional you are Meredith.”

In an article about millennials leaving the church, a reader who identified herself as “Jenna,” tells another: “Jesus never said any of that mess. You are a false prophet if I’ve ever seen one.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a provoker:

No one will listen to you if they don’t like you, said Joe Carter, an evangelical blogger and author of “How to Argue like Jesus,” a book that explores how Jesus verbally tangled with his enemies and persuaded his friends.

Carter said Jesus was such an excellent communicator because he told stories that provoked emotions, took surprising twists and forced people to draw their own conclusions. But he also connected with people because of a simple reason: he cared about them.

“When people know that you care about them, they’re more likely to be persuaded by you,” Carter said. “We tend to be persuaded by people we like and trust. Jesus had that in spades.”

The Atheist

One of my best friends was an atheist. Whenever we ran into one other, we’d launch into these long, philosophical discussions about religion.  I loved it. Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious.

It’s too bad that many of the exchanges between atheists and people of faith in our comments section don’t follow the same script. In fact, they have some of the nastiest religious arguments I’ve witnessed online.

A sample:

In a recent Belief Blog article about atheism, a reader identifying himself as “Sam Stone” says to another: “Free people do not need a savior, Kate. Only slaves need saviors.”

Another reader who identifies himself as “CamDEn1” tells a Christian, “You are an uneducated fool. Ever you heard of Richard Dawkins? Sam Harris? Atheists have more respected scholars than Christianity…”

I get the source of frustration for some atheists. They have longed been caricatured by people of faith as moral degenerates who don’t care about morality. Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales.

Here’s how to argue over religion if you’re an atheist:

Get beyond the stereotypes and actually spend time with a person of faith. And if you’re a person of faith, do the same with an atheist. You might be surprised.

That’s what happened when Camosy, the Fordham University ethics professor, embarked on a speaking tour with the renowned atheist and philosopher, Peter Singer, who is seen by many as the founder of the animal rights movement.

Camosy said the speaking tour forced him to read and pay attention to Singer’s arguments. He discovered that they share concerns over global poverty. He saw Singer as a person of good will.

“That created the space for us to have an honest, open and fruitful exchange with one another rather than exchanging barbs,” Camosy said.

It also created the space for personal transformation.

“Actually reading him converted me to being a vegetarian,” Camosy said. “But it was only being open to his arguments that made me see.”

The Scholar

I have a friend who is smart – scary smart.  He’s a genial, funny guy who happens to be a theology professor. I try to hang with him when we talk religion, but there’s always a point in the conversation when he loses me. I compare that moment to watching the starship Enterprise go into warp drive. He just goes into hyperspace and my brain just isn’t big enough to follow.

There a lot of big brains in our blog’s comment sections. I call these readers “the scholars.”

Some of them are self-appointed biblical experts. They talk as if they have God’s cell phone number: God has revealed great mysteries to them. They know the divine plan.

In a recent article I wrote about contemporary Christians feeling as if they were persecuted, a reader identified as “Tom Skylark” let me know what all this persecution was really about.

 Skylark said:

“Christians will face continued persecution then 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 will happen right before the 7 year tribulation when Israel burns Russia’s weapons for 7 years. (Ezekiel 39:9). Those who are not taken in the rapture will have the opportunity to receive Christ during the 7 year tribulation but will be beheaded for their testimony. (Revelation 20:4). How far is Russia towards its prophetic position which means the rapture (! Thessalonians 4:16-17) is even closer?

Actually, I did not know that, and I’m still not sure what it means.

Sometimes the scholar is someone who believes all religion is hopelessly derivative: it’s all based on something that came before.

A reader by the name of “Seyedibar” responded to my article on Christian persecution with this:

“A little study of history and comparative religion goes a long way. Abraham is based on an Egyptian figure. His god was Ptah, not El, and his vision was of Memphis, not Israel. Jesus was likely based on a Merkabah mystic, one of a hairdresser and carpenter. .. And if you back a little further, Uguritic archaeology shows us that the book of Genesis is based on the ancestor kings of the Canaanites. Most Christians and Jews aren’t aware that the creator of the Garden of Eden, El, is recorded to have died of a wild boar attack.”

 Like I said, hyperspace. I just can’t go where “Seyedibar” has gone before. I love the scholar’s passion for religion, but some of them lose me when they try to deploy all their knowledge of history and religion in any effort to change someone else’ beliefs.

How to argue about religion if you’re a scholar:

Accept that there is a limit to knowledge. I’ve never seen anyone say in response to a religious argument: “You are right. Your argument is irrefutable. I’m going to jettison a lifetime of beliefs on the spot right now because I obviously have no coherent reply.”

It just doesn’t happen.

Gordon Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University, said most people change religious beliefs “not because of one argument” but only after long conversations and intimate exposure to another faith.

“Logical arguments are nice but they're not going to change someone’s life,” Newby said. “We’re way too complicated for that. We’re not programmed machines. We have this whole limbic system of emotions and appetites and everything else.”

The Peacemaker

There are some readers who give me hope when I go to the comment section. They are the “peacemakers,” and they surely bless me with their attitudes.

Peacemakers try to keep arguments from getting personal. They are the online referees.  They turn the other cheek.

An exchange between someone called “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” shows a peacemaker in action.

“Bootyfunk”  gets upset with “KatieRose” because she says  “we must respect all ideas in the world, no matter how crazy.”

Bootyfunk says people don’t have to respect all ideas, and tells Katie Rose she shouldn't tell people not to debate religion on a blog about religion.

What does KatieRose say in response? She doesn’t go to war. She makes the peace:

“Okay! That works for me,” KatieRose said. “I’m sorry if it sounded like I was ordering people not to talk about an issue: I just disagreed with the focus of the discussion.”

“Bootyfunk” ends the discussion with a smiley-face symbol and a “smooches, Katie.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a peacemaker:

Keep on doing what you’re doing.

If only the rest of the comment section had more peacemakers. I actually e-mailed readers like “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” to get their perspective, but all I got was silence. Not one commenter wanted to talk on the record for this story. Only one person – an atheist – responded to my invitations to chat, and he didn’t want his name used.

But I have a feeling I’ll hear again from these holy trollers when I scan the comment section of Belief Blog. So will you, even if you don’t read that much about religion. These holy trollers show up in our lives and our workplaces. Many of them will sit next to us at the dinner table when families and friends get together for the upcoming holidays.

When the conversation turns to religion, you may meet your holy troller, and you will have to make a choice.

Do I make the peace, or do I go the war?

What kind of holy troller will you be?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Internet • News media • Nones

soundoff (3,856 Responses)
  1. Skeptic

    Many of the comments here are just further proof of what the author of the article is saying.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Food fight

      Many of the comments demonstrate that a little ridicule is appropriate.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Exactly! And as Blake pointed out, it is too often on both sides of the debate. Sad, but true.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  2. Robert

    Religion of all forms is nothing more than a cult – cultivated by brainwashing that starts at a very early age by the parents of the next generation. There is no difference when it comes down to it between what is written in the Old Testament, the Quran, and those beliefs of the Branch Dividians and we remember how that ended. Sure the details were different, but reading the New/Old Testament, and the Quran ... and taking them out of context of "religion" and they are no more crazy.

    I am sorry, all religions are nothing more than cults. The continuance of their existence can be blamed on no one more than parents who from an early age allow their children to be brainwashed ... and who are at this point likely to continue said brainwashing. It continues mainly out of fear. The fear to be different. The fear to stand alone amongst your so called friends and neighbors. In many areas of the world, the fear is real as are the repercussions. For weak men, add in the fear of a different life when there is no more misogyny.

    Just like most people will work hard to protect their family members from a cult, so will I will the rest of humanity. We need to break the chains of these cults so that people can think and behave freely and rationally. People have been proven to be good, kind, and compassionate when free of religion. It brings no societal value.

    Call me militant or whatever you want, but I will not stand by and let humanity be dominated by the cults or organized religion. I consider it a duty to do my small part, whatever that may be, to end these cults. If I can sew even one small seed of doubt in one cult member, then I have done good. That seed will grow and it will spread. There is a reason that where oppression does not exist that people are throwing off the shackles of these cults. Break the cult cycle, and that will continue to grow.

    So no, I will not "play nice" because a cult is a cult is a cult. I have religious friends and while I respect them as people, I do not respect their belief and membership in a cult. I do not respect that they brainwash their kids into the same cult.

    I don't have to be accepting of others beliefs any more than I have to be accepting of the person who says the earth is square. They are both wrong. I am okay with the person who thinks the earth is square keeps it to himself, but when he starts to brainwash his young children to believe the same, then no, I am not okay with that.

    And therein in the issue. To "accept" others religious beliefs is in many cases to accept child abuse as you know those people will brainwash their children, and their grandchildren with the same lies they were brainwashed with. With most "cults", we take children away from parents that do that.

    So if I step on some toes, hurt feelings, come across as disrespectful at times ... so be it.

    The cult problem is huge, must be dealt with, and someone has to do it, one step and one post at a time.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • justageek

      Pfft...just because you keep posting the same troll remarks about all religions over and over again doesn't make it true.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Robert : To "accept" others religious beliefs is in many cases to accept child abuse as you know those people will brainwash their children

      One can never know all things. Thus, one can never know for certainty whether God does or does not exist. One can only look at the evidence. So, according to your logic here, anytime one teaches about metaphysics, they are brainwashing. However, I disagree. Children grow up and begin to question things they were taught and find their own way. Brainwashing implies they never can change their views.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • Robert

        You and I know that most of these children, especially in some areas of the world will either not change their views, or not be able to publicly change their views. As well, we know for a fact that things that happen to children in their childhood continues to influence them well into adulthood. Take something as heavily indoctrinated as religion usually forced from a very early age and yes, the results can be lifelong for many. Most are not that strong of mind.

        And yes, teaching metaphysics to children who are too young and cannot discern reality is not something that should be done.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Robert : You and I know that most of these children, especially in some areas of the world will either not change their views, or not be able to publicly change their views.

          This is where I disagree – unless you're talking about those outside of America. Inside of our land of the free, MANY people are raised one way and turn the other direction.

          @Robert : teaching metaphysics to children who are too young and cannot discern reality is not something that should be done.

          So, would you agree to prohibit the teaching of evolution and Big Bang to children?

          October 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
        • Robert

          Evolution is proven, and verifiable.

          The big bang theory is taught just as that ... a theory.

          Teaching neither of these two items impacts how these children will treat their fellow man (at least in a negative way). Heck, if they actually understand evolution they may start to understand things like drug resistance, etc.

          That is not true about religion and to some degree metaphysics ... unless taught in the sense of literature, not truth.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • justageek

          "cannot discern reality" – Define your reality. Pick a random person and have them define theirs. They will be different so what is reality and when can it be truly defined? No one can discern reality. The best we can hope for is falling into the norm of the masses and saying that is reality.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • HieTide

      Moderate atheists are a joy to talk with. This is not moderate.

      The problems with freely expanding the definition of "cult" and using it as a verbal weapon are many. One of the problems is that you are using the Robert-definition, free reign to condemn those who disagree with you, but we live in a diverse society that can turn that approach on you. I hope it never happens, but another group could just as readily label your beliefs as cultic and vie for your children to be taken away. When "cult" merely refers to religious beliefs that disagree with yours, it creates a weapon that will harm all people groups not holding it when it goes off.

      Threats like these will not convince those who disagree, just merely inflame the most radical and foolish in your own camp. Over the past century, we've seen what this kind of thinking has lead to in political states with aggressive atheism at their core. We don't need more genocide.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • Robert

        I did not freely expand on the definition of cult ... a cult as someone was nice enough to quote was a religion outside the norm (which is just one of many definitions by the way). If you look up the tenets of a cult, they describe religion to a T.

        For the record, I am not "condemning" people. In fact I am working towards just the opposite .... not condemn them to a life based on cultish programming that has 0 basis in reality. For the thousandths time on this blog as well, atheism is not a belief! The predicate of atheism is verifiable proof. Truth is truth. Anything else is a belief. 0 proof of the existence of god.

        For the record, there are numerous groups who label my lack of belief as dangerous. Most religions actually. The only difference is the level of how militant they are. You don't see atheists blowing up churches, mosques and temples though do you. Only religious people do that.

        I am not threatening anyone. I am stating a fact that I have chosen not to stand by and allow these cults to continue unabated. And you know what, some religious people will start to reflect and see that yes there religion is no different from any other cult. To an atheist, there is no difference between organized religion and marginalized cults.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • justageek

          "To an atheist, there is no difference between organized religion and marginalized cults." – Your experiences are completely different than my experiences with Atheists then.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Robert

          The only difference is they sugar coat it for you. If you ask most atheists if organized religion had the tenets of a cult, they would say yes. Maybe not to you, but in a forum where they could say it without repercussion, that is what they would say.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  3. utakin2me

    here is how to argue religion: first, you need evidence to support your argument .....shortest argument ever

    October 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Relictus

      You offended my pet unicorn, Sparkles, and now he's gonna leave a huge unicorn dump on your lawn. Enjoy the rainbow ...

      October 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • justageek

      That's a standard response to any theory. Not really an argument.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • Food fight

        Burden of proof is a difficult concept for many people.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
        • justageek

          Not really.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • HieTide

      ...quipped the person without giving evidence for their argument.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • justageek

        I don't have an argument. I admit I don't know which side is right.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
        • HieTide

          Not you, justageek. Utakin

          October 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  4. Kenman

    Unbelievable! CNN professing to discuss religion! Ridiculous! You couldn't even resist suggesting that anyone professing faith a "troller" and making up pseudo-intellectual categories they're all relegated to!

    This blog is the biggest source of hypocrisy on this liberal website, and that's saying a lot!

    Instead of constantly berating Christianity, why don't you DARE to take on the discussion of the current "religious" source of bigotry, hatred, murder and terrorism: Islam?

    But you don't dare! What phony "prophets"!

    October 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • tony

      I don't see how atheism can affect just one religion. It is a disbelief of all god based religions.

      If the cap fits. . .

      October 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Stosh

      Did you even READ the article? If so, did you understand it?

      The obvious answer is "no".

      October 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • Kenman

        You and Tony can just keep having conversations with yourselves! If you feel the need to criticize me or my beliefs in my comment, you're wasting your time.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  5. James Bell

    I am re-posting this. Please keep in mind as you read that religion itself is not the focus of my comment. In fact, religion (i.e., the belief in a god or gods, etc.) is not required for my main focus – the gaining and exercise of understanding and compassion.

    In my humble opinion:

    I feel discussion about religion, when done respectfully, is a healthy thing. I do not see religion as literal accounts of history; rather, I see it as a vast collection of wisdom and allegory bequeathed to us all by our ancestors, so that we might find peace between each other, and within ourselves.

    It is clear to me that most of us are just trying to better understand the world, and our place within it. Most of us do not want to feel alone in our search. Too often we allow differences between our beliefs to obstruct and distract from what we really long for: philosophical companionship that counters our otherwise perpetual and sometimes unbearable existential angst. It is human nature to seek out like-minded people and form friendships; yet, it is also within human nature to want to push away, or even destroy, that which one does not understand. For lack of understanding produces fear, and fear tends toward anger, and anger tends toward destruction, even of oneself.

    Promote understanding, and you promote compassion. Promote compassion, and you eliminate the cycle of fear, both within yourself and within others.

    Kind Regards,

    James

    October 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      WTF, I just read this crap.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • James Bell

        Thank you for responding. Here is your response.

        October 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • tony

      You can get an even better education from bequeathed wisdom and allegory if any belief material is not included.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
      • James Bell

        I respectfully disagree that one cannot gain understanding if beliefs are not included in the allegories of religion. You cannot have religion without belief; they are essentially the same. However, belief in a real god or gods is not required to be able to see and gain from the wisdom within religious works. Just with any set of arguments, you can choose which ones and which parts you agree or disagree with. There is no precondition to gaining from wisdom, other than that you appreciate it, otherwise you will not gain from it.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  6. tony

    Creationism doesn't need a single god. If in aour image, then he's teamwork.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @tony : Creationism doesn't need a single god. If in aour image, then he's teamwork.

      Care to elucidate your comment? Why would an all-powerful being need help creating things?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    I would suggest that everybody on this blog should be allowed to comment only if he uses his real name and not a pseudonym.

    Alone this habit of using pseudonyms here on this blog reduces this blog to a meaningless comedy.

    We should take serious matters which concern our soul's health or the soul's health of other people.

    The only joke of the New Testament I am aware is when Nikodemus told Jesus if a man should go back into the womb of his mother, and get born again. Yet, I guess that this was not a joke but Nikodemus suffered from Jewish stupidity (I am not a racist). Because of their ongoing disbelief the Jewish leaders seemingly faced a high degree of dulling of mind; that has nothing to do with the Jewish race but is a matter of their misconduct.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    I am here on this blog because I seek for people which have my opinion, furthermore I like discussion, I want to share the true gospel of Jesus, and finally I seek advertising for my English website which is non-commercial.

    Does anybody know a serious blog about faith matters???

    A general criticism concerning the depiction of the Roman Catholic Church on this blog:

    I find that the RCC is depicted too positive on this blog – tendentious. Simply ask some secular historians from different universities, and they will confirm that the RCC has committed a lot of crimes in her history. For example the "Donation of Constantine" was considered as a true docu-ment during the dark age. It claimed that emperor Constantine the Great had given the whole Europe to the RCC as a present because a certain pope had cured him from a disease. However, after some centuries (!) independent scientists could prove that this docu-ment was forged. Any further questions about the RCC? What a club is that? Which reasonable man can honor such a club?

    Towards all atheists: I could tolerate you if Israel would not exist. The Old Testament is the Hebrew Bible. The Bible consists of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament (the NT is the consti-tution of the Early Church). The NT leans on the OT. The OT is not a collection of any myths made-up by a fool like Muhammad but the OT is deeply connected with the real history of Israel, a people which really exists!!! They still celebrate and commemorate many events which are depicted in the OT. They do not celebrate this events because of the OT acounts but because the ever celebrated these events. How can you be an atheist any longer? There is too much evidence for the truth of Christianity. Travel to Israel and observe how they celebrate.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • tony

      How can there possibly be a serious blog about faith?

      October 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        Would you stop breathing? Never!

        Now you know what disbelief means: No breathing.

        October 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • James Bell

      I agree that such a board would be better if people used their real names. However, most will not.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        Is James Bell your real name?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • Relictus

        Names are just labels, sometimes with meaning. My other name is not John Smith, but close. A real name does not imbue the poster with mental faculties or honorable traits. Ree LEEK toos – Forsaken

        I would follow the comments, except that I don't want a flood of every single comment to the entire topic.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Spaminator

      "There is too much evidence for the truth of Christianity"

      LOL!

      October 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • Relictus

        The truth of Christianity is that the Christian faith is a composite badly written, in bad Greek, of many older religions and religious beliefs. So there is Truth and Christian Truth.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  8. Hmmm

    Well personally I don't care about religion all that much but I definitely come for the trolls. I like to troll trolls, it makes me happy.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  9. Silly

    Talking about God is a waste of good breathing air.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Kenman

      So, feel free to stop.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  10. Food fight

    If one must resort to a mentality of victimhood to defend their aggression then they do not have much of a foundation to defend.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  11. Shawn Maness

    Here's what you do, you withdraw from the conversation. There are just as many trollers who bash religion as there are those who condemn in the name of. Fact is religion/faith is a personal choice, and I am all for spreading the word of the lord, but I'm fairly certain using it in any other fashion that education of those who seek it was not intended. I wonder if CNN realizes how far to the left they continue to swing with this article?

    October 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  12. someguysarerude

    Religious fanatics are more dangerous than bigmouths. I never saw Bin Laden raise his voice.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • fools

      jesus freaks are insane.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Food fight

      He (even in death) has plenty of followers who do raise their self righteous voices. The Christians will never see (or at least admit) that they are inspired by the same lust for power.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • justageek

      "Religious fanatics" – Don't you mean ALL fanatics?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  13. Ungodly Discipline

    This shaggy dog was prowling the bar and spattin’ out pussy hair like sunflower seeds.

    I have taken that walk with him.

    He never said much…that you could remember anyway. Not much difference in the pour either.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  14. tallulah13

    These Christians author keep trying to control the dialog on this blog. And the editor in charge of he blog, Daniel Burke, randomly appears to delete comments he does't like. I find this very disingenuous.

    Either this is an open discussion or this is not. Honest discussion sometimes gets ugly, but frankly I'd rather have the ugly and the honesty than nice, but censored and dishonest content.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I agree.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • SmartLawyer

      In response to your request below: there are 17 non-christian extra biblical references to Chrst:

      17 extra-biblical, non-christian (meaning, not the 4 Gospels, Pauline letters, James, John, Peter, Jude or the writer of Hebrews): that testify as to the life, death, claims and resurrection of Jesus:
      1.Tacticus
      2. Suetonious
      3. Josephus
      4. Thallus
      5. Pliny the Younger
      6. Trajan
      7. Hadrian
      8. Akiba
      9. Toledoth Jesu
      10. Lucian
      11. Mara-Bar Serapion
      12. Valentinus
      13.Acts of Pontius Pilate
      14. Phlegon
      15. [Gnostic] Gospel of Thomas
      16. [Gnostic] Treatise of Resurrection
      17. Julius Africanus

      October 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • R.M. Goodswell

        Josephus wasn't even born at the time of the 'resurrection'

        October 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @R.M. Goodswell : Josephus wasn't even born at the time of the 'resurrection'

          And I wasn't born until after WWII, but I could still do research on the subject and get first hand accounts from those who were alive during that time. So, would you reject my writings on WWII events?

          October 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • R.M. Goodswell

          Josephus born 37ad–who talked to Paul of Tarsus born 5 ad who got his info from Peter (who may or may not have met a guy named Jesus).

          Always a guy who talked to a guy who talked to a guy where Jesus is concerned.

          Hadrian was another –not alive at the time of the resurrection.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  15. Lionly Lamb

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tJXjt5D4zY&w=640&h=360]

    October 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      K-Town

      He could smell her from his position, directly downwind of the Santa Ana’s, the putrid air-born tendril of urine and body odor makes a formidable weapon. Her socks, slung over the tops of her borrowed Converse flaps. Here teeth only a reminder of public service announcements. The hair was everywhere. Not untidy exactly, just….everywhere. Like a blanket over her. She had a pleasing form though. Hard not to look twice. So hard in fact, many had made her their project. Each had failed. For her the addiction was her destiny and would lead to her death. But not today.

      Joe Skinner rarely looked up when he was walking in L.A. Nobody on these streets needed directions or knew where any stars lived. This was Korea Town, the crossroads where Heaven and Hell conduct their business. It was different now. The riots broke the peace and historians were quick to point out that Korea Town was marginalized during the Rodney King Riots of 1992 and it was happening again. Neighborly “hellos” became tense and less friendly. If you want someone to get your back, stay in your part of town. And don’t bother calling 911.

      Joe called 911. The voice on the other end of his “iMate” spoke in hushed tones. Joe laughed. He knew they would have to follow up on any call. If Ryerson shows up, He’s dead. Joe still had friends everywhere in the eight block neighborhood of K-Town. He walked without being disturbed, but only because he understood protocol. K-Town in 2033 was not only unsafe, it was anarchy and there were untouchables.

      That is when he saw it. A photograph. Hard to see in the wet gutter, but the man in the image was beautiful. Long flowing hair that wasn’t messy but practically covered his whole upper section. Skinner reached for it. It sizzled in his fingers and glowed. This was Jesus and he was come unto the Earth to save humans at long last.

      Joe on the other hand really wanted to get baked before work and needed a paper and Jesus was handy. It was wet but they had one of those electric 2025 hand dryers in the rest room of the filling station he stood next to. He blazed, and soon saw Jesus once again. This time Jesus stood before him saying, “I brought unto you a miracle and this is how you betray your lack of awe to the sight of me?

      Joe thought a moment and finally looked at Jesus and said, “You crazy fuck, here, toke up bro!” The party lasted long into the night. Jesus got tore up and the moral of the story is that Marijuana should be legal in the United States.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  16. Jim in Florida

    Blake writes his insulting garbage from the CNN bully pulpit and he is so thin skinned he cannot bear any criticism at all – even insulting the "trolls" who wrote it.....sound liike someone else we know?

    Advice for Blake – end your anti Christian Crusade and you probably won't see this stuff – you have my email, I am not hiding behind anything.... Blake, self proclaimed "religion" expert

    October 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Liss86

    "God must love stupid."
    I don't think anyone, religious or atheist, would disagree with that.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I disagree.

      God rejoices in sick violence, disease and suffering. He does not love dummies any more than Atheists.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  18. Lionly Lamb

    God's Holy Spirit is the Eternal Nothingness from which all things abounded from that ever so was, is and shall forever be the Unending Nothing that forever consoles the unrecognizable and repugnant drippings of the motivationally absurd...

    October 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  19. B'bye

    Here's how you argue about religion online: DON'T. Belief or non-belief is a personal choice, and you are not going to change anyone's mind with a pithy comment on a website. Me? I know that I am immortal. Within me are atoms that once belonged to Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, George Washington, and Copernicus. Also Genghis Khan and Napoleon, so it's a double-edged sword.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • tony

      Their and your atoms came from the same stars, I think you mean.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • sophion

      how do you correct religion if you dont argue against it?

      October 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  20. R Burns

    There is another class of online religious commentors that I would add: those who cite scripture, in context, and don't infuse doctrine along with it. The truth doesn't have "versions", it's just what was actually said or done or what occurred during an event or, in this case, written. When isolated and misused for one's own gain, scripture (or the argument against it) can be as bad a weapon as anything else, and often is. When we put aside our own motives and emotions and actually try to read and understand, there is a very clear and wonderful goal all too often missed: "That you might have joy in this life and in the life to come." We have no right to strip others of that joy through judgmental oneupmanship, religiously based or not. When more people understand that, it will be a better world and a larger population in eternity.

    October 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      You are delusional. As are all believers.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.