June 4th, 2013
03:08 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – Who can people call when religious doubts arise, but they're afraid to talk to their faith leaders or families?
A group that helps people "recover" from religion says it's ready to pick up the phone.
Recovering from Religion, which has about 40 support groups in the U.S. and Britain, plans to launch a hotline that will offer doubters an anonymous place to ask difficult questions and find communities of like-minded nonbelievers.
The group plans to staff the help line 24 hours a day and is modeling it after services like suicide prevention hotlines.
Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering from Religion, told CNN that the mission is to help people, not convert them to atheism.
“A lot of the times they just need someone to talk to," Morehead said.
May 29th, 2013
03:06 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.
"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."
According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.
May 24th, 2013
04:46 PM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) - Just days after she announced to the world from tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, that she is an atheist, it looks like Rebecca Vitsmun has found salvation.
Not from the Lord, mind you, but from other atheists and friends of atheists.
An Indiegogo campaign titled “Atheists Unite,” launched late Thursday by stand-up comic Doug Stanhope, is raking in dollars to help her family rebuild. Less than 17 hours after going live, it met its 60-day goal of $50,000. A little more than an hour later, as we prepared to publish, donations were at $55,000 - and growing.
“Holy @#!%!” Stanhope said, by way of hello when he answered his phone Friday morning.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.
May 22nd, 2013
06:20 PM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) – Behind her were ruins, a tangled mess where structures once stood. Cradled in her arms, the mother’s 19-month-old son played with a snatched microphone, unfazed by the chaos swirling around him. And in front of Rebecca Vitsmun stood CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who – after asking her about the decision that saved her and her son's lives – had one more question:
“I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she mumbled, smiling and looking down.
“Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?” he continued.
“I, I, I,” the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom stammered before adding, “I’m actually an atheist.” FULL POST
April 29th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
(CNN) – Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins discuss religion in the modern world and debate science in their new film.
April 18th, 2013
10:45 AM ET
Editor’s note: Greg M. Epstein is the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of the New York Times best-seller "Good Without God." He directs the Humanist Community Project, a national think tank helping to study and build communities for the nonreligious.
By Greg M. Epstein, Special to CNN
Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) — After two days of holding back my own feelings to focus on the needs of a community in mourning, what finally split my heart in two was scrolling through the list of donations to the fund-raising page for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother and daughter among the tragically injured at the Boston Marathon.
Celeste, the mother, has volunteered for my congregation. She’s basically an aunt to a senior member of our staff. So I cried for the two-sidedness: A member of our community lost her legs below the knees, and nearly lost her daughter. And, in one day, nearly 4,000 people donated more than $250,000 to support them. They seemed to be saying, through their gifts, “Please do this for me too if anything should ever happen to me or my family.”
As a chaplain, I’m struggling to make sense of this tragedy just like any other member of the clergy. And like faith communities across the country, the thousands of people I work with are doing what needs to be done when tragedy strikes close to home. We’re offering one another comfort. We’re calling around to the point of exhaustion, trying to figure out who needs help and how we can provide it.
The only difference is, we are a community of atheists — a congregation of Humanists. FULL POST
April 12th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
By Kelly Murray, CNN
Editor's note: The Science Seat is a feature in which our sister blog CNN Light Years sits down with movers and shakers from different areas of scientific exploration. This is the eighth installment.
De Waal recently published a book called "The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates," which synthesizes evidence that there are biological roots in human fairness, and explores what that means for the role of religion in human societies.FULL STORY
March 23rd, 2013
10:00 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – Todd Stiefel is far from a household name, and the odds he gets recognized on a street corner, even in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, are small.
For Stiefel, a slim, scruffy ex-Catholic, his public persona is his wallet and activism. Through the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the 38-year-old has made an indelible impact on the nation’s fastest-growing “religious” group: the nonbelievers. Most of the highest-profile atheists campaigns –- flashy billboards in high-traffic areas, news-making efforts to get atheists to come out of the closet, and boisterous rallies - are funded by his fortune.
Stiefel isn’t shy about his far-reaching goals.
“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”
So far, Stiefel has pumped $3.5 million into those aspirations, and his money benefits a number of atheist organizations, from the Clergy Project, a group that helps atheist and doubting clergy out of the closet, to American Atheists, arguably the most in-your-face atheist group in the country.
March 9th, 2013
08:49 AM ET
By Josh Rubin, CNN
Austin, Texas (CNN)– As the Catholic world focuses on Rome and awaits a new pope, the secular world has turned its attention to Austin, Texas, for the annual pilgrimage of tech and music.
This weekend marks the start of the 20th annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival, an event with the goal of “fostering creative and professional growth.” For five days, some of the world’s brightest minds will commune, collaborate and experiment.
With its live music, free-flowing alcohol, and hook-up culture, SXSW has developed a reputation as being a spring break for nerds. There’s even an app by Qpid.me that lets attendees share medical records to prove their STD-free status.
But there is more to it than pure bacchanalia.
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.