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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. ronvan

    "RIGHT WAY TO ARGUE"? NOTHING NEW ABOUT RELIGION!!! I will go back to my 2 favorite words: FAITH & BELIEF! These 2 words apprly to ALL of us in many situations throughout our lives. An Atheist & a religious person could argue forever. and NEITHER side could provide, PROOF positive, 100%, that their argument was the right one! While I DO have faith & beleive in God & Jesus Christ that does not mean I am a "blind follower". I have MANY unanswered questions! Religious books, stories, etc., ALL were written by humans! Stories embellished, omitted, changed, by those doing the re writing during their period of time. WHO can say that their religion, books, stories, are the TRUE ones? And IF they are true & accurate WHY are we seeing so many changes in todays religions?

    October 11, 2013 at 5:39 am |
    • Kimberlee

      ronvan, hello! You make some excellent points. Without in any way wanting to offend believers of these faiths, I personally concluded in my youth, after studying some of the history of religion, that there was a pattern of revelation and renewal in the major world religions, for example: Hinduism and Buddhism; Judaism and Christianity; Islam and the Babi/Baha'i dispensations. The Golden Rule is found in all of them, yet we start to forget it; or think we are following it if we obey laws yet don't have the inner spirit; or we depend on ceremony but don't have the inner spiritual experience that the ceremony was originally intended to celebrate. In the Baha'i view, revelation will continue, as we will always need to be "refreshed" in spirit.

      October 11, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Strong circ-umstantial evidence that there is no god (or did they all die as martyrs?)

      Number of god's creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

      1. 300,000,000 approx.
      Smallpox

      2. 200,000,000 ?
      Measles

      3. 100,000,000 approx.
      Black Death

      4. 80,000,000–250,000,000
      Malaria

      5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
      Spanish Flu

      6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
      Plague of Justinian

      7. 40,000,000–100,000,000
      Tuberculosis

      8. 30,000,000[13]
      AIDS pandemic

      9. 12,000,000 ?
      Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

      10. 5,000,000
      Antonine Plague

      11. 4,000,000
      Asian Flu

      12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

      October 11, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • dorianmattar

        Don't forget the 25,000 that die every single day of starvation.

        If there is a god, he is one SICK being.

        October 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • Kimberlee

          dorianmattar, I'm not sure why you lay starvation at the feet of God? There is actually enough food on the planet to feed everyone; the problem is not everyone has the money to buy it. I live in West Africa part of the time. Food is abundant; markets and streets are full of sellers of it. But there are many people there who don't have the money to buy it. The economic problems of a country are usually laid more accurately at the feet of its leaders, politicians, and legislators, since they can spur economic development through direct funding in the public sector or incentives to private sector development.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
        • tallulah13

          God could change all that with a thought, but he doesn't. Thus god is okay with people starving. Or, more likely, he doesn't exist.

          October 12, 2013 at 11:39 am |
        • Reality # 2

          The global statistics on starvation are not easy to come by considering the areas where said starvation is occurring is not easily accessible. Data collected by "non-profit" groups are unreliable because their donations depend on said count. WHO and associated groups send out forms to be filled out by country officials but apparently they never do a "on the ground" count.

          October 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          I haven't double checked, but how off can they be? Let's go all out and give it a 50% error margin, which I'm sure is not. That is still 12,000 every single day.

          While god sits playing chess.

          October 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Christians or other god believers have a way out if they are willing to take their god down a notch.

        To wit:

        As per the famous contemporary theologian, Edward Schillebeeckx, God is not omniscient. Please read, pause and contemplate the following by Schillebeeckx:

        Church: The Human Story of God,
        Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover)

        "Christians (et al) must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history."

        "Nothing is determined in advance: in nature there is chance and determinism; in the world of human activity there is possibility of free choices.

        Therefore the historical future is not known even to God, otherwise we and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings.

        For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women."

        October 13, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Sanity

      Reading more G.K. Chesterton may help you out

      October 12, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  2. Kimberlee

    By the way, I might add that I worked for the US military for most of my federal career, and you typically address people as "sir" and "ma'am." Even today, if someone holds a door for me as I carry groceries, I say, "Thank you, sir" or "Thank you, ma'am."

    October 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  3. Kimberlee

    John, very well written article! I have to say, though, that your observations are not limited to religion blog sites. I retired in 2009 from federal civil service. My work pace had not allowed for social interaction on the internet except for limited emails with a few friends and family. We moved to Africa, my husband's family home, and found the availability of power and internet provider service so poor we used it just for bare essentials. Last summer we decided to put a child in school in the US and so moved to Florida. Suddenly I could spend hours on the internet. I have great interest in religion so started visiting blogsites for my own faith (I am Baha'i), and the spread out to the local paper, the PBS site, and now recently (didn't know it existed until I searched for it) the CNN site. In the same time frame, I started to visit some news blog sites. I know I have lived a sheltered life (Baha'is are typically courteous, non-confrontational, peacemaker-type people, at least if they have been Baha'i long enough to understand and try to live the principles and teachings, which respect each individual's spiritual search, views all the major religions as divine in origin, seeks the unity of mankind and peace in the world, and holds courtesy as the "king of virtues"), but I was shocked at the not just emotional responses in postings, but the downright insulting, belittling, even violent responses people posted to comments made bu others. I am 60 years old, and this is not the America I grew up in. I came from a home which taught that you respect other people's right to their opinions and beliefs, even when you don't agree with them. My parents were not church goers, but there was a Bible in our home which we were free to read as we wished, and I read it. I love Jesus, but not the doctrines and dogma of the churches. At the age of 18, while a university student in engineering, I came across the Baha'i Faith and it satisfied both my spiritual and intellectual needs. While we share some doctrine with the Christian churches, we do not believe in "original sin". Babies are born innocent in our view, but as they grow their natural "animal" instincts (survival, food, reproduction, pleasure, etc) must be trained in spiritual principles (love for God, love for their fellow man) to develop their spiritual virtues (justice, mercy, courtesy, kindness, faithfulness, forgiveness, steadfastness, and a myriad more) and help them to be peaceful and loving people. It's a journey we walk everyday, with no one perfect; so are advised not to judge anyone else (leave that to God) and to show only loving kindness and patience to those around us, especially when we don't agree. So I was shocked at the language and tone used on blog sites by grown adults who should treat their fellow citizens with more courtesy. There is something very lacking in our society, that children should be raised to be so angry and confrontational; or that people should become that way in spite of being raised differently. Where is the simple courtesy that we should show to all?

    October 10, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Simple courtesy

      ...flies out the window when being told repeatedly by people like "Karie" one is going to go to Hell is one doesn't agree with her. Here is a quote by one that deserves no courtesy:

      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.”

      Why should people be civil to someone who is, quite simply, uncivilized?

      October 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
      • DODO

        I believe Mr. Blake neglected the sixth interweb archetype, the one to which you closely resemble upon first impression:
        The commenter who, for reasons unknown, chooses to make ludicrous and incendiary statements with the sole intention of drawing negative attention and provoking arguments...the troll"

        Simple courtesy
        ...flies out the window when being told repeatedly by people like "Karie" one is going to go to Hell is one doesn't agree with her. Here is a quote by one that deserves no courtesy:
        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.”
        Why should people be civil to someone who is, quite simply, uncivilized?

        agreed. point being,

        u mean like 12 gauge fellating shotgun spray your face stanky donkey pounding hurt but?

        October 13, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  4. WOT

    You do not argue about your religion, you live it day by day!

    October 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Kimberlee

      WOT, Great reply!!!!!

      October 10, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  5. Chancellor C Roberts, II's Ring of Fire Eternal Torment Tra-p

    Difficult to demonstrate online, but it works like this:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YIj4rLYo0c&w=640&h=360]

    October 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Chancellor C Roberts, II's Ring of Fire Eternal Torment Tra-p

      (just add fire and use your imagination)

      October 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  6. Chancellor C. Roberts, II

    John Blake,

    Respectfully, I disagree with the following statement from the article: “Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment.”

    We ALL deserve eternal torment. Christ died for the ungodly and the salvation that His death purchased is by God’s grace alone (meaning it is something we don’t deserve). Even Jesus said "there is no one good except God alone."

    There are Christians who say some, well, “unfortunate” things in response to blog articles. (To say these things are “unfortunate” is being charitable; some of these things are just plain evil).

    October 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Bob

      "Chancellor", you are deluded.

      Your hateful god of your horrid Christian story tales can fairly be classed as a human rights abusing criminal, based on his threats of eternal torture for any crime, even to a mortal simply not believing in your sadistic god of your myths.

      Now ask yourself this re your crazy god story:

      How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there, and that core premise of your religion is actually nonsense.

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

      October 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • Family Doctor

        Hi Bob, I am as deluded as chacellor I suppose. Certainly God might appear hateful if we presume our own importance in the universe. The billions of bacteria that inhabit my body might view me as hateful as well when I callously take an antibiotic and wipe them out by the millions. If God is indeed creator of the universe and all the dimensions that we are not aware of, then wouldn't we, the human race, be so much less significant in the grand scheme than our bacterial hitchhikers are to us? Why should God care about our self-righteous moral outrage regarding how he has "condemned" the majority of humanity to death? In fact, the most unbelievable part of the Christian faith is that God would spare a thought, let alone the death of his "one and only son" for a miniscule organism on a tiny hunk of rock, orbitting an run-of-the-mill star , out of billions in a galaxy , floating mongst billions of other galaxies.

        Now, I can't answer the bit about God being able to create another "son", but I do believe that it would be impossible for the human mind to comprehend the totality of the infinite character and nature of God. It is a great kindness, that God, allegedly tell us through the Bible, that he is a trinity. Does this define God completely. Of course not! How do you explain things to a child? Is a hydrogen atom really just an electron, rotating neatly around a proton and neutron? No ,of course not! That is a simplistic model that helps our small minds understand a complex system. How much more difficult to understand the creator of all matter, time, and space!

        How kind it was then for him to come down as a baby, to live as a man, and to die a miserable death. Why couldn't he just snap his cosmic fingers and make things right? In fact why didnt he just wipe us all away and start all over? Or to take the argument further, why didn't he just make us perfect from the start?

        This arguments are so difficult to answer. To me it makes more sense as I see my own children. Each one different. Each one flawed. Each one beautiful. None is what I imagined them to be before my wife and I conceived them. They make me smile and laugh, but they also drive me nuts and turn my hair gray. Shall I start over? Toss them out? Pick the best one, ignore the others? When my 2 year old has soiled himself and is covered in feces, shall I hose him off from a distance? Tell him to make himself clean....then he can join me in my presence again? Or isn't it better that I hold the crying fecal mess of a tantrum throwing toddler in my arms, getting myself messy and wet in order to safely and thoroughly bathe him clean?

        In the same way, God came near, became touchable, relatable, hugable...so that a tantrum-throwing filth covered humanity could be shown the heart of a loving father and become clean. In the process, the God-man becomes dirty...suffering the worst consequence of our disobedient tantrums; death. How this makes sense on the cosmic balance sheet, I do not know.
        How does the sins of all humanity for all time equal the death of one God-man? That is a mystery to me as well.

        However, my toddlers are also oblivious to all the things I do for them every day in order to lovingly provide for all their material needs. They don't understand the pain endured by my wife in childbirth. They don't understand the tedious slog of the workday that funds our shelter and clothing and food. How could we as cosmic toddlers dare to challenge God and state that the way he chose to love us isn't good enough. He needs to send another son for us to kill. He needs to show us something more dramatic. More bling, please.

        If it were more spectacular, we would argue for more humility. If it were more simple, we would argue for something that speaks to our intellect. If it were more complex, we would argue for a message that the common man could understand.

        The message is all of these. Simple and profound. Awe-inspiring and humble. God loves you and died for you.
        He thought of you from the beginning of it all. He is a father, begging his child to take his hand and come home.

        October 11, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          You wrote all that simply to say that god loves us?

          Your god has a VERY STRANGE way of showing his love as stated by the post that included all the deaths by deceases.

          How can YOU love someone that YOU are afraid of?

          Do you love a KILLER that asks you to love him while he tells you that if you don't love him, he will kill you?

          You don't make much sense.

          Love is earned not bought or FORCED!

          October 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
        • Commenter

          Family Doctor,

          You sound like a fairly nice person, in fact you sound a lot nicer than the "God" character of The Bible.

          Regarding those bacteria which you sometimes have to kill - do you purposefully **create** them to start with, knowing precisely which ones are going to eventually be killed by you?

          You do not toss out your children when they offend you. Good. If you were Bible "God", however, you would drown them all, except for the 'best' one - and you would have known before they were born which one would survive and which ones would perish. You would tell that one, also, that you will come back someday in fury and send quite a number of his or her offspring to eternal torture.

          A perfect, omnipotent being would not lack anything - it would not be 'begging' for anything.

          I don't want to be mean to you; but this fantasy idol, handed down from ancient, primitive Israelis is quite hideous; and I think that you are doing your innocent, trusting children a disservice by telling them that it is real.

          October 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Felix

      "We ALL deserve eternal torment."

      You represent the worst type of Christian, the self-loathing type who thinks of themselves and all humans as filthy sinners only deserving of eternal damnation, but grateful that the god who created these pieces of filth is also graciously willing to redeem them if only they manage to somehow believe in him and his convoluted method of redemption.

      What a pitiful existence.

      October 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • sam stone

        that seems to describe many of the belief blog posters

        gopher/topher for example

        October 12, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  7. Chancellor C. Roberts, II

    John Blake,

    I respectfully disagree with the following statement from the article: “Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment.”

    We ALL deserve eternal torment. Christ died for the ungodly and the salvation that His death purchased is by God’s grace alone (meaning it is something we don’t deserve). Even Jesus said "there is no one good except God alone."

    However, there are Christians who say some, well, “unfortunate” things in response to blog articles. (To say these things are “unfortunate” is being charitable; some of these things are just plain evil).

    October 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      Hey can you keep us out of your eternal torment crap?

      Go to an asylum, it's definitely what you deserve.

      You are self destructive and have absolutely NO self-esteem.

      Go get help.

      October 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      gosh, chancellor, your god is a vindictive, petty pr1ck

      get back on your knees

      time to beg again

      October 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Kimberlee

      Chancellor, hello! The doctrine of Original Sin is one of the reasons I didn't join a Christian church as a child or youth. All due respect to your beliefs, but "there are wide-ranging disagreements among Christian groups as to the exact understanding of this doctrine, with some so-called Christian groups denying it altogether. Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Islam acknowledge that the introduction of sin into the human race affected the subsequent environment for mankind, but deny any inherited guilt or necessary corruption of man's nature." My faith (Baha'i) does not accept this doctrine either. A baby born into a good family, raised in the love of God and love for his fellow man, who does no major evil or wickedness (unrighteousness) in his life, does not deserve eternal torment. There is no scriptural basis for that statement, in my opinion. True, he is not perfect... no man or woman is. In the Gospels Jesus lays out the things that get us into heaven, and I don't believe that being perfect is on the list. In my faith, we are told God created us to know Him and to love Him; and he endowed us with great spiritual capacity if we will seek and develop it, like "a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.

      October 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
      • dorianmattar

        So is your faith based on the bible?

        October 12, 2013 at 12:33 am |
  8. bootyfunk

    thanks girls. wow. u r tough

    October 10, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • bootyfunk

      every illegal action is recorded on disc. u'll be forking over all your records. too

      October 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
      • OU812

        Yours will be, also, you insane punk. Quit stealing names, you thief.

        October 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Max

      La la la liar. Lol. So much delusion, so little time. Thanks, girlie.
      Y'all wil be forking your money over to me. Have fun in your padded cell.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  9. myrtle may

    Dear Mr. Blake: Nice try! LOL. You have inspired ME, however. After my initial comment, I shall retire to meditate on peace:)

    October 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  10. sam stone

    "Facetious
    Ok, we know your stance on cloning boneless chickens, but what about boning chickenless clowns?

    October 9, 2013 at 11:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
    RC
    Now that's just dirty......"

    i love exposing and destroying these scholars. it is easier than breathing

    October 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • midwest rail

      You have 5 minutes to prove there's a lawsuit. Go.

      October 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • dorianmattar

      The most unjust trial in history? LMAO

      How many humans have spent their lives in prison while they where innocent? How many have been tortured for YEARS in concentration camps?

      Your retarded Jesus spent a weekend in pain, then went back to paradise.

      Your comment is a JOKE.

      October 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Max

      First of all, you name-stealing liar, do you know what "facetious" even means?

      ".... 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.”
      This is the person who just stole ss's name. Liar and all around awful person, who does more to create atheists than anyone.

      Own it, lady. You are one nasty piece of work, and have no right calling others out when you are even worse. Hypocrite.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
      • bootyfunk

        call the police, babe. have him arrested him. and quit cryin, good golly, what a baby. don't go out at nite. lock your doors

        October 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
        • Max

          Insane Faith's names that are also on record:
          bootyfunk (stolen)
          slappy
          tt
          point being
          louie
          cherrie
          prophet
          Dr E
          kati
          sam tone
          blessed
          doodoo
          bingo
          wary
          alaqeada
          sam stone (stolen)
          al
          observer
          sammy
          karie
          bethany
          barry
          blake
          faith
          hharri
          charlie
          terry
          mary
          yudhisthira mahabharata jr
          eddie
          tex
          dewie
          Pharisee DM
          This person is guaranteeing that it will lose any lawsuit it has filed. LMAO. Hypocrite. Liar. Lying hypocrite.
          Think anyone is afraid of you? We laugh at you, and the court will after reading your rot and your continued threats. Hope the court and your "lawyers" fleece you for bringing up such a laughable lawsuit.

          October 10, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  11. sam stone

    hell offends our fiends when it is personal.

    this isn't about jumping rope kids. it is about heaven and hell, life and death, your future, the future of all of us and if you are going to condemn and threaten christians with bodily harm, removing their voting rights, insult them constantly with perverted claims, be prepared to confront truth. indeed, these disgusting animals r just like the butchers of THE LAMB. THEY DESPISED HIM. HE HAD TO BE ENDED. THE FILTHY, DEMON POSSESSED KLLRS HAVE INHERITED THAT SAME spirit which led to the most unjust trial in history. NEVER AGAIN, girls

    October 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Max

      The biggest troll on here has the following names, and repeatedly breaks the 8th and 9th Commandments:
      slappy
      tt
      point being
      louie
      cherrie
      prophet
      Dr E
      kati
      sam tone
      blessed
      doodoo
      bingo
      wary
      alaqeada
      sam stone (stolen)
      al
      observer
      sammy
      kari
      bethany
      barry
      blake
      faith
      hharri
      charlie
      terry
      mary
      yudhisthira mahabharata jr
      eddie
      tex
      dewie
      Pharisee DM

      This person was showcased 2x in this article as "Karie" and as "Meredith", a name this person stole from a 9/11 WIDOW, showing how truly sick it is. Christian? Not. Liar? Yes.

      October 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • M. McKenna

      Merely to disagree is not an insult.

      November 1, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  12. sam stone

    Hugh Jazz
    "Dear Mr. "slappy,"
    I believe Mr. Blake neglected the sixth interweb archetype, the one to which you closely resemble upon first impression:
    The commenter who, for reasons unknown, chooses to make ludicrous and incendiary statements with the sole intention of drawing negative attention and provoking arguments...
    the troll"

    u mean like 12 gauge fellating shotgun spray your face stanky donkey pounding hurt but? punks. go pound sand

    October 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  13. Caleb Boone

    Dear Mr. Blake:

    Your point is well-taken.

    To respond to athiests' arguments wrathfully as a Christian is to contradict the Holy Spirit.

    God is Love.

    Jesus is also Pure Love.

    Christians are to embody the Personality and Presence of Jesus.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    October 10, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • slappy

      i too agree. except 4 pharisees. christ lovingly cautioned them, as the perverted disgusting hypocrites that they were, that everything they valued was hellish and devoid of righteousness. the athies posting here day and nite r direct descendants of those lying, poisonous vipers and poised 4 a burning hot future. lol

      October 10, 2013 at 8:34 am |
      • Hugh Jazz

        Dear Mr. "slappy,"

        I believe Mr. Blake neglected the sixth interweb archetype, the one to which you closely resemble upon first impression:

        The commenter who, for reasons unknown, chooses to make ludicrous and incendiary statements with the sole intention of drawing negative attention and provoking arguments...

        the troll

        October 10, 2013 at 9:57 am |
        • Akira

          Hugh:
          He did address the person posting as "slappy". That's just "Karie", or "faith/hhari", or whatever name its going under today.
          This person isn't Christian. This person is all about hate.

          October 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • sam stone

          well, do u dare debate this issue? no? gee, y? because this dump is a fraud, a joke. it is coming under scrutiny for activity which is illegal and tortious.

          find criticism of the sick, demented, pervert, sam stone, by a fellow atheist. good luck

          October 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • sam stone

          "Hugh:
          He did address the person posting as "slappy". That's just "Karie", or "faith/hhari", or whatever name its going under today.
          This person isn't Christian. This person is all about hate."

          how would u no this, alqaeda? feel free to fill us in. no? y?

          October 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • sam stone

          Hugh Jazz
          "Dear Mr. "slappy,"
          I believe Mr. Blake neglected the sixth interweb archetype, the one to which you closely resemble upon first impression:
          The commenter who, for reasons unknown, chooses to make ludicrous and incendiary statements with the sole intention of drawing negative attention and provoking arguments...
          the troll"

          u mean like 12 gauge fellating shotgun spray your face stanky donkey pounding hurt but? punks. go pound sand.

          October 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  14. NotSoFast

    Ironically, as an atheist, I appreciate the life I have and others far more than I did before I realized that religion and all that comes with it is shear nonsense.... It was in fact, the light bulb of reason and common sense coming on for me.... now I feel regret that I wasted so many years clinging to that abysmal and neurotic belief system.....

    October 9, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Trevor

      From one belief "system" to another... One with purpose and meaning the other without .

      October 10, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • shamgar50

        One for reason, one for fools and believers of fairy tales.

        October 13, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  15. michael dell

    I'm at peace with my creator, Nature doesn't torture after death but grants eternal peace.

    October 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  16. A fellow traveler

    Well here we all are, journeying together in this astonishing thing called life. If it were up to me we'd all get our spiritual lessons shared with us by a caring shaman in a nice tropical rain forest, but instead we are here on belief blog with our electronics. No matter. Whatever your background I hope you appreciate the moment.

    October 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  17. lulu

    Call the marines if the cops r busy. Call the navy, the seals, black ops and yo momma

    October 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  18. wrm

    Either you have faith or you don't. I don't. You do? Fine. There's nothing to argue.

    October 9, 2013 at 8:24 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.