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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. HeavenSent

    Keep standing on the wrong side of the tracks and throwing sand in the face of Jesus. You prideful atheists will burn in hell. The kittens are back in the freezer because I did not have time to empty the litter box in the oven. It is time for you to read Jesus' gift to us, the Bible.

    Amen.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • magicpanties

      Thanks for the reminder that your "loving" god will torture me for eternity just because I don't declare my love for him/her/it.

      Now that's what I call True Love.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      HeavingScent, it's time to put the bottle down. Lay off the pills, too. All that stuff is making you crazy. Are you saying the Bible came from Jesus? Wasn't the Old Testament written long before Jesus was on the scene? What is Jesus doing down by the railroad tracks? The last I saw of him, he was in the tavern having a beer with your mother.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • HeavenSent

        Christians come on these blogs to tell the Truth about Jesus and His love for us. Follow His path and spend eternity in paradise. The FBI returned one of my couch cushions but I can't get the stains out. Read the Bible and be saved.

        Amen.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • really

      Thanks! You made me laugh.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  2. 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.worpdress.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?

    October 5, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm fond of the handle I use for a number of reasons, Rainer. It is closely related to my actual name. It gives me anonymity that is necessary because I do publish a bit out in the "real" world. Informal publication, which is what this is, might be confused with my real stuff without that anonymity.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Regular Spammer Identifier

      Ah – the princess of Germany checks in. Why not go all out today, Rainy and tell us how we're not Baptizing people correctly?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Rainy, I see you are confused and under the influence of some sort of prescription drug you have taken improperly. Do the attendants know where you are? Be a good chap and return to your room before they let loose the blood hounds to look for you. You've surrendered your mind to the magic of Jesus. Now it's time to surrender your body to science. Vivisection performed by a mad scientist (naturally a Christian one) would do you good.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      i would suggest you extract the bible from your rectum, rainy

      October 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  3. Yes

    What's there to argue about? Religion denounces the concept of learning. That's how you know it's wrong. End of story.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • GAW

      End of story = Don't question my point of view.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • really

      Thank you Scholar Yes. I wasn't aware of that and because of your wisdom, I"m going to throw all my personally held beliefs out the window. Oh wait, you just jumped into the giant mousetrap the author laid as he was trolling for people to confirm his thesis about the type of people who reply to articles on religion. The main point that struck me was, regardless of what you believe, being civil and courteous (like my kindergarten teacher taught me and I sometimes struggle to remember), is a good way for conversations to be productive. Would you agree?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • G to the T

        Logic rarely works with hysterical people. Sometime a good slap is what they need to come back to reality.

        October 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  4. GAW

    John Gabriel was right.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  5. cmoursler

    LOL!!!!!! And the beat goes on. Did you really think that whole "speak to, not at each other" thing would work. We have the government, the society and the relationships we deserve.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  6. Chris

    This read consisted of advice on how to disrespect those that still have American core beliefs. Was I to expect anything less from CNN?

    October 5, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  7. Peteyroo

    Belief in Jesus/God is akin to believing in unicorns and leprechauns. I see it as nonsense. Little children believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. When they grow up, they stop believing such things. Why do folks cling to Jesus and God? Is it that they don't understand the world around them, so they need some magical explanation? People are routinely locked away in asylums for hearing voices (e.g. Napoleon, Madame Curie, the King of England), but if the voices they hear are from God or Jesus it's OK.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • really

      Peteyroo – Lots of folks very firmly believe in concepts that other people think are off the wall. Based on your comments, you might benefit from spending some time with some good people who are religious to try and understand what they believe and why. I've done this with Muslims, Atheists, and Christians and choose to respect their beliefs. You also may discover why doctors, theologists, and legalists understand there is a fairly large gap between mental illness, childhood stories, and believing in a supreme being, the Earth as a Goddess, etc.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
      • really

        Oh, and I respect your right to believe that believing in Jesus/God is akin to believing in the Easter Bunny, etc. However, it's simply your belief not a fact as you can't prove the non-existence of those who believe in a supreme being of some sort. See the issue? Others have tried to force their beliefs on non-believers through war, torture, etc. and it's still going on. However, there are also plenty of quieter, less bloody examples of religious people doing great things (though stories like that don't make the news since 'If it bleeds, it leads' and people won't click on an article about a group of Muslim, Christian, Athiests, or Wiccans painting a school as an act of service and love.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Sarah

      You obviously did not read this article thoroughly.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • Peteyroo

        How so, Sarah?

        October 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  8. >.

    Lamest trolls ever.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • <.

      pot kettle

      October 5, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  9. EvinAR

    I don't get what this formerly-religious person now atheist is supposed to argue with a still-religious person. Am I supposed to not be honest about what they're doing to themselves?

    Religious people are not 'weak-minded'..... they're 'average-minded', meaning that every human being who doesn't know everything (i.e. everyone) is susceptible to making guesses about reality, mostly in favor of their own outcome being ideal. For instance, even if you're a sinner and a Catholic, if you were raised Catholic, then you'll probably stay Catholic as long as you don't see yourself as a misfit in that community. If you stop going to church because you start wanting to learn more about something else, maybe atheism, maybe a conspiracy theory, maybe another religion, that has less dissonance with your current state of knowledge, then you will see yourself as unfit for Catholicism and want to believe things that maybe haven't been proven to you by one of those other factions that will turn out to be more ideal for you. For atheists, maybe it's a belief that we'll find extra-terrestrial life or that we'll be able to live longer, or that we'll provide nutrition for another life-form in a way that keeps life's legacy going... you really can't escape one kind of faith or another, although I warn people that some faiths are definitely more ignorant of humankind's growing heritage of knowledge than others. The Earth is not 6,000 years old, and we were not alive while dinosaurs existed–these things are not wishful beliefs of atheist scientists... they are certain enough as substantiated by enough branches of discipline to be facts, a.k.a. things that can be known by drawing from very little faith that the Universe remains intelligible and predictable on a macroscopic level.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • oliver

      Well said.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Sarah

      The writer of this article refers to how he used to have great, long talks with his Athiest friend – where does he claim to be an atheist? The entire point of this article is to show how ridiculous people are when they comment/argue/debate about their beliefs vs. another's beliefs.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Light of Purest Truth

    How is there any right way to argue about our Blessed Creator? It is very obvious that the same vile sinners that write in these comments are the same Satanic fornicators that trying to destroy our land that God blessed so long ago. If they knew how soon He will be returning to smite all of them, they would fall to their knees and beg for His divine mercy! The mark has been put upon the land and there is little time for these vile creatures to repent. They face an eternity of agonizing burning in Hell! It is time that they accept His mercy and love!

    October 5, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • bobby1507

      You're insane

      October 5, 2013 at 11:55 am |
      • worldlypatriotusaveteran

        Probably not insane, but clearly delusional, unable to use reason about the tenets of religious faith, and is a believer in false promises.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Sol Deus

      With insane and condemning statements like that, is it really a wonder that those who have discovered that the key parts of religion are made up (most came up in the religion of there parents since children are more susceptible to believing made up things), are just a bit defensive. All the majority of this wants is to not be bothered by the religious. If believing in myths makes you happy, fine, but don't ever try to impose your beliefs on the rest of us.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • magicpanties

      Yeah, your "loving" god will torture me for eternity just because I don't declare my love for him/her/it.

      Wow, what's not to like?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • EvinAR

      There is no right way to argue about something which can never be proven. You are correct. You will never be able to prove that what's in your mind about your own beliefs is substantiated by anything more than years and years of conditioning and 'enlightenment' per say. Whereas I might be able to show you, step by step, how logic and reason develop from the absurdly simple to our more complex assertions today, about how reality works, and some of those would definitely conflict with your opinions and ideas relating to normal reality... you would never let go of a continual buy-up of ignorant 'real-estate' for the existence of a god, and angels, a heaven and hell, etc. You will always recede away from the center of humanity's logic in following a blind faith like that, and be INCREASINGLY unable to tie it back to anything you'd know for certain.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • hey now

      Do you feel better now?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • JesusLovesVileSinners

      Are you serious????
      Christ so loved those "vile sinners" you so self-righteously castigate that He gave His very life for them... They were the sole reason that He came to earth... and they are the reason why YOU also have a chance to be saved...

      October 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • Pfft

        Sinners were the people Jesus also put around himself and tried to teach. Modern Christians do nothing but spew hate about sinners. They don't follow Jesus' teachings whatsoever.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • mike

      Reading your post makes me glad I don't believe in your religion.

      What you describe is a terrible way for a religion to operate. Holding the threat of eternal Hell over people's heads is itself pretty hellish. It's as if the religion is your parent and you can never grow up and be your own person. So sad.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  11. Ian D Mclennan

    I would say to you that you are righteous to God. God loves you right where you are. Dont change. It does not really matter what you think because God deals with the heart. The message reads unconditional LOVE. Mill Bay, BC. Canada. V0R2P4. 2507434742 Phone Ian 🙂

    October 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • bobby1507

      You're also insane

      October 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  12. bostontola

    Any debate that pits opinion against evidence will likely lead to an unruly melee. Faith is the ultimate extreme point of opinion. The result is quite predictable (and fun).

    The position on the poles are based on polar opposite things, religion is based on faith (belief without evidence), atheism is based on the need for evidence. That is a pretty wide gulf to bridge.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • stevezagata

      Exactly. The argument pits reality against fantasy.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • really

        However, the author's point is that being courteous and respecting other people's right to believe in what they choose will result in a more civil discourse. If you are having an educated, civil discussion with a person who is religious, do you think saying "My world is ruled by reality while your world is ruled by fantasy" would positively engage that person in the conversation or turn up the heat towards the punch-throwing end of the spectrum?

        October 5, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  13. rl

    I try my best not to argue about religion in person or on a blog. As far as I am concerned everyone looses and there are nothing but hard feeling left. The only thing I will say and I truly believe this is that if you claim to be a "Good" Christian, you probably aren't. As a matter of fact if you feel the need to tell anyone you are a "Good" anything, you probably are not.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • JesusLovesVileSinners

      @ RL – I totally agree with you! I have a deep faith in God through Christ but I have stopped going to church and I run as fast as I can in the opposite direction when someone self-identifies as a "Christian". Why? Politics have become so embedded in religion that you are assumed to belong to a particular Party (e.g. Republican) if you say you are a Christian. I find that the most hateful sentiments and rhetoric come from people who call themselves Christians. I prefer to be around the atheists and other "vile sinners" because they are generally more honest, and kinder to other human beings that so-called Christians.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      Whar if I am really good at being bad?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
      • Emmanuel Goldstein

        *what

        October 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  14. scotiatom

    So, what we just read here was almost verbatim the same as people heard every day last week and will hear every day next week, in their company monthly sales meeting, hosted by the company's Sales Director, or Director of marketing.
    Whether is is a Cable TV company, a Custom Kitchen installer or a hotel chain, the spiel is the same.
    Mr. Blake here is the Director of Marketing or Sales Director of the biggest insurance company in the world, and nothing more.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  15. Dave

    Well after reading this article, all I can say is "Welcome to the Dark Side!" Congratz, you're one of us!

    October 5, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  16. laceydon

    I post fairly often and have done so almost since the beginning of the Internet. I started on a New York Times site. I've met all of the types mentioned in the article.

    The "Street Corner Prophet" is the type that most disappoints me. How can the love of God be seen in the vitriol?

    I enjoy conversing with "Atheists." Many of them do know a lot about the Bible, though that is different from knowing the Bible. What many of them do know is the scientific worldview; I have learned a lot about science from their posts. Often they are the more intelligent posters – or at least sound so. Many of the wiser among them are good debaters. And they are passionate.

    I could wish that more Christians were both passionate and wise in their defense of the faith.

    I would add one piece of advice for Christians who are explaining their faith on the Internet: Don't use a lot of Scripture. Use small pieces and explain. Few will read longer pieces, and few understand the point being made.

    Sometimes I think posting comments is futile – or worse. But perhaps there are lurkers who gain some insight, and I mean insight into people as well as ideas. So to my fellow Christians, be Christlike. That is the thing others will notice.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • JesusLovesVileSinners

      @ Laceydon
      You said "So to my fellow Christians, be Christlike. " And what does that mean?
      Compassion for the poor, loving the "sinner" so much that you are willing to give your life for him/her...

      I would add (and I might be wrong on this point) – STAY AWAY FROM CHURCHES AND RELIGIONISTS – THEY WILL CORRUPT YOU!

      October 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Apple Bush

    The Atheists are not arguing on this blog. We are telling you the truth. Nobody knows anything about gods or how life got started on this planet.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • JesusLovesVileSinners

      Applebush –
      I would choose to hang out with an atheist over a so-called Christian any day of the week because atheists do not pretend to be something that they are not, and they do not proclaim a faith in Christ and then live un-Christlike lives. I prefer their honesty about their beliefs than the dishonesty of most so-called Christians who hate anyone who does not hold their views about politics, religion, etc.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  18. HeavenSent

    You atheists come on these blogs to spew your lies about your father satan, who is a liar. My 12-year-old daughter gets off at 2am and then we count her tips. Jesus said He would send unto us teachers, having itchy ears.

    Amen.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • bostontola

      My hat is off to you, I really can't tell if you're serious or trolling. Awesome job.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • laceydon

      What?? You're not making sense. What is your 12 year-old daughter doing up at 2:00 AM? What does counting tips have to do with this topic?

      If you are going to express the Bible's point of view, make sense and be kind.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • gr8turf24

      What does that even mean?

      October 5, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Peteyroo

      HeavingScent, you are so full of manure, you stink! What's up with your 12-year-old daughter working at 2:00am? Why are you counting her tips? They belong to her not you. Are you stealing her money? What job can a 12-year-old have that keeps her up till 2:00am?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • really

      Bravo! Troll award! Got a few folks to reply. Too bad there isn't an internet site where we could read an article then vote for the best troll reply. Kinda like a reality show for trolls...

      October 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • visitor

      You do get the troll prize. Troll away 🙂

      October 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  19. Jeff

    How are these angry trollers in these religion forums any different than the angry trollers in the other forums?

    October 5, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • really

      Not at all. They are simply looking for people to acknowledge their existence. Two year olds will seek negative attention if they don't get attention from doing positive actions. Trolls frequently seem to demonstrate the same motives.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  20. jj

    How about arguing with logic, rationality, and facts?

    October 5, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Gimmeslack12

      You're crazy man. Facts aren't real!

      October 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Darwufche

      Right on, JJ!

      October 5, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Chris

      3....2....1......Go.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • really

      Like the fact that existence of a Supreme Being (God, Mohammed, Mother Earth) cannot be proved or disproved and thus belief by humans will continue despite atheists and others wanting to change their beliefs? War and torture have been tried unsuccessfully through out the ages to convert those who think differently with very limited success over the long haul. Furthermore, war and torture make the news. Stories about groups of people doing good things in their communities as self-less acts of service really don't interest that many people or sell that much advertising. So we look for examples of 'religious' people doing bad things and focus on that – like the Westborough Baptist 'Christians' to prove all people who are religious are bad.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:35 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.