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August 22nd, 2014
07:00 AM ET

Why liberals are more tolerant of atheists

Opinion by Chris Stedman, special to CNN

(CNN) Conservative atheist and television pundit S.E. Cupp has come out swinging against progressive atheists.

In a clip (see above) for CNN’s “Crossfire,” she argues that conservative atheists are “better” than liberal nonbelievers. What’s more, Cupp says, those on the right respect and tolerate atheists more than liberals do.

She’s wrong, and here are three reasons why.

Fact: Atheists are still political outcasts.

“It seems like there’s this idea perpetuated by atheists that atheists are somehow disenfranchised or left out of the political process,” Cupp says. “I just don’t find that to be the case.”

Survey data contradict Cupp.

For instance, a 2014 Pew Research study found that Americans are less likely to vote for an atheist presidential candidate than any other survey category—even if they share that candidate’s political views.

Faring better than atheists: candidates who have engaged in extramarital affairs and those with zero political experience.

And unless she recently had a change of heart, Cupp herself falls in line with the majority of Americans. In 2012 she said, “I would never vote for an atheist president. Ever.”

While atheists are making political inroads, we’re also still on the margins in a number of ways. Cupp concludes the clip by saying, “I think our atheists are better than yours.”

Apparently they’re still not good enough to be president.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Culture wars • Discrimination • Nones • Opinion • Politics • Prejudice

All in the family? Not for atheists
Marrying an atheist can lead to family problems, a new survey says.
June 24th, 2014
08:03 AM ET

All in the family? Not for atheists

By Sara Grossman, CNN

(CNN) When Americans think of their future in-laws, they approve of nearly every type of person - except for atheists.

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center aimed to examine political polarization. It asked Americans whether they would be disappointed if a close family member married someone of a different race, country, political party or someone who doesn't believe in God.

Less than 20% of Americans said they would be unhappy if a close family member married someone from the opposite political party and only 11% said they would be upset if that person was of a different race.

But 49% of Americans said they would be disappointed if their family member married an atheist, making nonbelievers by far the most stigmatized group in the survey.

Conservatives overwhelmingly held reservations about secular Americans, with 73% saying they would be less than thrilled if a family member tied the knot with a nonbeliever.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Discrimination • Prejudice

Famous atheists and their beliefs
June 10th, 2014
02:40 PM ET

Meet the atheist ... who believes in God

Opinion by Frank Schaeffer, special to CNN

(CNN) - All the public debates between celebrity atheists and evangelical pastors are as meaningless as literary awards and Oscar night.

They are meaningless because participants lack the objectivity to admit that our beliefs have less to do with facts than with our personal needs and cultural backgrounds.

The words we use to label ourselves are just as empty.

What exactly is a “believer?” And for that matter what is an “atheist?” Who is the objective observer to define these terms?

Maybe we need a new category other than theism, atheism or agnosticism that takes paradox and unknowing into account.

Take me, I am an atheist who believes in God.

Let me explain.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Culture & Science • Faith • God • Nones • Opinion

May 24th, 2014
06:00 PM ET

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

Raleigh, North Carolina (CNN) – Back home, they erase their Internet histories, look over their shoulders before cracking jokes and nod politely when co-workers talk about church.

But in a hotel ballroom here on a recent weekend, more than 220 atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers let it all hang out.

The convention was called “Freedom From Religion in the Bible Belt,” and it was part celebration of skepticism and part strategy session about surviving in the country’s most religious region.

They sang songs about the futility of faith, shared stories about “coming out” as nonbelievers and bought books about the Bible – critical ones, of course.

“Isn’t it great to be in a room where you can say whatever you want to whomever you want without fear of anyone criticizing you for being unorthodox?” asked Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, as he opened the two-day convention.

The Wisconsin-based foundation co-sponsored the event with the Triangle Freethought Society, which draws its members from this state’s tech-heavy Research Triangle.

The nonbelievers came from as far afield as Ireland and France, but most described themselves as refugees from the heart of the South - atheist anomalies amid fiercely devout friends, family and neighbors.

We wanted to know what it’s like to be a nonbeliever in the Bible Belt, so over the course of the weekend we asked some of the folks here to share their secrets.

They had a lot to say, and some of their advice overlapped, but we came away with eight top tips. Some said they wished they’d had something like this list when they began their foray into religious infidelity.

So, without further ado, here’s a “survival guide” to being an atheist in the Bible Belt:

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Black issues • Church and state • Culture wars • Discrimination • Internet • Lost faith • Nones • North Carolina • Prejudice • Religious liberty

Study: Young Latinos losing faith
Jose Luis Sedano prays during Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles last March.
May 7th, 2014
11:58 AM ET

Study: Young Latinos losing faith

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - Young Latinos are leaving the Catholic Church in droves, according to a new study, with many drifting into the country's fastest-growing religious movement: the nones.

Nearly a third of Latino adults under 30 don't belong to a faith group, according to a large survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.  That's a leap of 17 percentage points in just the last three years.

While the demise of organized religion, specifically Catholicism, is most dramatic among young Latinos, the overall shifts are broad-based, according to Pew, affecting men and women; foreign-born and U.S. natives; college graduates and those with less formal education.

The trends highlighted by Pew's Latino survey also mirror large-scale shifts in the American population as whole.

According to other studies conducted by Pew in recent years, nearly a third of all millennials - Americans between the ages of 18-33 - are religiously unaffiliated, a dramatic and ongoing change from previous generations.

“One of the most striking recent trends in the American religious landscape has been the growing share of the unaffiliated, and this study allows us to see where Latinos fit into that story,” said Cary Funk, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center and one of the co-authors of the study.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • evangelicals • Faith • Latino issues • Lost faith • Nones • Polls • Protestant • Trends

Why Vermont is not Godless
Only 22% of Vermonters polled called themselves "very religious." But Jay Parini says many in his state are still spiritual seekers.
March 19th, 2014
08:31 AM ET

Why Vermont is not Godless

Editor's note: Jay Parini, a poet and novelist, teaches at Middlebury College. He has just published "Jesus: the Human Face of God," a biography of Jesus.

(CNN) - Once again a new Gallup Poll has reported that Vermont is the least religious state in the country, with only 22% of the people willing to call themselves "very religious." On the other side of the poll, there is Mississippi, where a whopping 61% of citizens lay claim to that self-description. But what does it really mean to be "very religious" and not just spiritual?

I've been living in Vermont for much of my adult life, adding up to nearly four decades. And I've been keenly interested in the question of religion, having written a biography of Jesus and practiced Christianity as best I can for much of my life. I've also traveled in the South quite often, and understand where that 61% comes from: Not long ago I drove across Mississippi, and I couldn't find a secular radio station on the dial. It was all preachers, all sounding alike. Repent, repent, repent. Billboards everywhere shouted religious slogans. It seemed there was a church on every street corner in every town I passed through.

So what's going on here? Do Mississippians have a direct line to the divine? Don't the majority of people of Vermont also have an interest in religion or belief in God? Is this why Vermont was the first state in the union to allow for civil unions? And does secularism run rampant here?

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Opinion • United States

CPAC reverses decision, will not allow atheist group at conservative conference
David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, will not have a booth at CPAC.
February 25th, 2014
02:53 PM ET

CPAC reverses decision, will not allow atheist group at conservative conference

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington - Organizers for the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference will not allow American Atheists to have an exhibition booth at the conservative conference, the group's spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The decision comes just hours after American Atheists, the outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, announced that it would have a booth at the event. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, tells CNN that a groundswell of opposition from high-ranking members of CPAC compelled the group to pull the invite.

Meghan Snyder, a spokeswoman for CPAC, said in a statement to CNN that “American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government.”

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

Atheists plan conservative outreach with booth at CPAC
The Reason Rally, sponsored by American Atheists and other secular organizations, draws a crowd to the National Mall in March 2012.
February 25th, 2014
06:00 AM ET

Atheists plan conservative outreach with booth at CPAC

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - American Atheists, an outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, will have a booth at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference.

The atheist institution, which is well known for its controversial billboards and media campaigns, informed CNN of its inclusion on Monday night, and a representative from CPAC confirmed that the group will have a booth at the annual national gathering of conservative leaders and activists in March. American Atheists hopes to use the forum to tap into the conservative movement and bring conservative atheists “out of the closet.”

“Just as there are many closeted atheists in the church pews, I am extremely confident that there are many closeted atheists in the ranks of conservatives," said David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

Silverman said coming to CPAC will be “the first step of many” in reaching out to Republicans.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

February 10th, 2014
06:13 PM ET

Deaf pastor signs a mighty surprising message

Opinion by Justin Vollmar, special to CNN

(CNN) – When I was 18, I was drawn to a strict Christian sect known as Independent Fundamental Baptists. They convinced me that they were the only true church and I became a born-again, washed-in-blood Christian.

I left Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier school for deaf students, to enroll at Capital Baptist Deaf College, where I graduated with an unaccredited bachelor's degree in pastoral studies.

For the next seven years, I was a pastor in Silver Spring, Maryland, working 60 hours a week for little pay. My senior pastor was a harsh taskmaster, scolding me and always pushing me to work harder. Meanwhile, he earned $80,000 a year and played golf two times a week. I lived in poverty and did not see my children much. I got burned out.

I resigned my position and was shunned by the church. My faith in God was severely shaken. I started to have doubts about the Bible’s claims. I questioned whether God’s love, which is supposed to reside inside Christians, was real.

Still, I didn’t quit the church.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Journeys • Lost faith • Opinion

Sports stars you didn't know were religious
January 31st, 2014
05:49 PM ET

For some fans, Super Bowl has supernatural twists

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Before he watches his beloved Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl this Sunday, Kyle Herman has some important rituals to perform.

Just as he has for years, in the morning he will pick out the Broncos jersey to wear for the game. He will slip on his high-school ring, refashioned in Broncos blue and orange, and surround his television with team paraphernalia, from signed footballs to a pillow.

Herman has several Broncos jerseys, and if a certain player is stinking up the field, the 21-year-old from Beaver Falls, Wisconsin, will put on that player's jersey. You know, to give them a little more mojo.

“I don’t know why,” he says with a loud laugh, “but I feel like it really works for some reason.”

Herman may think his rituals are silly, but he’s far from alone in his sports superstitions.

According to a poll released in January by the Public Religion Research Institute, about half of all Americans believe that some element of the supernatural plays a role in sporting events.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Entertainment • Polls • Prayer • Sports

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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.

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