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Cuba's evangelical churches
February 6th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

As Cuban economy sputters, evangelicals rise

By Shasta Darlington, CNN

Havana (CNN) – For decades, Cuba’s evangelicals met behind closed doors, holding services in living rooms and converted garages.

But as the country confronts hard times, followers have come out of the shadows, turning to religion to meet both economic and spiritual needs.

On a recent Sunday morning, worshipers packed a Pentecostal church set up on the second floor of an apartment building in a working class suburb of Havana.

They swayed back and forth to the raucous music amid shouts of “amen!” and “hallelujah!”

The Rev. Marcial Miguel Hernandez is the church’s pastor and the president of Cuba's National Council of Churches.

“The crisis is an opportunity for faith,” he told CNN. "Crisis is God's opportunity for the church to show its solidarity and love for our neighbor.”

Faced with a mounting budget deficit, Cuban President Raul Castro announced last year that the state needs to eliminate more than one million jobs, or about one-tenth of the workforce.

He also gave the green light for more private businesses, in an effort to help hire the unemployed.

But many people are also looking to God for help to fill the void.

“You can't be romantic about the situation,” Hernandez said. “There are going to be a million people, maybe more, who will be unemployed. The church is getting ready for this.”

He said attendance at evangelical churches had jumped in recent months.

Rita Suarez, a television worker who frequents Hernandez’s Free Evangelical Church, said many people were seeking spiritual guidance.

“When we have faith, we find the strength to make things work in this new scenario,” she said.

Maria Elisa Ramon found financial support from the church when the government granted her a license to open a private restaurant in her home.

“My pastor has been a big help,” she said. “He lent me money and encouraged me when I wanted to give up. He told me God was on my side.”

After decades of hostility, Fidel Castro began to mend relations with the country's many churches in the 1980s, as churches showed their willingness to work with the state. That process accelerated after the fall of the Soviet Union, as the Cuban government searched for new allies.

The government's efforts have been focused largely on the Catholic Church, which claims the biggest share of adherents in Cuba. The program was helped by Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998.

Since the 1980s, the number of evangelicals in Cuba has more than tripled to one million, according to the National Council of Churches.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Americas • Cuba • Economy • Pentecostal

soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. ebm

    Hallelujah Brothers!!

    February 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  2. Curious

    Thanks Rationale. I apprecaite what you wrote.
    I understand where the about the burden of proof, and where it lies. I am just curious if the person could even possibly give me any answers to those questions, if they were just posted in the form of inquiry? For instance if I asked those questions as a party interested in how they came to thier conclusions, and what were they based on?

    I am really trying hard to understand where the athiest comes to these conclusions, and why. Have a nice night!

    February 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  3. Joe

    God IS Love
    1Jn 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    He paid the price for all the sins of the world; yours and mine!!! …
    Does this mean YOU have been forgiven?? YES!!! …

    What does your heart say; do you stand guilty and ashamed in bondage because of SIN (and yes you have it, we all do) or are you free in His Mercy and Grace????
    Let your heart answer it… God knows our hearts.. 

    Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
    Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

    Who did He die for, the ungodly ???

    Thank God for the forgiveness of sin thru the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord..
    Jesus is Lord.. And not only because we say a prayer or accept Him in our heart, but because HE IS LORD and long before we were in existence..

    People we’re walking around with a death sentence.. When is your time up?? We don’t know; but if we know the Truth, the Truth sets us free…

    John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

    February 8, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • Don

      Preaching is rude. Jesus wouldn't want you to be rude.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  4. Carmen

    It is wonderful to see believers in Jesus Christ come out of the shadows and support one another. Now if the shadow of communism could also be lifted, that would be the beginning of a saving grace for the declining country of Cuba.

    February 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  5. doctore0

    It's the same old story, people get broke.. they go and play in the hevn-lottery; But there is no lottery, no heaven and no god; Just religion sucking them dry, selling them false hope, fake through and through

    February 7, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  6. Lucy

    appreciate your info, however, we must recognize that angels are primarily in the service of God, not that of humans. (Psalm 103:20, 21) They respond to God’s direction, not to man’s summonses or requests. Hence, the one to call upon for help is Jehovah God, not the angels. (Matthew 26:53) Of course, since we do not see the angels, we cannot determine to what extent God uses them in helping people with various matters. But we know that Jehovah does “show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 91:11) And we have the assurance that “no matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he [God] hears us.”—1 John 5:14.

    My main point in my response to you is:
    The Scriptures also tell us that our prayers and worship should be directed to God alone. (Exodus 20:3-5; Psalm 5:1, 2; Matthew 6:9) Faithful angels encourage us to do that. For example, when the apostle John tried to worship an angel, that spirit creature rebuked him, saying: “Be careful! Do not do that! . . . Worship God.”—Revelation 19:10.

    February 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Magic

      Lucy,

      What proof do you have that these scriptures are the word of a god? The hallucinations, delusions, poetic personifications, superst.itions and possible downright lies of primitive Middle Eastern men? Va.gue prophecies which have been manipulated into seeming to come true? What?

      February 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Curious

      Magic

      Lucy,

      What proof do you have that these scriptures are the word of a god? The hallucinations, delusions, poetic personifications, superst.itions and possible downright lies of primitive Middle Eastern men? Va.gue prophecies which have been manipulated into seeming to come true? What?

      Magic,
      May I ask, what proof you have that the scriptures ARE NOT the word of God? Just curious, as my name denotes.
      Was there any proof that the Middle Eastern men, had hallucinated, were delusional, superst-itous, or outright possible liars?

      Could you specifically name the Middle Eastern man, you make refrence to, and then show the proof that each was guilty of the things you have said that they were? Or, are you speculating, and if so, based on what?

      What are the "va-gue prophecies, and how were they minipulated into "seemimgly" come true? An example..

      February 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @Curious
      The answer here is very simple. The burden of proof lies on the person claiming X to be true. It doesn't matter if we can't disprove X – that's a red herring and completely irrelevant. In other words, you must prove that these scriptures are the word of God, or you should at least have a very compelling line of reasoning. So just because someone can't disprove X doesn't mean X is therefore true.

      A very familiar use of the above logic is "Innocent until proven guilty."

      Hope that clears it up.

      February 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      "Nothing can be revoked or said in vain
      nor unfulfilled if I should nod my head."
      Zeus from the Illiad, Lines 526-527

      Hey look! I can quote a god too!

      February 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  7. kaey_Phils.

    I wanna share something here..A lot of times, I felt God's miracle & have it experienced. I dont know but I truly believe that He's real. As written in the Bible, whoever denies God, He'll deny that person as well. Those people who truly believe in God..those have happiness, contentment, and passion to help people...Those who do not believe in God..those are thieves, anti-social, narcissistic, have a conduct disorder..and headache in their society..Don..are you belong in a latter part?

    February 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • EmeraldCith

      As an atheist, I was all set to champion your freedom to believe as you wish, despite my preferences . . . until I got to your pathetic generalizations and lame judgment in the last sentence. Narcissist, indeed.

      February 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Kaey_Phils..I don't think many of your fellow believers would even agree with that. That is they type of generalization that you hear on school playgrounds before children learn to rationalize.

      February 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Of course, all of your judgments are based on your prejudices, many of them taught by your "spiritual leaders". Nothing you say is actually based on reality. This appears to be a common problem with religions and their adherents.

      February 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  8. Lucy

    Sadly there is a lot of people out there that feel that there is no God. That is exactly what satan wants you to believe.
    (2 Corinthians 4:4) 4 among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.
    Open your Bible, the manual of life. It takes in depth study, next time Angels direct a person that show up at your doors to offer you a in home bible study, let them in.

    February 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Reality

      Lucy,

      Hmmm, "Angels directing a person who show up at your door to offer........"?

      Might not be a great idea!!!

      To wit:

      It is called the Great Angelic Con Game:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.

      newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."
      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:
      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

      February 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Well, if believe rational thought is called satan, maybe. If observation and scientific inquiry are called satan, then I guess so. But that means I get to believe that "god" is the name deliberate ignorance and fear of the unknown, and I'm sure you'd find that offensive.

      I simply think that you choose to believe in god for your reasons, others don't because of their own reasons. Independent thought. You should try it.

      February 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Lucy..Isnt evolution great.. here we are a product of that fantastic process and there are some who them turn around and trivialize it by saying it was created by gods. how utterly boring..If only you could see how fantastic the way we came into being was, and how stars, trillions of miles and billions of years ago, blew apart in supernovae to produce the heavy metals that are found on earth today, and formed the iron we have in our blood. I will agree with the religious on one point for sure.. a sun died to give us life.

      February 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Don

      Lucy, there is no god. There is no devil. There is no heaven. There is no hell.

      February 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  9. Reality

    Saving Christians to include the Cuban evangelicals from the Big Resurrection Con Game:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
    p.4
    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
    o p.168. by Ted Peters:
    "Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    February 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Anglican

      Reality. You post as if Crossan is a god. One man, one opinion. Maybe Crossan is your god. Peace be with you till then. A

      February 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Reality

      Anglican,

      Did you not see the conclusions of JP II, Aquinas, Reimarus, Peters, contemporary Catholic/ Christian theologians et al? Add Professor Gerd Ludemann to the list as noted in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years.

      February 6, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Anglican

      Real. Are you prepared to stand at the edge of the abyss with faith in man only?

      February 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Anglican

      Real. Are you prepared to stand at the edge of the abyss with faith in man only?

      Yes i am. absolutely.. I have complete trust in our species. Let me ask you than Angilcan.. you are looking into the abyss and have asked god to stop you from falling to the bottom..or you can have "Man" rope you up in such a way you will not reach the bottom, and could retrieve you. Or would you trust god on a wing and prayer, so to speak, to save you with out human intervention?

      February 6, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Anglican

      Evolved. Man will not save man. Place your faith where you choose, Evo,, God or man. Peace.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Reality

      Anglican,

      And whose god should we put faith in?

      Some first century CE history:

      "Stories circulated to the effect that Alexander of Macedonia was not only the son of Philip II, but also of the god Zeus-Ammon (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Alexander" 2.1-3.2); Plato was the son of Ariston and the god Apollo (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers 3.1-2), and Augustus was the son of Octavius as well as the god Apollo (Suetonius, Lives o f the Caesars 2.4.1-7). The extraordinary character of these elites reputedly stemmed from both their divine origins and their kingroups. Their kin-groups provided one form of legitimation-political right to the throne and/or social status (thus the importance of Joseph in Matthew's genealogy). Their divine procreation provided another: their honor was divinely ascribed, and their greatness as leaders derived from divine paternity."

      From: K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998. p.55

      February 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Anglican.. you not answer the question.. would you put your life, if it was in immediate danger,in the hands of a human rescuer, or wait for god to save you. I think most people practice "safe faith" allowing god to save them when there is no evidence to the contrary.. if god has to show his mercy in puplic, perhaps before cameras.. the out come, without human intervention, is poor.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Anglican

      Real. I will blog this again. I am truly concerned that your "wisdom" will some day be your worst enemy. I hope not. Peace.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Anglican

      Evolved I am speaking of the eternal abyss. I do ER. You have chest pain, or cut your foot off, you would be foolish not to go to the ER. I have faith in God and my fellow man.

      February 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Don

      There is no eternal abyss, Anglican. Stop thinking that your childish myth will scare us as it has you; it won't.

      February 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  10. Evolved DNA

    Michael.. nor should you be afraid.. we just have a different opinion to you that's all. You are willing to believe with out evidence, I do not. You say for instance, that god is love and forgives.. yet it is contingent in my belief in him. I do not believe in the devil either, but it appears you are saying that I will go to he-ll if if do not repent.. so which of these ent-ities is truly forgiving..It appears to me the devil will take you unconditionally.

    February 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  11. Not Cool

    Religion is a comfort to have. It must surely be good to know (or believe) that this life is not wasted., and that everything is a test. Unfortunately, prayer does not feed the hungry or cure the ill. I don't say that out of spite or malignancy, I merely suggest that it is not an effective answer out of experience and common knowledge. Consider wisely what other things need to be done. Wishing for relief isn't nearly as good as working for it.

    February 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • hilltop

      Not,
      You should do some research on the percentage of charity work done around the world. The vast majority of it is done by people of faith, and a disproportionate majority of them are christian. You should practice good deeds not just wish for them.

      February 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  12. michael

    I for one am not afraid of others who do not believe in Jesus Christ as I do. My faith / belief in Him is fruitless and pointless if I depend upon my strength and ability to withstand the thoughtless drivel that comes from narrow mindedness. Despite the numerous people who "say" that God is not real... even if I myself should change my mind and say the same... the fact that He IS; is self evident. Chapter 1 of Romans declares that every human being has an innate knowledge that there is a God... chapter 2 declares that everyone also has the ingrained knowledge of right and wrong. When a person acts against another be it thought or deed... they "know" it is wrong. There is a conscience of conviction within testifying of the wrong doing. Now to him who has continued to ignore this conscience prompting... eventually they enter into a state of hard heartedness. They have in essence dulled their own hearing to this internal voice. The self realization of the person's own position as a sinner against God and Him alone... is the beginning of the journey into a relationship with Him. You must realize that God is a person... He simply exists differently than we do... the bible says that God is Spirit... as we are also, yet we exist at this time within physical bodies. He did also for a season (time). His name is Jesus. Without aknowledgement of Jesus and His sacrifice... it is impossible to escape the judgement... escape eternal damnation of hell. Hey... don't get mad at me... God said it, I am only the messenger. If you will not listen to Him; I don't know why, but maybe He thinks you might listen to me or other people who do acknowledge Him. As a Christian I do not fear the "words, ideas" of unbelievers... if I did; that in itself would be an admonition that God is not God. Those words would be greater than God. "I have great hopes for you. You are special and I love YOU!" says God. Michael

    February 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • EmeraldCity

      All of your proof toward "self evidence" is based upon a book written and revised numerous times by men. Humans.

      My life exists whether I read that or not. I have a good life and don't pray. I take full accountability for my actions and use problem solving when there are problems.

      My refusal to read the bible these days and factor in any religious authority to the way that I live my life does not affect my ability perceive right from wrong or my ability to treat others with kindness or do good deeds.

      February 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Don

      That there is a god is not self-evident.

      February 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • hilltop

      Emerald,
      How did you arrive at right and wrong? What measuring system did you use? Is your right, right universally or only in your own mind?

      February 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  13. CatholicMom

    Has this ever happened before? Where are all the other posts?
    I will post 'Rationale"s comment and then my reply since I have it...........

    TheRationale

    Earth to Reality Check...
    Under which rock have you been living under for the past few eons? Atheism has existed thousands of years before communism, and in fact is intrinsically older than any religion, implicitly at least. Both of you are confusing atheism with anti-theism. Atheism is the lack of a belief in god – it is logically impossible for atheism to be responsible for anyone doing anything, ever. At all. Anti-theism is actively going against theological reasoning, churches, etc.
    And in case you haven't noticed, state-sponsored secularism is the answer to government-religious anything. Logical reasoning usurps religion when people listen to it. Having the government intercede and force people to "believe" one way or another defeats the point of thinking rationally.
    Many atheists are atheists because they've looked into religion. Religions require the suspension of your own judgment to believe, as they cannot be supported by logical reasoning (hence "faith"). There is simply no reason to do this. Faith perpetuates poverty and suffering because it tricks people into thinking that a solution is guaranteed when it is not. Only by actually working themselves will they achieve success. But if they think they already have it, then they're bound to stagnate.

    to Rationale....
    When people are in charge of their lives, as the world will attest to, they have an inclination towards worship of their creator.

    Those that don’t wish to share in that worship truly must feel lost…I hope not though because the world is praying for them in hopes that they will realize there is Someone greater than themselves…the God that made them, and hopefully they will come to know Him, too.

    It is this faith in God that helps eliminate poverty and suffering because people realize that with love and a charitable heart towards their suffering neighbor they can do much to help them…even if it is only with a kind word of desire to help…even if they themselves are in poverty and have not much to share. Love knows no bounds because it is in hope that it lives and it is through faith that it is fruitful.
    Pulling yourself up by your own boot straps when there are no boot straps will not work. Love finds a way…………….

    February 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • EmeraldCity

      "When people are in charge of their lives, as the world will attest to, they have an inclination towards worship of their creator."

      Perhaps you can just go on record as stating that the many brilliant philosophers, scientists and other writers (dating back to the Renaissance) were not in charge of their lives. Then you can be awarded the gold star for ignorance.

      BTW, I'm an atheist and certainly don't feel lost. I'm grateful that in this day and age, I can be an atheist without fear of persecution and have the right to speak up about my [lack of] belief.

      People do a grand job (and have done so at times) of eliminating poverty without any dependence upon a belief in or reliance upon the great beyond.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Don

      I'm in charge of my life; that's why I'm an atheist.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Catholicmom.....I am very sure you are devout in your beliefs, and are sincere in all you say. i would not doubt that for a minute.
      As an atheist, I do not subscribe to "Atheism" that would tend to describe a way of life, or some form of club, where like thinking individuals group together. It is very possible that the only difference between me, and you, and many more on here, is the fact i do not believe in God.. tha'st it.. I do not like any violence, or injustice. I like the beauty of nature, and when I read about the wonderful way that evolution works, the way that we have iron in our blood..how we are connected to universe by ancient dead suns..it does inspire me to feel alive. You call, that divine inspiration, i do not.. that's it.
      It is also true that at this time no one has an answer as to how all this started... science has hypotheses as does the Bible The Aborigines, North American Indians and many others to numerous to mention here.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I think if people are in charge of their lives, some people with stop at a supernatural power, but others won't be so willing to trade one authority for another. I think a lot of it depends on the level of education people receive. However, there are some people who will always chose to think for themselves and seek the truth in their own observations and experiments. This is why we have always had scientists.

      February 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Lucy

      Human rulers are not finding solutions to the vast problems plaguing mankind today; nor will the situation get better because of human efforts. God’s Word foretold that in our time “wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.” (2 Timothy 3:13) Injustice is so much a part of the fabric of daily living that men cannot remove it. Only the God of justice can remove it. Only he can remove Satan, the demons, and evil humans.—Jeremiah 10:23, 24.

      When Jehovah destroys this unjust system of things that is under Satan’s control, He will usher in a glorious new world. It will be controlled by God’s heavenly Kingdom, for which Jesus taught his followers to pray. Wickedness and injustice will be replaced by righteousness and justice, for then the prayer will be answered in the fullest sense: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:10.

      That is what satan doesn't want you to know. What have we been praying for all these years? "Let your kindsom come.....Not if, when.

      February 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • EmeraldCity

      Human rulers have always struggled with the problems that plague humanity. Indeed, however, they are finding solutions to problems and have done so steadily since the age of enlightenment. There have been discoveries in science, vaccines found for polio and other maladies, advances in communication, transportation – a great leap in many things in the 20th century. But yet you want to quote passages from an ancient book, written by humans.

      Your post is highly ignorant. Cultish, even.

      February 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Evolved DNA,

      You and I are alike in many ways, that is for sure. All those things you like…beauty of nature and the way that things ‘work together’ to produce life, and how we ‘feel good’ about it all, are certainly points we can agree on. I just have a take on it that may differ from yours….I believe God made it all to happen by His power and desire for it to be so. I do not question the Truth that Science produces but relish in it as just another revealed Truth that we have just discovered. I think there is much more to come as we can bear it. I love it all and find it most exciting to be alive in this day and age!

      I also believe if we would stop aborting our ‘next generation’ we will have more scientists working on into the future on thoughts that come to their minds. We pray for cures for HIV/AIDS and cancers and all sorts of things…don’t we know these findings [cures] have to come from minds that will think of the perfect thought that will lead to these cures?…and every mind destroyed in each baby by abortion could have been the mind that held that cure…..so far we have destroyed over 53,000,000 minds possibly carrying that ‘wonder thought’ since making abortion legal.

      tallulah13,
      We are all in charge of our lives; we all have free will and can believe as we please. There is no ‘trading’ one Truth for another or one authority for another or ‘halting our progress’ in our thoughts as long as we are free and use our free will as we please….we believe because of what we know and have learned by our living our lives. At least that is the way it is in the USA and we should be proud and grateful for all who have given their lives to make this possible….we are ‘free’…free to believe…to think…to act on our convictions…we are still a nation of free people and it is true, not all think or believe the same….but as a nation we are a people who believe in a supernatural God….with a few who do not; but the fact that we can be free to choose what is in our minds is what is great about our nation….we have to agree on that!

      February 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @CatholicMom

      To assert that people "in charge of their lives" feel inclined to worship is simply not true. While you yourself may feel that way, there is just nothing to back it up when you speak for others, ie atheists. Atheists get along just fine. No, we aren't missing anything, we aren't empty, stop thinking that we are. We have no urge to worship – none.

      Also, saying "well that baby could have been the next Beethoven" is negated by "that baby could have been the next Hitler". Yeah, sounds trite, but sound bites like those usually are.

      February 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • tallulah13

      CM

      As you can see on these boards, some people do indeed stop looking once they affiliate themselves with a supernatural power. Then they threaten anyone who doesn't that believe as they do with eternal suffering. Some people seek more information, and some people seek until they can find no room for the supernatural. The more educated you are, even if that education comes from simply slaking your own curiousity, the more curious most you become. (That's the metaphorical "you", not you personally.)

      Your claims that when people are in control of their lives they are inclined to worship a creator may be valid to a point, but many will look farther, to education, to discovering what the powers that be did not want them to know. History shows how much can be accomplished when people shake off the shackles of oppression, be it religious or political.

      February 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Don

      Lucy, if satan is so bad, why did satan stand against Balaam and for god when Balaam disobeyed god? Look it up in the book of Numbers.

      Hint: satan isn't the boogeyman you think it is. The satan you think of as the evil deity is really a product of Greek and Orphic influences, and has no place in judaism.

      February 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  14. Cuban-American-1959

    If you chose not to believe, who cares!? If you chose to believe, who cares!?
    The point is that Cuba is slowly changing and fostering some form of civil society; religion is a baby step in that direction.
    Virtually all religious groups and any type of civil society was wiped out by Castro after the revolution, that's what this is about.

    February 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  15. Evolved DNA

    They all look so happy in that picture.....a choice between poverty and religion.. if you can tell them that the reward is in the afterlife it works to allow those who really know its not true to enjoy their life with out hassles. I wonder if any of the religious leaders truly believe in what they espouse.

    February 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • EmeraldCity

      There's no doubt about it that religions have always served as a pressure valve.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  16. Don

    Hmmm....could it be that CNN has taken to creating different pages for comments to rectify their previously fubar'd system?

    February 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Magic

      Don,

      Well, I guess a remedy *could* happen. But now it looks like we'll have to page-back endlessly to find a particular post. They need a "Show All" option too.

      I wonder if we can say, 'const.itution' now? - Answer: Nope

      February 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • EmeraldCity

      Is there a running list out there of words CNN deems to be red flags that send posts into the void? Does anyone know?

      February 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Reality

      • The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

      • More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

      Sum Dude routinely updates the list of forbidden words/fragments.

      Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation".

      "Raison's Filter Fiber© (joking about the copyright)
      1. Here's my latest list – this seems like a good spot to set this down, as nobody's posting much on this thread.....
      --–
      bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to post that wonderful argument:
      Many, if not most are buried within other words, but I am not shooting for the perfect list, so use your imagination and add any words I have missed as a comment (no one has done this yet)
      – I found some but forgot to write them down. (shrugs).
      s-ex
      c-um.........as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, etc.
      sp-ic........as in disp-icable (look out Sylvester the cat!)
      ho-mo...whether ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, etc.
      t-it.........const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, etc.
      an-al......ban-al
      sh-it
      fu-ck...
      who-re
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, (an unexpected one)
      pr-ick
      sl-ut
      c-lit
      va-g....as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant
      hor-ny
      ar-se....yet "ass" is not filtered!
      nip-ple
      po-rn
      c-ock
      nig-ger
      cu-nt
      b-itch
      ra-pe
      jacka-ss...but ass is fine lol
      p-is.....as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, etc.
      o ficti-tious, repeti-tion, competi-tion.
      Sna-tch
      soft-ware
      Ja-panese
      Span-king
      hoo-ters
      There are more, so do not assume that this is complete.
      -–
      okay words that you might not expect to be filtered....!!!
      beaver
      penis
      ass
      crap
      damn
      anal
      anus
      sphincter
      testicles
      testes
      pubic
      boob
      --

      Here's a word to add to the banned list: co-co-on
      whether it's c-oc, or co-on, this is ridiculous."

      February 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • EmeraldCith

      Thx for the list, Reality. Honestly, there have been times here when I have used none of those words (or variations) and have still had my posts thrown into the moderation void or worse yet – they simply disappeared.

      February 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  17. pachecosita

    The planet is heading to opening Eyes...all these religions will be in museums...it's a fact.

    February 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • dolfina

      People that reject Christ have serious problems. Offering love, unconditionally, is what Jesus was about. Not organizing, laws, or "touch not, eat not"...there is freedom in Christ! "He that the Son sets free is free – INDEED!"

      February 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Or, hey! Just be a decent person and try to live a good life. No supernatural powers needed!

      February 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  18. CatholicMom

    Those in power in Cuba have seen the Light!

    By allowing Pope John Paul II to visit Cuba when he did, they have allowed people to take a look at the world and start to form a society, not on atheism but a society where they have more opportunity to express their own personal wishes.....to worship God as they choose and to ‘show love for neighbor’, to be able to openly speak their minds, and through charities help feed the hungry and take care of the poor.

    The Cuban government has a long history which has proven their 'approach' has failed miserably. By creating space for people to persue religion [as they so desire] will show the world they are ready for a new direction in Cuba and we need to take a look at how we respond to them in our ‘world society’.
    God Bless the people of Cuba!

    February 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Catholicmom..so your religion allows you to think for your self except when it conflicts with your pope...openly speak their minds.. just like the pope asked his ped-philes to do...

      February 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Don

      Cuba is a society based on collectivism and state-worship, not atheism. A society based on giving all you have, for it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, right? It's a very christian society.

      February 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Evolved DNA,

      Seems my religion is perfect for me! I love it, I love the Pope, all of it….everything that is Catholic right on back to its very foundation when Jesus Christ set up His Church, inst!tuted the Sacraments, all for the love of me!! [and you…..]

      Sure, there are those who wish to not follow the Path set down by Him and wish to interpret His Teachings in their own way; and there are 38000 of these ecclesial communities now, so don’t be so concerned, Evolved DNA, I could go off the path, too, because I am free to do so….and there would be 38000 communities to investigate to find the one that thinks like me….and if after searching for however long that would take, and if couldn't find one, I could still just start up my own and call it ‘Me, Me, Me... and No One Else But God’ and then if someone wanted to join my community I might have to change my name but, whatever, what is one more added to the 38000?

      February 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  19. DaveFour

    I still find it amusing that soooooo many anti religion people read the BELIEF BLOG. Week after week leaving the same disparaging comments. I am not sure what it accomplishes other than adding to the overall hit/comment rate of this page.

    February 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Don

      I find it amusing that you're scared of people who don't believe as you do.

      February 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • EmeraldCity

      How different is it from those comments found on other CNN story threads? Is the Belief Blog supposed to be somehow exempt from trolls, disparaging comments and arguments against religion?

      February 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you CNN for allowing everyone to express their thoughts (unless they are being screened out because of naughty words).

      February 6, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • yucco

      We come here for comic relief.

      February 7, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • wjmknight

      Religon brings out the worst in people, go figure Einstein...

      February 7, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  20. Thomas

    It's amazing how much of a hornets nest the name of Jesus can stir up. And how much totalitarian Governments and other religions fear it. All over the world today Christians are still persecuted, imprisoned, and put to death because thier faith in that name. And yet Christinaity still flourishes and prospers. People are willing to be imprisoned and tortured even to the point of death. Why? becuase a hungry heart that at one time cried out to God. And God in turn revealed himself to them.

    You may not believe in God, But have you ever truely sought to find out if God is real? And I don't mean read some books or go to some lecture. But getting down and from the heart asking God to reveal himself to you. Then maybe reading the new testament. Until you give God the chance to prove himself as real in your personal life. Then you really shouldn't judge others concerning thier belief in him.

    February 6, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Don

      bt;dt Thomas. There is no god.

      February 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Magic

      Thomas,

      >"People are willing to be imprisoned and tortured even to the point of death. Why?"

      Because, while perhaps well-meaning, they are gullible, misled, and delusional.

      >"Until you give God the chance to prove himself as real in your personal life."

      I was a fervent, devoted believer for many years. There is no-one there.

      February 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Jim

      Huh!! God...what's that, cause there is no such a thing! evangelicals freaks! rising up..sounds like the (Rise of the Dead = zombies!)

      February 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • EmeraldCity

      At the end of the day, it's all faith based. There's no proof.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • TheTruth72

      @Magic Well, I guess you didn't do enough reading of actual testimonies where people encountered supernatural spiritual events that came from God. And don't tell me, "Oh those are made up." Cause there are hundreds of thousands of those stories and many with eye witnesses. Do your research. Read your Bible. That's the problem with most people these days, and even people who call themselves Christians and don't practice the faith like they should, they just don't get educated and start spouting nonsense.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • dolfina

      Amen! I'm glad these people have had the opportunity to see God
      s grace in their lives. We all know "the fool has said in his heart – 'there is no God"

      February 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Don

      TheTruth, I guess you didn't read how all of those stories contradict each other. And I guess you didn't read how claiming the supernatural exists without direct evidence is simply a blatant ass.ertion. And I guess you didn't read that someone's story doesn't make it true.

      And dolfina, you violated Matt 5:22.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • tallulah13

      thetruth72: Personal stories mean nothing. Things happen and sometimes they are hard to explain. For some people, it means god is visiting them. Others search for (and often find) rational explanations for these events. Some people see a nativity scene in a piece of christmas candy. Others see a guy playing bongos. I have read many stories here and find nothing to indicate a supernatural presence.

      People who want to see god will see god in anything. The rest of us wait for proof.

      February 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • thorrsman

      @Don. You keep making the claim that there are no Gods. I have yet to see your proof. Or is that just a matter of personal faith?

      February 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @Thorrsman
      Asking for proof of nonexistence is a red herring. I demand you prove that Zeus isn't real. What? No proof?
      The answer: Fundamental logical error. The person asserting an idea has the sole responsibility of proving it. The burden of proof lies with he who asserts.

      @TheTruth72
      Claims from personal experience mean essentially nothing. By your logic, Hinduism, Greek mythology, and Christianity are all equally viable on behalf of the claims made in their favor and by whatever literature they may have behind them. Clearly this is not the case.

      @dolfina
      You're using circular logic to assert Christianity. I could just make a book that says "The fool hath said in his heart, there are no hobbits" and by your standard of evidence, well, you can see where that goes.

      Just because the Bible asserts something doesn't mean it's correct. I don't see you citing the passages mandating the slaughter of gays or naughty children!

      February 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Don

      thorrsman, you keep claiming that there is a god, but have yet to show it. You are the existentially positive claimant; you have the burden of proof. Whining about that will mean that you admit that there is no god.

      So what you need to do is coherently define god using specific, concrete, objective terms. You cannot use logical fallacies, inconsistencies, or contradictions. You cannot use emotions such as "god is love" for your definition, for that renders god solely in your head-and I don't think you want that. You cannot use other secondary/personality qualities, for that doesn't tell me anything. You cannot say something like "god is the creator of everything", for that begs the question.

      In short: it is the abject failure of theists to even explain what their god is which renders the word "god" a meaningless 3-character string. It is devoid of all denotional coherence. While it might connote something, that something can clearly only exist in the realm of fiction, alongside such creatures as elves, minotaurs, and pixies.

      February 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • gerald

      Don,

      You hope......What an empty hope that is.

      February 7, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • wjmknight

      So, you are saying that I cannot sit in judgement on a murderer unless I have committed murder myself?

      ...A very convenient excuse for saying you shouldn't be held accountable for your actions....

      February 7, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Don

      No gerald, I do not hope; I know. It is apodictic.

      February 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.