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Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’
The rapid rise of the "spiritual but not religious" crowd may not be such a bad thing.
February 22nd, 2014
09:06 PM ET

Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’

Opinion by Linda Mercadante, special to CNN

(CNN) -
Despite the ongoing decline in American religious institutions, the meteoric rise in people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious” should be seen positively - especially by religious people.

To accept this as good news, however, we need to listen to what they are saying, rather than ridicule them as “salad bar spiritualists” or eclectic dabblers.

After spending more than five years speaking with hundreds of “spiritual but not religious” folk across North America, I’ve come to see a certain set of core ideas among them. Because of their common themes, I think it’s fair to refer to them by the acronym: SBNR.

But before we explore what the SBNRs believe, we first need to learn what they protest.

First, they protest “scientism.” 

They’ve become wary about reducing everything that has value to what can only be discovered in the tangible world, restricting our intellectual confidence to that which can be observed and studied.

Their turn towards alternative health practices is just one sign of this. Of course, most do avail themselves of science’s benefits, and they often use scientific-sounding arguments (talking about “energy” or “quantum physics”) to justify their spiritual views.

But, in general, they don’t think all truth and value can be confined to our material reality.

Second, SBNRs protest “secularism.” 

They are tired of being confined by systems and structures. They are tired of having their unique identities reduced to bureaucratic codes. They are tired of having their spiritual natures squelched or denied.

They play by society’s rules: hold down jobs, take care of friends and family and try to do some good in the world. But they implicitly protest being rendered invisible and unheard.

Third, yes, they protest religion – at least, two types of it.

But the SBNR rejection of religion is sometimes more about style than substance.

On one hand, they protest “rigid religion,” objecting to a certain brand of conservatism that insists there is only one way to express spirituality, faith, and the search for transcendence.

But they also protest what I call “comatose religion.”

After the shocks of the previous decades, and the declines in religious structures and funding, many religious people are dazed and confused.

They are puzzled and hurt that so many – including their own children - are deserting what was once a vibrant, engaging, and thriving part of American society.

So why, then, is it “good news” that there is a huge rise in the “spiritual but not religious”? Because their protests are the very same things that deeply concern – or should concern – all of us.

The rise in SBNRs is the archetypal “wake up call,” and I sense that, at last, religious leaders are beginning to hear it.

The history of religion in Western society shows that, sooner or later, people grasp the situation and find new ways of expressing their faith that speak to their contemporaries.

In the meantime, there are plenty of vital congregations in our society. In the vast mall of American religious options, it is misguided to dismiss all of our spiritual choices as moribund, corrupt, or old-fashioned – even though so many do.

What has prompted SBNRs, and others, to make this dismissal?

For one thing, many religious groups are not reaching out to the SBNRs. They need to understand them and speak their language, rather than being fearful or dismissive.

Second, the media often highlights the extremes and bad behavior of a few religious people and groups.  But we don’t automatically give up on other collections of fallible human beings, like our jobs, our families, or our own selves.  Some attitude adjustment is needed by both religious people and SBNRs.

Finally, SBNRs need to give up the easy ideology that says religion is unnecessary, all the same, or outmoded. And all of us should discard the unworkable idea that you must find a spiritual or religious group with which you totally agree.  Even if such a group could be found, chances are it would soon become quite boring.

There’s no getting around this fact: It is hard work to nurture the life of faith. The road is narrow and sometimes bumpy. It is essential to have others along with us on the journey.

All of us, not just religious people, are in danger of becoming rigid or comatose, inflexible or numb.  All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about.

Linda Mercadante, is professor of theology at The Methodist Theological School and the founder of Healthy Beliefs – Healthy Spirit.  She is the author of “Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.

The views expressed in this column belong to Mercadante.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Lost faith • Nones • Opinion • Spirituality • Trends

soundoff (1,265 Responses)
  1. SeaVik

    People who are "Spiritual but not religious" are only marginally better than people who are religious. We know for a fact that all religious books are false and therefore, the gods described by those stories do not exist. So, we know all religious people are delusional. "SBNR" people, on the other hand, believe in some undefined version of god for which they have no evidence whatsoever. We don't know with 100% certainty that they're wrong like we do with religious people, but it is almost as irrational to believe in something for which there is no evidence as it is to believe in something we know to be untrue.

    February 24, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
    • new-man

      Mr. Bonnke is so worth repeating: Atheism is intellectual vandalism.

      we know for a fact?
      we don't know with 100% certainty??

      February 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
      • SeaVik

        Yes, we know for a fact that the Christian version of god (ie, the one described in the bible) does not exist. We know that with 100% certainty. We don't know with 100% certainty that there are no gods at all, we just no there is no evidence to suggest the existence of any gods.

        February 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
      • bostontola

        I think he meant:
        Fact: religious scriptures contain errors and inconsistencies.
        Not 100% sure: there is no God of any kind.

        February 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Correct.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
        • new-man

          thanks.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
      • igaftr

        newman
        "Atheism is intellectual vandalism."
        Exactly how is not believing in unfounded, unverifiable dogma intellectual vandalism?

        Isn't teaching something as if it were true when you cannot show it to be true intellectual vandalism? teaching something as if it had an intellectual basis, which belief has not?

        February 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
  2. thefinisher1

    Atheism is on a decline. Sorry atheists, nobody wants to join your cult.

    Buh bye atheism! See you in the fiction sections where you belong.

    February 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      LOLOL

      February 24, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
      • SeaVik

        Apparently you have a different definition of the word "decline". In fact, you seem to have your own unique definition for most words. I admire the courage it must take to completely disregard what the dictionary teaches us about the meaning of words and go your own way.

        February 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    christianity is on the decline. Sorry folks but your cult is becoming a historical punchline.

    buh bye!

    February 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
  4. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Clumps of monkeys flinging poo at one another.
    That's all humans are.
    ...
    Primates, with primate reactions to everything.

    Poo everywhere.

    February 24, 2014 at 11:44 am |
    • Austin

      For all have sinned.

      February 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Speak for yourself nutcase... there is no such thing as 'sin'

        February 24, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • new-man

          Sin is rebellion against God. A sinner is a rebel. Rebels go beyond the limits and boundaries God has set.
          Rebels do wrong before right. Rebels fail to come up to the standards set by God? What are the standards? They’re revealed throughout the Bible, but they’re summarized in the Ten Commandments. Rebels go their own way in life. Rebels are self-willed not God-willed. To not be God-willed is the greatest sin of all. Why? Firstly it deeply offends holy God, secondly your unholy life doesn’t work. That too offends God. Rebels say their life works, but deep down they know it doesn’t!

          Rebels believe if they fully surrender their life to God He’ll take away all their freedom and liberty. The reality is you have no freedom and liberty until you do fully surrender your life to Him. That’s why it’s called the gospel, not a half gospel. The gospel shows us without God, we are helpless, hopeless and useless. That was never God’s plan for any human being; His plan was for us to be helpful, hopeful and useful. Sin fills us with the former but deprives us of the latter.

          That’s one reason why Jesus tells us, without Me you can do nothing John 15:5.

          http://www.realityrevelations.com

          February 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          The ridiculous nonsense that your cult believes and propagates is simultaneously funny and also deeply troubling for the human race...

          "Religion: the word of man trying to convince other men that it is the word of God" ~LET

          February 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
        • eudaimonia2013

          "Religion: the word of man trying to convince other men that it is the word of God" ~LET

          lol I like that. May I add?

          "Religion: the word of man trying to convince other men that it is the word of a superior invisible ent.ity; the existence of which has never been proven."

          February 25, 2014 at 11:16 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Sin lies only in harming others unnecessarily.
        All other "sin" is invented nonsense.

        February 24, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
  5. Stephan Miller

    Reblogged this on Creating a New Earth Together and commented:
    I know.....of all places....CNN but this is actually a fairly decent article on the subject.

    February 24, 2014 at 11:09 am |
  6. new-man

    God’s Love Makes You Strong
    Eph 3:19 … know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    If you were to thank God for something today, what would it be? For me, it would be thanking God for giving me Jesus. For when I see Jesus on the cross, I see the love of God overcoming everything for me. It causes me to say, “Thank you, Jesus! I love you, Jesus! I worship you, Jesus! Bless you, Jesus! Hallelujah!”

    February 24, 2014 at 10:48 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      "For when I see Jesus on the cross, I see the love of God"

      Wow, so you think a parent allowing their own child to be murdered is acceptable??? You're loonier than a $3 bill!

      February 24, 2014 at 10:51 am |
      • new-man

        TP:
        This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:57 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          I do that without needing a god or a holy book, why is it you can't?
          It has been said that if you need the bible to be moral, then you're not moral to begin with. If you believe you'd be committing crimes without the few good parts from that book, then have at it because obviously you wouldn't be safe on the streets.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:00 am |
        • new-man

          TP: "Wow, so you think a parent allowing their own child to be murdered is acceptable??? You're loonier than a $3 bill!

          new-man: "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

          TP: I do that without needing a god or a holy book, why is it you can't?

          First it was loony, now you do it.... which is it?

          Those who believe they can live a truly righteous life without Christ fool no one but themselves.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • ausphor

          new
          You believe you are so superior to everyone else because you have a myth to believe in. Read your posts.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • new-man

          you have a belief system as well.

          we must choose which covenant we want. Do we want to be free or do we want to be in bondage under the rule of the weak and beggarly elements of the law? Do we want to serve the spirit or the flesh? Do we want to remain in a fallen state or do we want to obtain a restoration of what Adam lost? If restoration is what we want, then are we willing to cast out the state of bondage and enter the freedom of the New Jerusalem?

          Are we now willing to cast out the bondwoman relationships of law and replace them with the free woman relationships of
          love? Are we ready to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God?
          GAL 4:24

          February 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • hotairace

          An atheist's belief system is based on logic, evidence and common sense. You believe in that for which there is no logic or evidence, and very little common sense (The Babble did get some dietary advice right) and ignores logic, evidence and common sense that does not support your belief in alleged but never proven supernatural buddies. You are delusional. Seek help. Stay away from children.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
        • Austin

          So we say delusions and take away the morality and rebrand it while we say delusions.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
        • ausphor

          new
          Fortunately there are 5 billion people that have escaped your gods and Jesus' clutches, praise the lord. You may be in a fallen state and need a crutch to help you live, good for you, I hope it works out well for you. You could face the reality in your life with out the security blanket.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • eudaimonia2013

        "Why continuously quote scripture? It proves nothing, you're not convincing us."

        Truth Prevails- In all seriousness, this is one thing that truly unnerves me about anyone of "faith." Wrapped up in faith is the delusion of the power in the words, power in the belief itself. It makes people do wholly irrational and self- detrimental things. They make decisions based off the imaginings in their head. Pursue things that are not healthy or beneficial with the belief that "god wants this" or "they will change once they hear the word"- (this destroys many families btw). "If I keep posting the love of God will prevail over the evil on this post" or the "devil in the midst." It allows them to justify ill behavior in their leaders.. because a man of god deserves forgiveness.. so the concept of justice, empathy and rationality fly out the window. This does not allow anyone to reflect on illogical conclusions they hold, errors in thinking and possible delusion.

        February 24, 2014 at 11:01 am |
        • new-man

          eu:" Wrapped up in faith is the delusion of the power in the words, power in the belief itself"
          Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
          Words create thoughts and thoughts create things. All of us are where we are today as a result of our thoughts. When God granted me the enablement to discover that truth through the revelation of His written, living word, I made it my business once and for all to reject and renounce the words and opinions of man, whenever they conflict with His word.

          http://realityrevelations.com/2009/10/19/if-words-are-powerful-how-powerful-are-gods/

          Words are not mere sounds that come from our mouth. You could say that they are living active agents sent forth either for good or for hurt – to build up or tear down. Words live. One meaning of the New Testament word “curse” is “execrate” and it means: “to detest utterly; imprecate evil upon; damn; abominate; denounce.” Without knowledge or intention, that is what we are doing when we speak negative words over our own life or over the lives of others. Examples: You moron. You idiot. You’ll never do it. You’re stupid. You’re ugly. You’re not qualified, You’re too old, too young, too fat. You always…… You never……

          February 24, 2014 at 11:40 am |
        • eudaimonia2013

          What's missing in your assessment is the connection between human beings.. not the words themselves.. It's called "context." If I posted over and over how I love Zeus.. It would mean nothing to the majority of Christians- UNLESS there was some emotional connection to his story that they've already expressed. For me to know whether or not my words have meaning or "power", I would have to leave the delusional world of "just feeling like zeus is wonderful " to what are the reasons people reject zeus and listen to them without a biased ear. To do this I would have to suspend my ego attachment to my belief and step into another world outside of my own. It is the inability to do this that informs the actions of many people of "faith" and why it is so dangerous imo. Can you imagine the person you are today, a lover of Christianity, in the midst of a majority zeus loving nation? It might be hard to do.. but could you understand the mind of a zeus lover who constantly tells you that zeus loves you? How about admonishing you because you don't accept zeus. Probably not.. but at least know this.. that is what you look and sound like to many. Delusional. Spouting words without any context or meaning to the people or things around you. No rational thought. Just in your own head. Honestly, and sincerely, that is sad and a little frightening to me. It makes me feel sorry for you.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
        • new-man

          well I reject that piece of nonsense you just wrote.

          it's not context that determines the power of words... it's belief.
          So if you said you love Zeus a million times and do not believe what you say, there is no power behind your words.
          Why do you think people don't fall over and die each time they say things like .."they're dying of laughter or dying for a piece of cake etc."... it's because they don't believe what they're saying.

          On the other hand, someone in "authority" can say to a person, you're dying of this disease, and even though the person doesn't have that disease, most will die because they BELIEVED what was told to them.

          Everybody's words have power.
          I bet you're feeling slighted/insulted right now.... that's the power of words.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
        • eudaimonia2013

          The "context" is for you to consider not the other person. You are the proselytizer not the person you're attempting to sway. You're not talking to believers. Context = "the circu.mstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed." We are discussing the inability of a mind to process basic logic and accurately see himself in the context of a discussion. That is scary.

          Also, I do not feel insulted. I stated I feel sorry for you. I still do. Given the context of this discussion, I realize simple concepts like considering the context in which you proselytize is a difficult thing for you to grasp so there is nothing left to say and unfortunately leave you to your delusion.

          Hopefully, someone not as far gone will see your mind in this dialog and reflect upon their own thinking and methods of conversing.

          Adieu..

          February 24, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Insane in the membrane...

      February 24, 2014 at 10:51 am |
    • new-man

      And as we worship and celebrate the love of Jesus in our lives, we will find ourselves changed, and we will see the mighty power of God displayed for us and through us.

      This was the case in the life of David. His personal times of worship, of being ab.sorbed in God’s love for him, changed him from a mere shepherd boy to a lion killer, bear killer, giant killer and finally, a king over Israel.

      February 24, 2014 at 10:51 am |
      • new-man

        Now, no one on earth, no matter how strong he is, let alone a youth, can co.me against a lion and pry open its mouth to sn.atch back his sheep which the lion had carried away, unless God’s a.n.oi.nting is on him. And this was indeed what happened to David the she.pherd boy who went after the lion, cau.ght it by its beard, struck and kil.led it, and thus delivered the lamb from its jaws. (1 Samuel 17:34–37)

        February 24, 2014 at 10:53 am |
        • new-man

          y friend, no man can truly enjoy living in this world without God’s strength in his life, God’s favor in his work and relationships, God’s protection for him and his family, God’s increase in his finances, and God’s health and healing for his body. Likewise, no woman can survive emotionally, socially or physically without God’s tender touch, loving presence, sweet as.su.rance and words of life in times of need. Beloved, as you feed on Jesus’ love for you, you will be filled with the fullness of God. Like David, God’s an.ointing will begin to operate powerfully in your life. And when you enc.ounter spiritual lions, even the devil himself—when he comes like a roaring lion against you, your loved ones or your pos.ses.sions—you will grab hold of his mouth and tear him apart!

          JPM

          February 24, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Why continuously quote scripture? It proves nothing, you're not convincing us.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • new-man

          Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
          Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
          Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
          And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
          Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
          He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:06 am |
        • Doris

          TP1: "Why continuously quote scripture? It proves nothing, you're not convincing us."

          Yes, well some spread garlic around to ward off vampires. It's just a psychotic reaction.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • hotairace

          I believe that no one who uses garlic to ward off vampires has seen a vampire so it must work.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:15 am |
        • otoh2

          new-man,

          You think those stories about David are real?

          You need to read some of the other mythology that's been out there over the eons. You should read about Odysseus and how he was favored by the Greek gods, and how they helped him conquer all sorts of beasts and trials:
          http://www.studyworld.com/newsite/reportessay/literature/Play%5COdysseus__A_Greek_Epic_Hero-40747.htm

          And that's just one of many, many epic god-touched hero stories dreamed up by men. There is scant to no evidence for King David, let alone evidence of his god-favoredness.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • new-man

          otoh2:

          I will say in all seriousness I am impressed you haven't given me a Wikipedia link.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
      • ausphor

        Oops, thou shall not kill; David had a nice life but if you really believe your nonsense he is burning in hell.

        February 24, 2014 at 11:06 am |
        • new-man

          no wonder you're an unbeliever, as you lack the very basic understanding of grace and why Christ died.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:10 am |
        • new-man

          Firstly every accountable person outside of Jesus Christ has already been judged by God and found guilty. The charge? Sinner. The penalty? Death. He who does not believe is condemned (judged) already John 3:18. However, the Christian gospel is not called Good News for nothing. God offers sinners a glorious alternative, “turn from your sin, turn to Christ and live.” That’s called repentance. For the one who repents, Jesus says, Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life John 5:24. Theologians call this “present salvation.” Jesus paid the price of death for the believer’s sins. He was judged in his/her place and he/she will not come into judgment.

          http://realityrevelations.com/2013/10/21/so-which-judgment-for-you/#more-16075

          February 24, 2014 at 11:16 am |
        • In Santa We Trust

          New, Do you have any evidence to support any of that (other than "the bible tells me")? No evidence that Jesus was the son of a god, that he was resurrected, that sin exists, that we are all sinners, that there is heaven and hell, or that spiritual redemption is possible.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • ausphor

          Christ died because he affronted the civil power and the Rabbis of the time claiming he was the Messiah. BTW there were dozens of Messiah wandering around telling anyone that would listen that they were the one to fulfil the prophecy, many were also crucified. The myth built up around jesus was promoted by Constantine for his own benefit.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Tell me; where is the love?
      In a careless creation
      When there’s no “above”
      There’s no justice
      Just a cause and no cure
      And a bounty of suffering
      It seems we all endure
      And what I’m frightened of
      Is that they call it “God’s love”

      My pain is "God's love"

      – Dr. Greg Graffin

      February 24, 2014 at 10:56 am |
    • doobzz

      "when I see Jesus on the cross, I see the love of God overcoming everything for me."

      Interesting that you see the practice of human sacrifice to appease a god as an act of love. Most people are appalled by the very idea of human sacrifice.

      February 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
  7. bostontola

    Speaking of good news:

    Small Pox – disease of the past
    Rinderpest- disease of the past
    Polio – soon to be disease of the past
    Yaws – soon to be disease of the past
    Malaria – soon to be disease of the past
    Cancer – potential disease of the past?
    Heart disease – potential disease of the past?
    Depression – potential disease of the past?
    Schizophrenia – potential disease of the past?
    Religion – ?

    February 24, 2014 at 10:36 am |
    • hotairace

      Religious – potential disease of the past but not being eradicated at the rate it should be due to lack of education in developed and underdeveloped countries, and high birth rates in underdeveloped countries.

      February 24, 2014 at 11:04 am |
  8. Austin

    Someone should just start a company named Christian rite oil co. And they can all hire bush for a broker and vote jeb in there.

    What a blessing that would be

    February 24, 2014 at 10:26 am |
  9. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Theology – the study of nothing useful...

    February 24, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • Doris

      Well, except for some, who research it to the point where they see all the holes and inconsistencies and realize it's just hooey.

      Bart Ehrman for instance.

      February 24, 2014 at 10:26 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        The religious would be better served with more psychiatrists... not theologians

        February 24, 2014 at 10:32 am |
        • Doris

          Oh I agree. I imagine these days Bart would rather be known as a NT scholar than a theologian.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:35 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything."

      – Robert Heinlein

      February 24, 2014 at 10:33 am |
    • Rynomite

      I find the study of theology very useful.

      For example, understanding primitive beliefs and then using those belief to bend others to your will? Is that not useful?

      Great way to get power, free work, and free money.

      And if you don't mind a partner of lesser intelligence, its a great way to get a virtual servant of a wife.

      February 24, 2014 at 10:53 am |
  10. Doris

    "Muslims at this moment who are blowing themselves up, convinced that they are agents of God’s will. There is absolutely nothing that Dr. Craig can s—can say against their behavior, in moral terms, apart from his own faith-based claim that they’re praying to the wrong God. If they had the right God, what they were doing would be good, on Divine Command theory.

    Now, I’m obviously not saying that all that Dr. Craig, or all religious people, are psychopaths and psychotics, but this to me is the true horror of religion. It allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions, what only lunatics could believe on their own." –Sam Harris

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWJfdRpHWuk&w=640&h=390]

    February 24, 2014 at 9:52 am |
    • ddeevviinn

      Speaking of "lunacy", the feeble attempt in the above quote to somehow equate the actions of a fringe radical segment who blow themselves, with that of the vast majority of those who practice Islam, is nonsensical. However, I tend not to follow the news very closely, so perhaps Muslims are blowing themselves up by the billions or maybe only millions, or maybe only hundreds of thousands or maybe tens of thousands, and I just haven't noticed.

      February 24, 2014 at 10:07 am |
      • ddeevviinn

        Oops, "blow themselves UP". Too funny, though not a freudian slip.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:09 am |
        • Austin

          People who blew themselves up pale in comparison to British and bush Christianity.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:14 am |
        • Austin

          Today idolatry in America is having a satanic impact on the gospel. Satan's goal is making Americans copy Hitler by enforcing war first instead of forgiveness and peace. This is a demonic psych op from the devil. The American church is guilty of ties with an evil agenda

          February 24, 2014 at 10:19 am |
        • Doris

          "bush Christianity." ??

          That must be what the fork-tongued Dr Andrew Snelling practices out in the outback among his other profitable ventures.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:22 am |
        • ausphor

          Doris
          Austin dreams of the next episode of Duck Dynasty so he knows what is coming up.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:43 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        "Speaking of "lunacy", the feeble attempt in the above quote to somehow equate the actions of a fringe radical segment who blow themselves, with that of the vast majority of those who practice Islam, is nonsensical."

        devin,

        Harris is not equating the actions of Christians and Muslims. He is addressing William Lane Craig's view of Divine Command Theory and equating that to the same concept used by suicide bombers in Islam. He is equating the theological justification for actions....not the actions themselves.

        February 24, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • hotairace

          Such subtleties, and I don't think it is very subtle, are easily overlooked when your brain is going a million miles per hour trying to rationalize the bigger problems of religion in general.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:54 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "Harris is not equating the actions of Christians and Muslims."

          Or Suicide bombers vs. other Muslims...sorry.

          Point being he is addressing Divine Command Theory and Objective Morality from god.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          No, he is obviously making a direct correlation between agents of God's will who are blowing themselves up and " It allows decent and sane people to believe by the billions, what only lunatics could believe on their own." Pretty straight forward implication, the referral to " Divine Command theory" is only ancillary to his point.

          February 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          He is referring to belief, not actions. The part that is missing in the above quote Doris posted is this.

          "If you say a few Latin words over your pancakes, and then say it is the flesh of Elvis, people may look at you like a lunatic.

          But, if you do the same thing over a cra.cker, and claim it is the flesh of Jesus, then, you are just a Catholic."

          which is then immediately followed by

          "Now, I’m obviously not saying that all that Dr. Craig, or all religious people, are psychopaths and psychotics, but this to me is the true horror of religion. It allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions, what only lunatics could believe on their own." –Sam Harris

          Thereby showing that regardless of the action, it is the belief that is absurd.

          February 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • Austin

      Why does Harris use such a scornful approach? Because he a slave.

      Yes. Faith is evidence and god is spirit. Better play on the field.

      February 24, 2014 at 10:34 am |
      • Doris

        When you see a child, who despite your previous warnings, plays too close to the fire, do you just continue to be sweet and ask nicely?

        February 24, 2014 at 10:39 am |
    • theophileo

      Sam Harris has absolutely NO CLUE what the Bible says about God. Which is why you posted that video, right?

      February 24, 2014 at 10:48 am |
      • Doris

        I think he's speaking more to the net effect, the results we see from all types of believers. So which brand are you? There are so many to choose from to fit one's needs.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:55 am |
      • dandintac

        Saying someone "has no clue" is not convincing as an argument if it's not accompanied by actual reasons, lines of evidence, etc.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    "All of us, not just religious people, are in danger of becoming rigid or comatose, inflexible or numb. All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about."

    Unquote.

    Fellowship is all what religion is all about??? And that says a Christian "theologian". Bonhoeffer was right when he said that the most corrupted people on earth would be theologians.

    Of course, it plays an important or crucial role that we have the right faith and doctrine. Fellowship is also important but only beneficial if we also have the right faith or doctrine and our fellows too.

    I agree with Mrs. Mercadante that we have become too materialistic. Life is more than circulating matter.

    I also agree that nobody likes the philistinism (confined by systems and structures) of many churches – today nearly all churches.

    Mrs. Mercadante as a Christian (Methodist) theologian should advertise for the faith in Jesus but she talkes like a sociologist.

    That is a very severe failure of her. As a theologian she would be obliged to defend the Christian faith.

    Our actual problem is the general apostasy of nearly all churches. The bad article of Mrs. Mercadante confirms my statement. People calling themselves Christians, don't pronounce the Christian doctrine but tell any nonsense – that is apocalyptic.

    We must find back to the complete gospel of Jesus Christ: Repentance, accepting the gospel as true, and getting sacramentally baptized in order to experience the releasing power of the gospel.

    No rebaptism!

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com (this is no commercial advertising but the pronouncing of the gospel of Jesus Christ)

    We don't need the fellowship of any people but of people really believing in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who can bring about real fellowship for he is fellowship in himself. Jesus is Life, Light, Truth, etc. True fellowship is possible in Jesus Christ, in Him. True fellowship is an extraordinary good, more precious than silver and gold.

    It is not possible to enjoy the fellowship of the Church and the fellowship of the world at the same time. We have to make up our mind. Moses was an Egyptian prince but he left that state of worldly pleasure, and joined God's people Israel, and suffered together with them. Moses prefered the fellowship of God's people against the pleasure of sin because he was looking at the eternal reward (eternal dwelling in God's City).

    February 24, 2014 at 9:44 am |
    • midwest rail

      "...this is no commercial advertising..."
      Indeed it is – since you are gaining something for which you have not paid. Nice try, though.

      February 24, 2014 at 10:01 am |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        My website is non-commercial. It only serves the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't generate any income through my website. I cannot imagine that CNN is not interested in the cost-free propagation of the Gospel too.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:07 am |
        • midwest rail

          It is irrelevant that you generate no income from your website. You are gaining a benefit for which you have not paid. You are stealing advertising. Do continue the tap dance, however, Gregory Hines would be impressed.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:10 am |
    • Austin

      The twelve tribes of Ishmael are spoken of favorably in the old testament. Kedar and nebaioth are brought into the millineal kingdom . Out of ten tribes there are only two verses that are negative and seven that show eternal or temporal brotherhood. Amen

      February 24, 2014 at 10:10 am |
      • Anthony Crispino

        Is that the part where he comes across this giant spider in a cave? My nephew Toolie was watching that with some friends, but they were so noisy I didn't know what was going on.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:50 am |
  12. theophileo

    So the author of the article is a professor of theology at a Methodist school?

    Then why does she say:

    "...they protest “rigid religion,” objecting to a certain brand of conservatism that insists there is only one way to express spirituality, faith, and the search for transcendence... So why, then, is it “good news” that there is a huge rise in the “spiritual but not religious”? Because their protests are the very same things that deeply concern – or should concern – all of us."

    Is she saying that those within Christendom should question whether there are "other paths to God?" Because IF that is what she is saying, then she is apostate.

    Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

    1 John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

    February 24, 2014 at 8:40 am |
    • Anthony Crispino

      "IF that is what she is saying, then she is apostate. "

      Are you sure – I think only men have those. I'll ask my wife's groin doctor, but I'm pretty sure.

      February 24, 2014 at 9:02 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Yep I agree,

      2 Chronicles 15:12-13 – "They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul. All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman."

      February 24, 2014 at 9:06 am |
      • theophileo

        Praise be to God that she is not living in Israel under that particular covenant, and then broke that covenant. We are under a new covenant now, a covenant of grace which no longer demands capital punishment for breaking it. Breaking this covenant with God does carry a severe penalty, but it is not capital punishment. But since you quoted that scripture, I'm sure that you knew that.

        February 24, 2014 at 9:15 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Matthew 5:17-19 – "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

          February 24, 2014 at 9:20 am |
        • eudaimonia2013

          So you believe your god changed his mind about killing people if they don't seek to worship him?

          February 24, 2014 at 9:21 am |
        • theophileo

          "So you believe your god changed his mind about killing people if they don't seek to worship him?"
          ---------
          Of course not... This was a covenant.
          You really need to take a course on Covenant Theology.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:25 am |
        • ausphor

          What severe penalty, pray tell?

          February 24, 2014 at 9:32 am |
        • joey3467

          I have always wanted to take a class on a completely made up subject. Perhaps Covenant Theology is what I have been looking for?

          February 24, 2014 at 9:32 am |
        • theophileo

          ausphor,
          The conditional of the covenant of grace is faith. If one has no faith, then God will by no means enter into this covenant with man. If you are not under the covenant of grace with God, then God will pour out wrath and vengence on this person at Revelation 20.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:39 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Here Joey,

          I will give you the long and short of it.

          "If a bible verse furthers the cause, it is to be taken literally. If a bible verse is detrimental to the cause, it is either: taken out of context; is allegorical; refers to another verse somewhere else; is an ancient cultural anomaly; is a translation or copyist's error; means something other than what it actually says; Is a mystery of god or not discernible by humans; or is just plain magic."

          February 24, 2014 at 9:40 am |
        • eudaimonia2013

          "Of course not... This was a covenant. You really need to take a course on Covenant Theology."

          Thank you for explaining what your god chose not to do himself. I suppose unless I'm already a believer I will need to pay a believer a nice sum of money in order and take a class in order to understand why a covenant that carries the penalty of death if this god is not worshipped is changed because, help me here (well of course unless god can speak for himself- I guess I have to ask those who have studied his word that he gave only once 2000 years ago to another culture), so after this covenant he came down and became a man in order to give people grace so he doesn't kill them if they don't worship him?

          February 24, 2014 at 9:45 am |
        • ausphor

          I wish you lot could get together. Got this poster saying god is pure complete love and you saying it will pour out wrath and vengence if I think the whole thing is nonsense and a scam. Way to have it both ways, what a joke you people are.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:48 am |
        • theophileo

          Here's what one of the 17th century puritans had to say about the covenant of grace.

          http://www.fivesolas.com/watson/covgrace.htm

          February 24, 2014 at 9:49 am |
        • joey3467

          Since god is unchanging does that mean that you don't have to kill unbelievers now, but god is cool with it if you do? Because if he is not cool with you killing unbelievers then he has changed his mind.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:49 am |
        • ausphor

          Got it god is love and you can be bathed in its grace if you only have faith and believe, if not the same god is an evil tyrant and will punish you beyond belief. Makes a lot of sense if you are delusional.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:08 am |
        • eudaimonia2013

          Ausphor,

          You just don't understand his god. For that you will need to consult with a believer whose studied his belief for decades and got a degree for it. Or, you can read the works of 17th century believers who gave their theory of god. This is not a primary source religion. God speaks only once in remote lands and has nothing to say to clarify except through anyone who claims belief. In order to save yourself from eternal punishment after you die, you must ask someone, who already believes- for whatever reason, their theories on the mental state of a god who spoke to a small social group 2000 years ago. Geez.. Not understanding why you don't feel the love..

          February 24, 2014 at 10:20 am |
        • ausphor

          eud....
          How much is your advice going to cost me in cold hard cash, things are tight right now? I could trying selling my soul again but last time I posted it on e-bay I got zero offers. I guess most people don't think souls exist or are worthless.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:34 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Not to mention why is she allow to be a Pastor in the frst place

      1 Timothy 2:11-12 – "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

      February 24, 2014 at 9:24 am |
      • theophileo

        Well, according to the Bible, women do not have the authority to be elders in the church, and Paul takes the reasoning back to Genesis. That does not lessen their value, but rather the Bible dictates what roles men and women have.

        However, this topic isn't about elders in a church. It is over whether or not the author believes the Bible when it speaks to the exclusivity of Jesus the Christ as the ONLY savior.

        February 24, 2014 at 9:28 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "It is over whether or not the author believes the Bible when it speaks to the exclusivity of Jesus the Christ as the ONLY savior."

          Exactly,

          "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

          February 24, 2014 at 9:34 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        1 Corinthians 14:33-35 – "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."

        February 24, 2014 at 9:38 am |
  13. joeyy1

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_F9nIps46w&w=640&h=390]

    February 24, 2014 at 8:35 am |
    • igaftr

      still the most boring song..why do you keep posting this garbage?

      February 24, 2014 at 8:45 am |
  14. Behati

    If SBNR is a new term coined, then it does not sound appealing.

    #1 Protest
    #2 Protest
    #3 Protest

    Looks like, all that the SBNR's do is protest. Is there is anything more to SBNR's other than protesting?

    Do they have an ident ity of their own?

    February 24, 2014 at 8:31 am |
    • Arthur

      The lady doth protest too much, methinks! What do you think? 😉

      February 24, 2014 at 8:46 am |
      • Arthur

        Also, she is not professing her faith in anything in particular. Does not sound like a "professor" but sounds more like a "protestor". 😉

        February 24, 2014 at 8:53 am |
  15. thefinisher1

    Atheism is immoral. It has no morals to offer. Nothing stopped atheist leaders from murdering over 100 million people. This proves atheism is evil and if you are atheist, you are evil. See how flawed the atheist argument is? Nobody today was alive during the Crusades. I'm not a part of the Muslim faith so I can't be held accountable for 9/11. I wasn't alive during the Spanish Inquisition. I wasn't alive when the Puritians slaughtered the Indians. I wasn't alive when witch burnings took place. Give it up atheists. Your delusional.

    February 24, 2014 at 7:55 am |
    • igaftr

      and you say you aren't a troll...pathetic.

      February 24, 2014 at 8:16 am |
      • thefinisher1

        How was that trolling? Explain yourself troll

        February 24, 2014 at 8:24 am |
        • ausphor

          Atheist Hunter
          The atheist leaders, as you call them , had followers that participated in crimes against humanity that were ordered by these tyrant leaders no doubt. Take Hitler and Mussolini in WWII, many victims of those just following orders. Do you in your little mind not find it strange how quickly Germany and Italy returned to their Christian roots once the tyrants were gone?

          February 24, 2014 at 8:39 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The German people never abandoned their "Christian roots", even at the height of the 3rd Reich's atrocities.

          "The fact that the Curia is now making its peace with Fascism shows that the Vatican trusts the new political realities far more than did the former liberal democracy with which it could not come to terms. ...The fact that the Catholic Church has come to an agreement with Fascist Italy ...proves beyond doubt that the Fascist world of ideas is closer to Christianity than those of Jewish liberalism or even atheistic Marxism..."
          – Adolf Hitler in an article in the Völkischer Beobachter, February 29, 1929, on the new Lateran Treaty between Mussolini's fascist government and the Vatican

          "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out".
          The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, Oxford University Press, 1942

          Hitler publically professed his Christianity until his dying day and used Christian arguments to whip his people into a frenzy. This is why Nazi uniform belt buckles were emblazoned with the slogan “Gott mit uns” (God is with us).

          February 24, 2014 at 8:57 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Wasn't talking about Hilter dumb troll. Stalin admitted he was an atheist and hated religion. He caused more deaths than Hilter😜

          February 24, 2014 at 9:01 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Actually, Stalin did not kill more people than Hitler.
          Because we now have access to detailed files that were inaccessible prior to the fall of the USSR, historians have much more accurate death tolls.
          Germans deliberately killed about 11 million noncombatants.
          Soviets during the Stalin period killed around 6 million.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:13 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Stalin killed around 20-30 million. I bet you get your sources from biased atheist websites who don't want the truth spoken. Your atheism had caused MILLIONS to die. You want me to admit religion is evil so admit your atheism is evil and toxic also. I know you won't. Your ego is too big.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:17 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,000
          Professed Religion: Maoism (autotheism)

          Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1939-1945) 12,000,000 (concentration camps and civilians deliberately killed in WWII plus 3 million Russian POWs left to die)
          Professed Religion: Catholic

          Leopold II of Belgium (Congo, 1886-1908) 8,000,000
          Professed Religion: Catholic

          Jozef Stalin (USSR, 1932-39) 7,000,000 (the gulags plus the purges plus Ukraine's famine)
          Professed Religion: None (atheist)

          Hideki Tojo (Ja.pan, 1941-44) 5,000,000 (civilians in WWII)
          Professed Religion: Shinto

          Ismail Enver (Ottoman Turkey, 1915-20) 1,200,000 Armenians (1915) + 350,000 Greek
          Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks (1916-22) + 500,000 Assyrians (1915-20)
          Professed Religion: Muslim

          February 24, 2014 at 9:30 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Which proves your atheism is more toxic than religion. Look at all the deaths your fellow brethren caused😜

          February 24, 2014 at 9:38 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          You may want to check your math again.
          Over 26 million killed by religionists.
          7 million for the only atheist on the list.
          The largest death toll goes to the autotheist who made himself a god and object of worship.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:50 am |
        • SeaVik

          Nice job Doc, that seems to have shut him up.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:50 am |
        • thefinisher1

          How can Hitler be Catholic when he hated Jews but Christ himself was a Jew? Wouldn't he also hate Christ? Do you believe all the lies every criminal says or just the ones that insults a non-violent person? His own actions prove he wasn't Catholic but be my guest, believe he was a "true Christian". Wanna know something you'll deny? His own country supported him for many reasons BUT they were left out in the dark on what was really going on. Do you really think the curiosity to experiment on children, men, and women was caused by religion? NOPE! It was already present before Hitler took power. You can say Hilter was a Christian all you want but actions speak louder than words. Of course you'll end up denying anything that disproves he wasn't but go ahead, be a dumb troll.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:00 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "How can Hitler be Catholic"

          Now if that isn't one of the most ignorant questions ever. That's like asking how someone can be Muslim but not believe in being a suicide bomber.
          He was raised Catholic and identified as one, therefore he was.

          February 24, 2014 at 10:11 am |
        • thefinisher1

          So you believe a criminal? Yet his own •actions• PROVES he wasn't. If he hated Jews he hated Christ therefor he can't be a Catholic. You can't be racist against your own savior if you identify yourself as a Catholic. Are you seriously this dumb troll?

          February 24, 2014 at 10:15 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Hitler's professed religion was Catholicism.
          You're trying to play the "no true scotsman" card.
          Hitler used Christian arguments to foment anti-semitism amongst the overwhelmingly Christian German populace.

          "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. ...Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross."
          – Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922

          "By its decision to carry out the political and moral cleansing of our public life, the Government is creating and securing the conditions for a really deep and inner religious life. The advantages for the individual which may be derived from compromises with atheistic organizations do not compare in any way with the consequences which are visible in the destruction of our common religious and ethical values. The national Government sees in Christian denominations the most important factor for the maintenance of our society. ... "
          – Adolf Hitler, speech before the Reichstag, March 23, 1933, just before the Enabling Act is passed.

          "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."
          – Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941

          Was Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer and author of "On the Jews and Their Lies", a Christian?

          February 24, 2014 at 10:20 am |
        • igaftr

          Also, Hitler was not atheistic in the slightest, actually hated and hunted them. Many were put to death in the death camps.

          Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction
          without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith
          ...we need believing people.

          – Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933, speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant

          We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement,
          and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.

          – Adolf Hitler, Speech in Berlin, October 24, 1933

          "In Freethinkers Hall, which before the Nazi resurgence was the national headquarters of the German Freethinkers League,
          the Berlin Protestant church authorities have opened a bureau for advice to the public in church matters. Its chief object is to
          win back former churchgoers and assist those who have not previously belonged to any religious congregation in obtaining
          church membership. The German Freethinkers League, which was swept away by the national revolution, was the largest of such
          organizations in Germany. It had about 500,000 members..."

          – The New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 2, on Hitler's outlawing atheistic and freethinking groups in the Spring of 1933,
          after the Enabling Act authorizing Hitler to rule by decree

          Clearly did not believe atheists could have morals...see any resemblance to finisher1?

          February 24, 2014 at 11:41 am |
      • igaftr

        just on this one page alone.

        thefinisher1
        "This proves atheism is evil and if you are atheist, you are
        Your delusional. ( of course you're is misspelled)
        dumb troll
        be a dumb troll
        In atheism, you have no "morals
        Are you seriously this dumb troll?

        And this guy actually asks why he is referred to as a troll. The very definition of trolling.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      While you personally may not be responsible, it cannot be denied that there are currently terrorist groups that identify as Christian.
      The Manmasi National Christian Army and the National Liberation Front of Tripura are known to force Hindus to convert to Christianity at gunpoint, going so far in their hatred of heretics as to encourage the murder of HIndu children.
      Closer to home, there's the Army of God and other groups who kill doctors.
      There are violent, white supremacist groups like the Aryan Nations, The Aryan Republican Army, The Phineas Priesthood, and The Covenant The Sword and The Arm of the Lord.
      This does not mean that Christianity is inherently evil or that all Christians are terrorists, but it does dispel the idea that Christians are somehow more moral than other religionists or the irreligious.

      The Journal of Religion & Society published a study on religious belief and social well-being, comparing 18 prosperous democracies from the U.S. to New Zealand.
      #1 on the list in both atheism and good behaviour is Ja.pan. It is one of the least crime-prone countries in the world. It also has the lowest rates of teenage pregnancy of any developed nation. Over eighty percent of the population accept evolution.
      Last on the list is the U.S. It has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and homicide rates are at least five times greater than in Europe and ten times higher than in Ja.pan.
      Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries - Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands - all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious.

      Again, this says nothing about the inherent ethical superiority of secularism, but it does dispel the myth that the irreligious are somehow less moral than those with a religion.

      February 24, 2014 at 8:19 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Keep your fundie secular religion out of our govt, public place, and schools.

        February 24, 2014 at 9:23 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          What an eloquent and well reasoned refutation.
          On par with "neener neener neener, you're a poopy face jerk".

          February 24, 2014 at 9:33 am |
    • kudlak

      thefinisher1
      You may not be any of the religious types who have killed, or terrorized, but I'm not a communist dictator either.

      Atheism has no moral pronouncements to offer, like religions do. Moral pronouncements are not moral systems, as they do not teach people how to determine what is actually moral. All it teaches people is to follow orders least they upset the supernatural forces that supposedly rule over the universe. That has nothing to say about whether one's actions are actually moral.

      February 24, 2014 at 8:24 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Fundie evolutionism supports murder, war etc. In atheism, you have no "morals".

        February 24, 2014 at 9:11 am |
        • QuestionsEverything

          Considering that secular denotes that which has no religious or spiritual basis, secularism cannot be a religion.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:34 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Secularism is a religion. Notice the "ism"😜

          February 24, 2014 at 9:44 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Does that mean that albinism is a religion?
          Maybe their worship melanin....

          February 24, 2014 at 9:55 am |
        • kudlak

          thefinisher1
          Like I said, no moral pronouncements like religion has. Tell me, if God (or, more likely, someone claiming to speak for God, or your understanding of what he supposedly said changed) said tomorrow that murdering certain individuals was OK, would that suddenly make that morally acceptable? If he can supposedly changing his mind towards more liberal views that not all witches really ought to be burned, and that stoning adulterers isn't the way to go anymore, he can certainly change his mind again in response to a rightward swing of the social pendulum, right?

          Given the right conditions (or wrong ones, depending on your point of view), God could be seen as condoning acts so barbarous as to make even the ancient Israelites cringe, and that would be saying something. What would you do then? Would you blindly follow this new "improved understanding" of the nature of God, or will you use the same innate morality that you used to judge that God is the good guy compared to Satan? You couldn't use God's standards to judge his own character in any fair and reasonable way, no could you?

          So, if you had the ability to judge God as a good guy before accepting what the Bible has to say about his always being good, then you had morals before the Bible taught you that nobody without a belief that God is the source of morals has any morals. See the problem with your claim here?

          February 24, 2014 at 10:18 am |
        • kudlak

          Doc Vestibule
          Wouldn't melanin be the satanic figure to a elitist group lacking it?

          February 24, 2014 at 10:22 am |
      • QuestionsEverything

        -ism does not mean a word is a religion or else consumerism, commercialism would be religions, as well is medievalism, pointillism and voluntarism.

        February 24, 2014 at 10:18 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Did you lose the website I listed for you? You know the one that helps you find the meanings of words??

      February 24, 2014 at 9:25 am |
  16. ohionick

    This is a very personal (and some say private) journey. We are all on a path, whether we understand or know it, or not. It is not my belief to contradict anyone else in their belief system. What is important for me may not be on the radar screen for anyone else.
    Spiritualism and formal religion can be linked due to how each came about. One can choose Jesus, Buddah, Mohammed, or any one of the Jewish prophets as their "teacher". Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God in the flesh. He never really claimed that, but through interpretations and extrapolations we have understood that he was/is the Son of God. (Of course, no matter who you are, you are a son or daughter of God.) In the Kuran, Jesus is mentioned numerous times and revered as an incredible person who should be respected and believed.
    One manner or aspect of "Spiritualism" is ACIM, or A Course in Miracles. A "miracle" here is not a physical manifestation of power, but one of attaining peace, love and forgiveness. It is the process of accepting every good or bad thing which may occur to us as individuals as the same. Cursing at someone for cutting you off in traffic on the highway is the same as killing someone... and it needs to be forgiven. It is a difficult concept to learn and live, but Jesus was a master at this and preached that we may all recognize this and learn to be like him. Asking him for guidance to leave the Ego behind and trust in the Spiritual side of reality is what it is all about... to me.
    One closing remark. God is pure, complete love. We all strive to be rid of our physical shackles and have our Spiritual side be at one and at peace with God. So, if God is pure love, why do religions continue to embrace the hatred and vitriol espoused by many modern-day religious figures? God should not be feared, as it is difficult to comprehend fearing love. So, if you truly love God, you will love yourself, those who are your friends, those who raise their fists and arms and guns at you, and then turn that other cheek and know no fear or hatred. It is not an easy path nor easy to comprehend. However, one does have to start somewhere. Life is nothing but practice, practice, practice. Enjoy it and strive for complete peace, love and forgiveness.

    February 24, 2014 at 7:50 am |
    • ausphor

      God is pure complete love. Which god would that be? Most of the stories we have created about the gods make them out to be murdering, vindictive tyrants. Did you not read any of the religious tomes, if so how could you possibly reach your conclusion?

      February 24, 2014 at 8:18 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Bible explicitly says to fear God.
      " The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction."
      – Proverbs 1

      "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."
      – Ecclesiates 12:13

      "The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."
      – Proverbs 14:27

      "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant."
      – Psalms 24:15

      "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
      – Job 28:28

      "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king."
      – 1 Peter 2:17

      "That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever."
      – Joshua 4:24

      February 24, 2014 at 8:29 am |
    • igaftr

      "God is pure, complete love"

      God is whatever you imagine it/him/her to be.
      That is why there are so many of them.

      February 24, 2014 at 8:53 am |
    • eudaimonia2013

      Ohionick,

      "God should not be feared, as it is difficult to comprehend fearing love"

      What is your interpretation of the writings in the bible requiring people to fear the Lord?

      "Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God in the flesh. He never really claimed that, but through interpretations and extrapolations we have understood that he was/is the Son of God"

      What would be the purpose of not claiming such a ti.tle in one's "human" lifetime but demanding obeisance with grave punishments if one does not believe it to be true once he dies?

      " It is a difficult concept to learn and live, but Jesus was a master at this and preached that we may all recognize this and learn to be like him."

      So his remedy to helping others learn this difficult concept is to live among a handful of people- wow them, have no one write anything down about it until at least several DECADES after his death and then from then on judge people for not learning this concept? You think this is someone we should follow? Don't you really mean we should follow the principle as told and understood through the memory and filter of small tribes hundreds of years ago?

      February 24, 2014 at 10:53 am |
  17. AnnieCee

    I would have a very hard time relating to the SBNR's because I don't think they're actually interested in learning anything. The ones I've talked with want their spirituality to be convenient. They don't read the Bible and are not interested in it. They aren't interested in learning about Jesus Christ. I would really like to meet some SBNR's who had a serious interest in spiritual things, but I think they just want to fluff along the cloud-tops and feel like they're good people. And most of them really ARE good people, I'll give them that much. But I think they're fooling themselves if they think they're truly spiritual.

    February 24, 2014 at 5:11 am |
    • sam stone

      What makes you the judge of what is "truly spiritual"?

      February 24, 2014 at 5:43 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      You do know that christians are not the only ones in this world...right? Why play the holier than thou card when your own book of stories is immoral and your imaginary friend (aka god) can't be shown with evidence to exist? I'm guessing you haven't actually read the book either or you wouldn't be christian. The bible is merely one more holy book written by man to hook the gullible and place fear amongst them.

      February 24, 2014 at 6:38 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Atheist leaders killed over 100 million of their own people not too long ago. Who is more immoral now? I think atheism is more immoral. Atheism has no morals to offer.

        February 24, 2014 at 7:39 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Geez, have they not been around with your morning meds yet?

          February 24, 2014 at 8:30 am |
  18. dandintac

    ON ATHEISM AND HUMANISM

    This seems like a good Blog to explain atheism and Humanism (at least what MY Humanism entails). This blog is about “Spiritual but Not Religious”. While I would not describe myself as “spiritual” since I do not believe in disembodied spirits or any kind of spirit realm, this does not mean that I do not have a life philosophy.

    Theists will sometimes say that “…you’re an atheist–that means you don’t believe in ANYTHING!” (Also said with a loud sneering emphasis on the word “anything”.) This is simply not true, and I find it’s just another ugly stereotype–intended to make us out to be close-minded, cold, calculating robots.

    “Okay dandintac, so what DO you believe?” I can almost hear you ask.

    I have asked myself that question. My philosophy for life is called Humanism. It’s what I use to help guide me through life, make moral decisions, how to think of others, my place in this world, meaning, purpose and so on.

    Atheism is definitely not a religion–I don’t care how vociferously it is claimed as such by some Christians. It is a single answer to a single question–”no” with regards to the question regarding the existence of gods. So it is ridiculous to label it a religion. Humanism on the other hand, is far more complex. In some ways, it does resemble a religion–or at least as much probably as say, Taoism or Confuciansim. But there are no supernatural elements, so it is certainly not a religion in the tradition of the religions of Abraham. I see it as a “philosophy for life.” No worship is required.

    The only real doctrines are philosophical naturalism and that people should think for themselves. My Humanism is the secular sort, but there are many branches and “flavors” of Humanism. This diversity is no problem–such diversity can be found in Christianity and many other religions or life philosophies such as philosophical Buddhism or Taoism.

    The Council for Secular Humanism has laid out the following principles:

    Need to test beliefs – A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted by faith.
    Reason, evidence, scientific method – A commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence and scientific method of inquiry in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.
    Fulfillment, growth, creativity – A primary concern with fulfillment, growth and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
    Search for truth – A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
    This life – A concern for this life (as opposed to an afterlife) and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
    Ethics – A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
    Justice and fairness – an interest in securing justice and fairness in society and in eliminating discrimination and intolerance.
    Building a better world – A conviction that with reason, an open exchange of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.

    February 24, 2014 at 2:16 am |
  19. dandintac

    As an atheist/humanist, I have no problem with SBNRs at all. True–a lot of it is indeed hokum, Deepak Chopra type stuff, but it is far, far better than being a Bible believing Christian or Koran believing Muslim.

    I started out as a partially indoctrinated Christian and believed the Bible was largely true until the late teens, when I actually read it–all of it–without someone telling me what to think about various cherry-picked passages. I still called myself a Christian for a number of years, but I gradually became someone who "just believed in God" without specifically identifying myself as a Christian. Then later I studied up on other religions and spiritual ideas–moving through a range of spiritual notions, and for a long time thought of myself as SBNR also, then I realized I was agnostic. Then years later I realized I was really an atheist, and unless some sort of hard evidence is forthcoming, I don't really believe in other supernatural ideas.

    So I see SBNR as a stage. I think a lot of SBNRs are on the path to atheism and/or Humanism, and that's the right path. I find SBNRs are more likely to be open to reality, less dogmatic, less pushy, than Christians or Muslims. There seems to be a lack of clarity regarding the beliefs of SBNRs, as well as a lack of cohesion and conviction. That is a good thing. You won't find them knocking on your door, or demanding the congress enact laws based on their "spiritualism", and so on. You'll rarely find them claiming that they KNOW The Truth. And therefore if you don't believe the same way your are not only wrong but immoral as well.

    So SBNRs–more power to you! Keep on seeking. I hope you find what you are looking for. But don't forget–if you assert any supernatural ideas, and insist that they are real for all of us, don't be surprised if I demand evidence and criticize these ideas if evidence is not forthcoming or is insufficient.

    Thanks

    February 24, 2014 at 1:33 am |
    • ddeevviinn

      " but it is far, far better than being a bible believing chrisitan."

      Yes, of course it is. Those christians are truly a dev iant lot in their attempt at simply living a peaceful life while attempting to love their neighbors and their enemies. The fact that in the name of Jesus Christ these same christians have built countless numbers of hospitals, cared for the sick, fed the poor, given homes to orphans. etc.... on a larger scale than any other segment of the population, only goes to show the severity of their malc ontent.

      February 24, 2014 at 2:15 am |
      • dandintac

        Devin,

        Sorry you feel dissed, that was not necessarily my intent, but this is how I feel, and I'll lay out the reasons why I feel the western monotheistic religions are bad if you wish.

        Regarding the hospitals, feeding the poor and so on, I would say these are HUMAN accomplishments, not necessarily Christian ones. Every culture around the world has built hospitals, cared for the poor, and so on. Please don't pretend these are exclusively Christian–they are what HUMANS do.

        Furthermore, these activities are not evidence that a religion is true. The Muslims claim these things of their religion as well. If it were found they do it more, would this validate their religion and call yours into question?

        Thanks for the response though, and I hope you have a good night.

        February 24, 2014 at 2:26 am |
        • ddeevviinn

          No dissed feelings. Jesus calls me to be his disciple, not a Casper Milktoast. If I perceive a comment to be disingenuous I will respond accordingly, not in an effort to cause discord but to right a wrong.

          I really don't think there was any attempt at pretending such acts are exclusive to christians. I didn't say or imply that. What I did say was that throughout history christians have been at the forefront of philanthropy and meeting the needs of those in des pair. And while I do agree that these are human acts, I also believe that these human acts can be generated and produced due to belief.

          As far as validation and the example of the Muslims, it is purely hypothetical. It is common factual knowledge that christianity has done significantly more than Islam or any other world religion ( this is not a knock on other religions) in terms of humanitarian giving. Sometimes, the proof of the pudding really is in the eating.

          Well, off to bed. You have a good night also.

          February 24, 2014 at 2:46 am |
  20. sanjosemike

    I really don't understand this article. It makes no sense. "Spirituality" seems to refer to some "spirit." There are no indications that spirits exist or ever did. I think that the article tries to be poetic, but fails utterly. There are a lot of words printed, but they make no sense. This post is also long enough. So it now ends.

    sanjosemike

    February 24, 2014 at 1:21 am |
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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.