Survey: Recession's effects fading for some churches
March 30th, 2011
12:22 PM ET

Survey: Recession's effects fading for some churches

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The worst of the recession may be over for some of America’s churches, a survey released Wednesday on religions donations indicated.

According to the survey, called State of the Plate, 43% of churches saw a rise in contributions in 2010, compared to 36% that saw an increase the year before.

Meanwhile, 39% of churches saw their giving dip last year, down from 47% that reported declines in 2009.

The survey, which is not scientific, garnered responses in February and March from 1,507 churches, most of them U.S.-based. The survey included responses from 86 churches from other countries, primarily Canada.

“Giving increases have begun to provide a glimmer of hope for many churches,” the survey reported.

The economic recession has taken a financial toll on many churches, with some filing for bankruptcy or struggling to hold onto property.

Smaller churches were hardest hit in 2010, with about 4 in 10 seeing contributions decline, compared to 3 in 10 megachurches – those with 2,000 or more weekly attendees.

The survey was co-sponsored by Christian ministry Maximum Generosity, publisher Christianity Today International and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Churches responding to the survey represent evangelical (24%), Baptist (23%), Independent/Non-denominational (21%), mainline Protestant (13%), Charismatic/Pentecostal (12%), Catholic/Orthodox (2%) and other Christian traditions (5%).

The survey also asked about President Barack Obama’s proposal to reduce tax deductions for charitable donations among wealthy Americans, with 9 in 10 churches reporting they would be negatively affected by such a move.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Money & Faith

soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. John

    People, give your money to those that need it. Don't waste it on church buildings and false teachesr.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Manolo

      So you're saying that people should give money to a person on the street who "needs it" based upon that person's word alone and not give money through an organization that uses structured ministries that are purposefully designed to provide people with long-term help that could end their addictions, their poverty, their hunger, their lonliness and suicidal tendencies, their lack of job skills, etc?

      The church "buildings" you speak against also have day care facilities in them for poor, working parents, food pantries that feed the hungry, clothes closets to put warm coats on people, commercial kitchens to feed the street poor and prepare foods for shut-in elderly people. These buildings serve as voting places so democracy can flourish here and community meeting rooms, they provide recreational facilities to keep youth off of the streets and out of trouble, and they have classrooms to teach or learn skills long after the public school systems have left them illiterate and ignorant.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  2. Joal

    There is no such thing as radical atheism... only people who are tired of defending rational thought. Fanaticism requires a focus (belief), atheism is specifically the lack of such a focus.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Absolutely correct, though you'll never convince a religionist of it.
      Atheism is a negative statement that says only what one does NOT believe.
      It does not imply any behaviours, morals, or characteristics whatsoever.
      Nihilism, anarchism, hedonism, etc. are routinely conflated with atheism – especially on this blog – so don't get too frustrated.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  3. Joal

    If churches shouldn't be taxed, then they shouldn't be run like businesses.

    March 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Manolo

      Protestant churches are structured according to models of efficiency and the obligation to obey government and those appointed as overseers and leaders. God, in the Bible's New Testament, establishes structure for church leaders (pastors, deacons, and elders), the requirement for orderly worship, and the need for organization in carrying out the affairs of the church. Churches do pay taxes, including payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and vehicle use and ownership taxes, plus other state and local taxes. They are exempt from taxation upon income derived from the financial gifts of members and visitors for the same reasons every other non-profit is: the funds cannot be used to benefit any individuals exclusively; they must benefit the organization as a collective and its goals. Besides, the financial gifts to churches have already been subjected to income tax. Why should the government tax it a second time just because it was given to a church?

      March 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  4. Jimbo

    I'll throw my money into the air and what god wants he can keep, everything else that falls to the ground is mine.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Be funny if it fell into a grate.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Jeanine

      lol – good one Lycidas. That would be funny. Jimbo's idea is a good one, though. Why don't people do that with their money?

      March 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Manolo

      Let me know when you'll be doing that. God has moved me and some of his other followers to spread out a parachute underneath when you toss it. He'd for us to go to take his money to the grocery store and buy some food for some of the hungry kids in your neighborhood.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  5. david in chicago

    get smart, even God doesn't believe in God anymore

    March 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Manolo

      That's a pretty zippy one liner, but hardly rooted in truth.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  6. CW

    Contrary to what most think on this Churches for the most part do use the money they get for doing good. From funding food banks to providing funds for missionaries they do and still continue to do good around the world.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Jeanine

      "for the most part" Ha! You wish.
      They continue to do evil behind a facade of good works. Doesn't cut it with me.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Strictly my opinion of course, but I would wager that the facts would support the notion that the money raised by Churches do more good than evil. But one also has to keep in mind that in this fun little world of ours, bad news always gets more coverage than the good.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • CW

      @ Jeanine,

      Don't understand your so called "don't cut it" stuff but anyway have it your way. Anyway I would rather put my money in Church where I KNOW it will do some good.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Food banks, homeless shelters, abused women's shelters etc. are all undeniably good, charitable works for anyone, regardless of religion.
      Missionary work can only be considered good and charitable by members of the missionaries own faith.
      Do you think Mormon missionaries are doing good, in that they spread what you consider false scripture?

      March 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jeanine

      CW – And if your five bucks ends up going towards something you believe to be wrong or evil you'll just turn around and say something like "Oh, that's just human folly". Right.

      March 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  7. Caliban

    Churches are like the mafia, they get their "cut" of the action FIRST, then if any money (that the taxpayers gave) is left it may go to those that need it. Americans can help poor people without giving a slice to "gods" servants.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  8. CNNduringWork

    And how repulsive a thought that all these acts are done "in the name of God"....rather than in the name of decency. If done as part of a faith-based action, good acts and charitable work are significantly reduced to a means to avoid the eternal damnation of a "loving" God...it's part of the motivation....why not do these things because it's just the right thing to do, and who cares who is watching (or most likely....who ISN'T watching)...

    March 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  9. Susan

    Religion is the problem in America? Please. America is where it is due to corporate greed and the head-in-the-sand-what-is-Charlie-Sheen-doing American public. Let's look at some non-religious groups, TEPCO, BP, AIG...

    March 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Organized religion can be a problem. Too many Churches are only well organized at the very top while there is no active participation at the typical membership level. This breeds the possibility of corruption. Nothing really new or unique to the Chruch anymore than any other organization.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  10. CNNduringWork

    How these religious organizations continue to exist without paying taxes is just (no pun intended)...sinful! The fact that they are struggling AND get such a sizable subsidy begs the question: Why do tax payers have to implicitly support the ongoing operations of these organizations when their message clearly isn't selling enough with Americans?

    March 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  11. Chanselor Jenkins

    Cast not pearls before swine.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  12. Judgement

    So much stereotyping on here. If I were to apply the same logic as most of these comments, every man, woman and child on this planet would be considered worthless.

    Why do you let the actions of the few speak for the masses? Folks, despite how "evil" you think churches are, most do their communities much good. I know this and I don't even go to church. Try sitting your personal agendas aside and entertain the facts for awhile.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Jeanine

      And that's why the country is in such good shape, right? Thanks to your religion?

      No thanks. Take your lack of discernment and shove it up your nearest religious instltution sideways.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Judgement

      @Jeanine.....you assume much. A sure trait of a feeble mind. I'm not religious, I just don't practice selective thinking. Personally speaking, I believe it is of your type that is the major contribution to the fall of this nation. Always looking at the bad, never the good. I come across your type often. So quick to point the finger everywhere but where it's needed, at yourself. Peace.

      March 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Jeanine

      You don't know me very well, do you? Well that's okay. I don't encounter many intelligent believers either.
      They tend to leave after figuring things out. The evidence is overwhelming if you can face the truth.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  13. CEL1

    Churches could do more good if they took care of more people here at home and stopped sending money overseas. We have enough hungry and homeless here to go around. Churches keep on sending those USD to other countries so they don't have to deal with the real issues here at home. FACE THE REALITY, CHURCHES !!!!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Manolo

      I think you'd be surprised to know that the United States/North America (Canada and the United States combined) are now considered to be mission fields by many foreign-based Christian organizations. Countries of the continent of Africa, and countries like the Philippines, Brazil, Scotland, Germany, and India and Pakistan, and those of the former Soviet Republic are sending thousands of missionaries here!

      March 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  14. Larry L

    I see Pastor John Hagee (San Antonio's Cornerstone Church) lives out in the most prestigious community in the city. I suppose he's closer to God – living on top of that big hill in his mansion. The mega-churches in Texas (especially the Cornerstone organization) are focal points for much of the right-wing political nonsense of the times. They are essentially political action groups for the Republican Party and should be taxed as lobbyists.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Manolo

      Hagee is a leader in the so-called "Name It, Claim It" or "Prosperity Gospel" movement. He's hardly a spokesperson or ideologist for the Republican Party or for conservatism. He's not even doctrinally in the realm of mainstream Christianity. Further. while that particular church claims about 19,000 members (churches count "membership" in many different ways), it is hardly a drop in the bucket of the 50 to 60 million registered Republicans (actually only about less than one-fifth of one percent, an infantessimally small number). To make the claim as you did is a preposterous as someone claiming that all Democrats are mountain goats! Let's be real, friend.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • CB

      John Hagee is a fat windbag of monumental scale.

      March 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  15. everteta

    Why all the hateful comments? We pay taxes to the government so they can fight wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and who knows where next. We have state and local government hijacked by unions that have so much power they can browbeat them into raising taxes that affect private-sector employees who are the majority. On the other hand, no one makes anyone go to church; no one makes anyone give to church; there is no law making anyone contribute to their faith or lack there of.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  16. JohnRJ08

    I think that many churches, synagogues and mosques do terrific charitable work. However, religion in this country has become too politicized and it is now exerting far too much influence on public policy. Religion should be about a person's faith and worship, rather than where they stand on Planned Parenthood or the construction of a mosque. Period. Because it has gone far beyond that, I believe all religious organizations should be taxed so that they can contribute to the welfare of the country as whole. Religious groups, especially evangelical Christians, have brought this upon themselves with their partisan activism and, in some case, hateful bigotry.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • yeppers..

      And the irony is, Jesus was apolitical!

      March 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Well, Jesus did say to give to Caesar what is Caesar and give to God what is God. It's just that he knew nothing really belonged to Caesar aka the govt.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Well if they're hateful bigots then they aren't really following Christs teachings then are they? It's just funny (and sad) how all the athesists think that Christianity is the cause of all the problems in the world.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • CW

      @ JohnRJ08,

      You know the problem isn't with christians at all. You see back in the old times abortion WAS WRONG, H-'o-m-o-s-'e-xuality WAS WRONG, as well as many other things that we as a nation NOW tolerate and think is okay. The reason....we have forsaken God...PERIOD. So in essence this nation is trying to take back its values....THAT is the reason that WE so called christians are so expressive.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Jeanine

      "It's just that he knew nothing really belonged to Caesar aka the govt."

      So you knew what he was thinking? You are such a liar. You don't even know that he existed or not. You can't even prove that you are intelligent. You haven't done it so far, Peewee. But keep on saying dumb things. I am having fun stalking you. lol

      March 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Jeanine said, "Jesus is dead. That's why no one has seen him lately."

      But then also said, "You don't even know that he existed or not."

      Which is it Jeanine, does he exist or not? Get it together hun.

      But on your critique, what do you think Jesus meant when he said it? Or do you not have the ability to reason?

      March 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Lycidas – why not take it as written? That religious things are religious and secular things are secular.
      Therefore your religion has no secular authority. Period. Think about the implications of that.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I never have thought that religion of any form should have control over the govt. Or vice versa.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Lycidas – you wrote "I never have thought that religion of any form should have control over the govt. Or vice versa."

      But you also previously wrote "Well, Jesus did say to give to Caesar what is Caesar and give to God what is God. It's just that he knew nothing really belonged to Caesar aka the govt."

      So you're saying that Jesus was being deliberately misleading? Or even lied? Is that what you are saying?

      And are you also saying that everything is "God's" and so nothing should be given to any government? Or what?
      Could you elaborate? Because whether he lied or not, isn't it written that he said this because people were just trolling him?
      What's up with that? Why couldn't he just spit out his clear opinion? Why speak in parables if you've got nothing to hide and don't want to mislead anyone as to "God's" truth?

      March 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Lycidas

      With parables, ppl think more than just being told straight out. You approve of ppl coming to conclusions through thought instead of dictated to all the time right?

      I see no conflict with what Jesus said and what I said. You are taking things to unneeded extremes though. One should give unto the govt what is the govt. but what does the govt really own? In a republic/democratic sensibility...the purpose of the govt is to help the ppl which goes right with Biblical teachings. But one does not give the govt worship or show honor simply because it's the govt.

      March 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Lycidas – Since the concept of "ownership" is a very mixed bag that deserves further debate, I think it needs a whole thread by itself.
      What does anyone "own", for example? What criteria do you use to determine who owns what? And so on...

      But I think it odd that you would ask "what does the govt really own", when I was talking about secular authority versus religious authority.
      Especially when Christians are commanded to respect secular authority as being "authorized" by your god.
      Very strange or "odd" as you like to say.

      As for giving the govt "worship", some might argue that patriotism does that very thing.
      And as for "showing honor", it is much the same deal. Patriots show honor to their govt do they not? Yet this "worship" and "honor" are not often religious in scope but secular...unless the patriotism is integrated with a religious view of the govt.
      Then you get people saying things like "this is God's own country" or "this is a Christian nation" or some such rubbish.

      As to your Jesus being deliberately obtuse – I think it is telling that you think it is okay, for it allows you to interpret what he said any way you please – and that is what you do. Without clarity, how can you say you have any derived from it?

      As for letting ppl come to their own conclusions, I have done just that, and denounce what is written in your Bible thereby.

      Speaking in parables, obscure references and phrases, and anything of that sort is dishonest.
      Fraudster tricks for fraudsters.
      No one but a con-artist would approve of such tactics to people who need honest and clear answers to their desperately important and relevant questions. Especially those who are ignorant or have low IQs who need extra help.

      The more I discuss and argue about Jesus, the more I see that he was a fake, a liar without portfolio, a sham writ large.

      You think your god has religious or spiritual authority over the whole universe?
      Yet there is no proof of that.
      If you could prove he existed and that we could actually communicate with him, then we could certainly ask him for the truth, except he likes (according to ppl like you) to speak in a mumbling, deliberately obfuscatory manner – as if this endorsed his wisdom!
      Nope. It endorses fraudulent behavior and free-fall interpretations instead of wisdom or discernment!
      You are a good example of this.
      You do not seek truth, having given up all such pursuits because you think you already have the truth.

      Your failure to question your god, his attributes, the words attributed to him, the people who wrote those words, or anything connected with your "faith" is always going to be the wall this debate runs into unless you change your thinking habits.

      You have a god, yet he gives you nothing anyone can see, not even proof. He speaks to no one and does nothing, makes no pronouncements, gives no signs, but only has followers who make up their own interpretations of everything related to him without questioning themselves, their conclusions , their interpretations, or any of it.

      Good luck with that afterlife thing.
      Having such a lack of perception and a definite lack in communication ability in your own soul, you are not likely to understand the afterlife either. Jesus will take that white rock with your name on it and hit you in the head maybe.
      It doesn't say that he won't! 🙂

      March 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Especially when Christians are commanded to respect secular authority as being "authorized" by your god.
      Very strange or "odd" as you like to say."

      Nothing odd about living in peace with your neighbor or respecting the govt. As long as the govt does not force you to go against your faith, there should not be any conflict.

      "As for giving the govt "worship", some might argue that patriotism does that very thing." and "Patriots show honor to their govt do they not?"

      Never cared for patriotism. Sorry, you are talking to someone that was in the military and so glad to get the heck out of it. But in our society it is more honorable to make the govt good and just than to honor a corrupt one.

      "Then you get people saying things like "this is God's own country" or "this is a Christian nation" or some such rubbish."

      Never thought of this nation as that. Total believer in the separation of state and church.

      "As to your Jesus being deliberately obtuse.."

      I don't think he was at all. Arriving to the conclusion by figuring it out is a hallmark of a good teacher. After all, do you not get more out of a lesson by being active in the process than being flat out told?

      "I have done just that, and denounce what is written in your Bible thereby."

      As is your right.

      "Speaking in parables, obscure references and phrases, and anything of that sort is dishonest. Fraudster tricks for fraudsters."

      I suddenly feel sorry for Aesop and Uncle Remus. You must not have much respect for the those stories. Oh, and you are leading the witness again prosecutor. You have a good knack for that. Slwoly work in terms like fraud and such and before you know it, you have the person undeniably pegged with that term. Faulty but clever attempt.

      "Your failure to question your god, his attributes, the words attributed to him, the people who wrote those words, or anything connected with your "faith" is always going to be the wall this debate runs into unless you change your thinking habits."

      This made me laugh. Oh my gosh do I question everything. You make the wrong assumption that all Christians must get along in the club or something. Believe me, I have bothered many a Christian with my views on the faith. Just imagine trying to tell your Southern Baptist uncle that you didn't get baptized at the Jordan river because you didn't feel led to. I've bucked authority on many topics and at many levels, so trying to tie me into the mainstream religious thought might not be a wise strategy.

      "You have a god, yet he gives you nothing anyone can see, not even proof."

      I require no proof to give. Though some may say that the proof is in how one lives their life.

      "You do not seek truth, having given up all such pursuits because you think you already have the truth."

      You are assuming again and dare I say it, you are beginning to preach on here. You started off with govt and ended up back at wanting for me to prove God to you when you are unable to believe.

      "Having such a lack of perception and a definite lack in communication ability in your own soul, you are not likely to understand the afterlife either. Jesus will take that white rock with your name on it and hit you in the head maybe.
      It doesn't say that he won't!"

      You are good at assuming, not good at what you are assuming though. We don't understand the fullness of our own lives on this planet. We don't know fully where we have been, where we will be or how to figure out anything really. I never held the idea that I would just know it all when the times comes. I do feel sorry that you do not understand the verse from Revelation you are referencing. Surprised I knew the reference? The stone you are speaking of represents innocence. In the ancient world it was common to use stones in court to cast votes. Black/dark stones for guilty and white for innocence. The white stone you mention is a sign of innocence. The name on it is not the name you are called on Earth but you true name. A deeper understanding of Judaism is in order, but long explanation short, there is power in names. God spoke all of creation into being by words.

      I don't expect you to actually believe anything I just wrote, but you might want to expand your Biblical understanding and theology a bit before throwing out verses you do not grasp fully.

      March 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  17. Chanselor Jenkins

    PeeWee???? You obviosly have not ever seen my Wee!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Jeanine

      I was forstalling the response from Lycidas, whom I refer to as Peewee. I wasn't calling you Peewee. Sorry for the confusion.
      If you are the troll known as Lycidas, then it's all good ...

      March 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Lorien

      a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion

      sounds like a definition of Jeanine.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Lorien: If you would keep a handle for more than a few days without changing it, that would be appreciated.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Why? You don't get onto those that change handles yet the times they post are too close together to be coincidence.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Fine. You're the person that insists that no one is willing, or dare I say capable, to have a discussion with you. Perhaps it has something to do with your split-personality disorder that makes it impossible to maintain a coherent conversation?

      March 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Thank you for not admitting your hypocriscy on this matter.

      And I have not said ppl cannot have a discussion with me and honestly, I don't see what your before comments have to do with it really.

      If people want to have a discussion on the recession and how it effects Churches, well...this is the place for it. If ppl just want to come on here and blabber about atheism then I see no reason I should be more polite than they are.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • SpongeBob

      Changing handles is part of the fun of being here. Let's face it, no serious debate occurs here – debate requires that people be willing to listen and adjust their opinions accordingly if better ideas

      Forums like this are not scholarly debates – they are basically the same as roller derby, lots of sport cruelty and cheap shots, all done for entertainment. Nobody ever changes their opinions or seriously considers what the other person is saying. The smarter people here recognize that and take it for the guilty pleasure that it is; the dumber ones think they are crusading for their righteous cause, while in reality they are getting all worked up while changing nothing. The latter group makes it more fun for the former.

      I think I will be Biggus Dickus next time.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      I'm confused. My hypocrisy? On which point? Are you implying I personally engage in random name changes? I won't argue with you, simply because I have no incontrovertible method to prove you incorrect, but I'd like to know what other names you think I'm using.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Lycidas

      No Sean, I didn't mean you do it. You might for all I know, but what I mean is that you don't also condemn other like Reality that does it. Maybe you just never noticed or maybe you don't do it to those that think closer to you.

      It doesn't really matter of course. Not much on here really does.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Peewee, when you get a clue I will be amazed. Just amazed.
      You assume that coincidence of timestamps equals proof in an anonymous internet blog. That is one of the most retarded things I have ever seen you write.
      Maybe someone has hijacked your name, though. There is no way for me to tell and no way for you to prove it one way or the other without getting technically invasive.
      But then you never have figured things out very well, have you? That's because you rely upon your religion to do that for you.
      Try coming to an independent conclusion sometime.

      If you can. I am pretty doubtful of your abilities. I have to spell out everything for you. That's why you're not worth my time.
      And yes, I'm wasting my time talking to you. I am just passing the time, waiting for someone worth debating....

      March 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "There is no way for me to tell and no way for you to prove it one way or the other without getting technically invasive."

      And so you irrationally accuse ppl of being me on here when they disagree with you. I am afraid you are the delusional one on here my dear.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Lycidas: Oh, it bothers me when Reality does it too. However, I get the impression that Reality isn't too interested in actually discussing anything, so I don't get wracked over trying to figure out which posts are his. Even though I agree with his viewpoint, I consider his posts to be highway billboards: I'm not going to pull over to the shoulder to argue with one.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Lol, ok..fair enough on Reality. He tends to copy/paste a bit too much. It has it's place on occasion but not as much as he uses it.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Chanselor Jenkins

    To Jeanione

    So the insanity of giving to people who have been in an earth quake... you are saying Christians caused the earthquake?

    March 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Chanselor Jenkins, I never said anything like that. You sound like Peewee. Helping people is not insane, religion is, and religious thinking is how many injustices happen and irrational laws and rules get put into play.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Ceri

      Jeanine, i'm afraid you are the delusional one. Injustices, conflict, bigotry etc happen because of PEOPLE, and DESPITE religion. My religion teaches me to love, to share what I have with those in need and treat others at least as well as I would want to be treated. That some PEOPLE choose to pervert religion for THEIR own ends is quite different from religion being responsible. People, including yourself it seems, are just looking for a scapegoat to distract from the fact that humanity, as most faiths teach, is less than perfect.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Ceri, I agree with you on some things, but you are missing a small but essential point: If we are imperfect, then do we not make mistakes as well? Yet you would have me believe that choosing to believe a religious text written by imperfect people could never be a mistake despite all evidence to the contrary!
      When you put a "holy" label on something, it instantly becomes "unquestionable". Why?
      To pervert religion is inevitable, for the texts are not perfect nor is there any proof of god behind them.
      I'm glad you want to be nice, but you don't need a religious text to do so.
      And I'm guessing you follow a religion that has many laws and rules that say to kill and maim, yet you choose to not follow those, cherry-picking your way through the minefield to suit yourself. Most religions are like that.
      Yes, people twist their religions and I am not deluded for coming to that conclusion.
      Yet if it was "untwist-able" that would be a whole different ball of wax, wouldn't it?

      March 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Maryann

      @Jeanine – BRAVO! That was very well explained. Don't expect the brainwashed to understand, though!

      March 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Manolo

      I wanted to respond to poster "Jeanine" about the imperfect works of men comment (to that effect), but I sheepishly admit that I've lost my place in this board!

      March 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Ceri

      @ Jeanine, no, again it is you making a fundamental error or assumption.I don't hold things to be unquestionable, I encourage people to make decisions for themselves, I have no problem with that AT ALL. Clearly, though, with your "religions are insane" comment, you do not want to allow people the same freedom – you have judged and your decision is final it seems – such is arrogance and bigotry. You also missed the point about 'being kind' (why am I not surprised). NOWHERE did I say that you have to be religious to be kind or nice or loving or whatever. What I said is that that is what my religion encourages me to be – but you want to portray my religion as hateful and destructive, which is just silly. My religion does have a certain amount of 'rules', but as Jesus made quite clear, they are all subservient to two 'greater rules': love God and love others as much as you love yourself. So tell me how any faith that has those as their primary teachings can lead to injustices and hate? If everyone loved others as much as they loved themselves, what a Heavenly place this would be. But I guess you prefer a world of division and intolerance – enjoy!

      March 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Ceri, yes, I see I did make an assumption or two there. Sorry to have misunderstood what you were trying to say.

      How ironic that this sort of mistake is all too common when using the English language.
      Using languages subject to different interpretations is part of the problem.
      We flail around trying to communicate and end up misunderstanding all too easily. Sound familiar?

      As for those two "commandments" of Jesus, the second one is more to the point. Worshiping your god is the first one, yes?
      The second one isn't very helpful when it comes to all the different ways humans exist and interact. People can be sadistic and masochistic, so "treating others the way you want to be treated" is rather stupidly put considering how people can be.

      As for those two rules that you say trump all others: ..if they trump all others then why do Christians constantly violate them when following their own interpretations of the OT rules? Maybe they didn't get your memo or something. (I hate it when papers fall behind my desk)

      I seek a world where all people are nice to each other, but I'm talking about all of humanity while you sound like you're only talking about people who share your religious beliefs. But maybe I'm misunderstanding you again.

      If you hate rational thinking, then we'd better give up this pretense of calling ourselves rational human beings and start carving religious weapons out of wood. Your god hates a lot of stuff, remember? Jesus may have been nice, but his dad is in charge according to the Bible.

      The problem is the words, and the religion is based on the words, and you are just one person using your one interpretation of your easily twisted religion. Some Christians use those two rules of Jesus to justify killing others. Is that where you want to go?

      Why should I tolerate lies, anyway? Do you like lying? I don't.
      If you use someone else's lies through no fault of your own to do things you don't think are bad (due to those lies), then why should I expect anything but the worst from people similar to you?

      You don't see the skewed and twisted logic that you are using at some level in your thinking?
      I just want stuff to make sense. If I misunderstand you then you might not make any sense to me. Yet you might say your god did this to us. Why? You can look that one up in your bible. Tower of Babel.
      Language again. Used to worship without question something that no one can prove exists. Not even with secondary phenomena no matter what religion we're talking about. No proof anywhere. A mystery with an obvious answer.

      March 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  19. Ranger 1

    You got that right Chanselor

    March 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  20. Mom

    I am the trustee of a Methodist church and our contributions are up, but not where they need to be to support our programs. Despite what all the hateful types say, we use our money for good. We have a food bank, and give money to people for groceries. We pay peoples electric bills or water bills. We fix cars so people can go to work, and pay for hotel rooms for families traveling through our town to the next job. We also buy backpacks and fill them with school supplies so that every kid in our county has the school supplies they need. We also send money to Haiti and other places in need. We buy mosquito nets and send them to Africa. So, despite the hateful remarks on CNN, a lot of churches do a lot of good for many people, and we are tiny little town in one of the most poverty stricken places in the U.S.

    March 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Jeanine

      You are like a fireman who secretly goes around starting fires. Your insanity causes much of what is behind all the suffering.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Frank

      I agree with you. What I have found is that people that post are usually radical atheists and the ones that believe in giving are usually quiet about it and that is not a bad thing.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Ranger 1

      And you are not doing that with your comment?

      March 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Mom

      Well, if we started a fire Jeanine, we would put it out. Don't be critical of people you don't even know. I guess you would prefer that we let the poor starve to death, but we won't do that. If you came to us for help we would help you too!

      March 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Michael

      NO.......YOU are not doing all these things. The taxpayers are.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Frank

      Jeanine and Ranger1 - You prove my point.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Hi Mom. I can definitely agree with you. All it takes is needing a couple of major building repairs (like the roof and the boiler) and there goes the monies that are supposed to support the mission shares!

      March 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Trib

      Believe it or not, people can help the poor and the homeless WITHOUT going through the church to do it. Non-Christians (including Atheists) volunteer for food banks and soup kitchens. Many spend their Sundays actively working to help out those less fortunate. Some people believe in being good for goodness sake, not because some "benevolent", mythological figure has threatened them with eternal punishment.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • yes but...

      while it's nice that you buy lots of stuff for people, do you teach people the truth regarding the Kingdom of God?

      March 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Huh

      Churches should be taxed like everyone else.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jugger

      I believe that alot of the smaller churches do contribute and donate to worthy causes. It's the big churches that bother me so much. I recently went to a Catholic wedding ceremony, there was more gold, art, statues, etc... than I've seen at museums. You can't tell me that they are giving all they can to the community (especially when the priest was driving a $50k SUV).

      March 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Ranger 1

      No problem Frank, you need to have something to feel good about today. Might as well be being critical of those posting on comment boards.

      But onto the subject of this thread, it makes sense that donations are evening out on different levels. One is that people are more accustomed to their station in life and can give accordingly. The other could be that more people are attending church functions due to not having the spare cash for trips and other outings.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • everteta

      @Trib. You're right, but don't belittle us because we do it because of our faith.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Trib

      My help comes with no strings attached and no unnecessary preachiness. Actually, discussion of religious beliefs is not something that is high on the priority list of most homeless, hungry people.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Out of curiousity Mom, what percentage of your income goes to those programs? How much goes to salaries and other "administration" expenses?

      I ask because many "charities" have taken in large sums of money but only tiny percentages ever actually got to the need it was intended to fill, while administrators got fat paychecks and had great parties and travel. Many churches do this as well, humbly bragging about their great philanthropic programs as they buy enormous churches and have lavish lifestyles.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Trib

      I'm not belittling you for doing it in the name of your faith, I'm belittling the assumptions that all people who choose not to share your beliefs are selfish and non-giving. My point: One does not have to believe in God in order to feel the need to help out those less fortunate.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Thanks Mom for making more sense than I was expecting. I apologize for being so nasty.

      That we need to stop insanity and suffering was my primary motive for the attack. I see so much suffering caused by religious beliefs that it is often hard to keep my cool. I do appreciate the help you give to people, but what caused them to need help in the first place? (other than natural events like earthquakes, etc.).

      Humans do bad things as a matter of course, but when you add irrational motivations caused by religious delusion, then it becomes a monstrous problem, if only because those who refuse to listen due to indoctrination make it near impossible to put solutions into play.
      In my opinion, religion makes things so much worse than if there was no religion. That people use religion for comforting others does not negate the fact that there are other, more rational, ways to help and comfort people unconnected with religious agendas.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I respectfully disagree Jeanine because deep down ppl are base creatures that needs some sort of outside force to encourage compassion. I'm not even meaning in a spiritual sense in this case. Ppl throughout history need a form of community beyond everyday life that shakes them up to see beyond the everyday. For some that is a Church or Synagogue...for others it could be Greenpeace, Red Cross or Relay for Life.

      March 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mom

      We don't preach at the people we give to, we just give. Most of the time they don't even know where it came from. If they choose to come to our church and become members that is fine, but we never push. Our expenses are about 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3. 1/3 for pastor and staff who provide services like weddings, funerals, visiting the sick and people in jail with no additional fees for those services charged. 1/3 for the keeping the building open, and paying utility bills (insurance is a huge bill) , and 1/3 to the poor. We also have other money that goes to the poor that is never run through the church budget, so it isn't counted. All of this is payed for by tax payers, and even though many claim their donations, I know quite a few who don't believe in that, and only pay in cash, and never claim their donations to the church on their income taxes.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • michelle bryant

      Our pastor uses our money to take trips to the religious headquarters and live in a hotel and pays a thousand dollars at the meeting so that we (he) can feel good about paying the most money. then we have a fund raiser every sunday and then when he visits other churches he wants us to go and pay 20.00 a piece every time. then he want each member to give him 100.00 a year for his anniversary and give his wife some money for her appreciation. We are paying for a chuch that seat 285 members and we only have about 45 members any ideas about what we are doing here?

      March 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Mom

      @ michelle bryant-so why do you allow that? Our pastor doesn't get to decide where any of the money goes. He is paid by us, so we tell him what to do.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Me

      Isn't that considered, do I dare say, Socialism??

      March 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Gloria

      I am a non practicing Methodist. What you say is true. Do not be discouraged. I often have people from different countries with no God and no religion stay at my home. They are very much like us. They have values, compassion and good hearts for others. Some people posting here, claiming to be Atheists are not genuine. Good Atheists are good people. Moreover Mom, religion has to be relevant. Keep serving humanity and may God bless you.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Lycidas – then make community your religion and not the twisted words written by other "base" creatures.
      Without other people in the world, there would be no need for compassion. If you would have compassion for others, then why not express that compassion in the most effective and rational way possible?

      You worship what those ancient "base creatures" wrote by way of religious text, do you not?
      Yet you see no dichotomy in this. Your ignorance is one of the things I fight against, if you hadn't noticed.
      When I hate the lies you believe, you assume that I hate you, yet this is not so.
      I hate what those lies do to you, and I am left with few options as to correcting the situation.
      Your failure to see the essential failures of your religious beliefs make you a threat to all people around you regardless of your compassion for them, for your "god" can merely command you to kill them and you would probably do it.
      History proves me right, I think. Your god does not post in these blogs nor does he say anything to anyone. Where is the compassion in that? Keeping people ignorant of his desires is not logical. Your religious texts do not address these issues.

      March 30, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "then make community your religion"

      That sends a shudder through me. Sorry, the shadow of such villains like the NSDAP who might have used such wording causes me concern.

      No where in my writings did I say I don't have compassion. What I did say is that some ppl need organizations like Church to promote and encourage such consepts like compassion.

      No, I do not worship what those ancient said. I worship what I have come to believe. There is a difference. I don't worship God because of what Amos wrote no more than you believe in evolution because of what Darwin wrote. Hopefully we decide for ourselves instead of letting others make our decisions for us.

      "Your failure to see the essential failures of your religious beliefs make you a threat to all people around you regardless of your compassion for them, for your "god" can merely command you to kill them and you would probably do it."

      Straight up, if you believe that, you are delusional indeed.

      You'll forgive me if I don't agree with your thoughts on history.

      March 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Anthony

      Lycidas you do know that cnn doesn't have spell check right? It's funny how you have criticize others for that same thing.

      March 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Tony- Have I gotten onto someone for goofing up some spelling on here? I think you are getting me confused with someone else. We are guilty of it from time to time.

      March 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jeanine

      So you think that having universal compassion and concern for all of humanity is somehow Nazi-ish just because they used to tie their nationalism to religious racism?

      I would shudder too at the ease with which people are fooled into doing insane things, but universal compassion isn't all that insane, I would have thought.
      Maybe you have a different view of who deserves compassion? Like everyone but atheists or something?

      Under what circ.umstances would it be okay for someone else to lie about your god? And how would you be able to determine whether they lied or not?

      And if you thought Jesus was telling you to kill someone, would you do it? Just because it felt "good and holy" to obey your god regardless of what was commanded?

      March 30, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Jeanine- Compassion is never a bad thing, but when it has to do with putting the community at such a high standard I have concerns. One reason is when one "worships" the community or the nation at a higher level for the benefit of mankind it seems that the bad comes out fast. I've never known a successful society that had a secular component that took the place of a religious component.

      "Under what circ.umstances would it be okay for someone else to lie about your god? And how would you be able to determine whether they lied or not?"

      Well, it's never ok to lie and I would be just like you, rely on my life experiences and what I have learned.

      "And if you thought Jesus was telling you to kill someone, would you do it?"

      Don't have to worry about that because (1) I would never go out to murder someone (2) Jesus would not tell me to kill anyone. There is no basis for such a thing to ever happen.

      March 30, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Lycidas, I guess I didn't make myself clear enough. Sorry. I'm not suggesting that we all actually worship some community or social structure. That would indeed be heading for disaster.

      I meant that if you want to focus on compassion for your fellow human beings, you must needs have compassion for all without exception.
      Humanity must be the group that you have compassion for, or you make a mockery of compassion as an ideal or goal.

      As for Jesus telling you to kill somebody, have you ever read the Book of Revelation? A river of blood has to come from somewhere. Did you think Jesus was just going to wave his hand and all his enemies would instantly die or something?

      As for lying in a religious setting, you say you'd have to rely on your own senses and experiences, etc.. But what about someone who lies about your god? Who says "God says to do this" when they are just making it up?
      You would, I believe, have no way of determining whether that person was lying or not and that, due to your religious bias, would tend to believe the liar rather than conduct the sort of proper review that would reveal the truth of the matter.

      And I will maintain that this is what has happened in every religion. Liars not being found out, but who were totally believed and never doubted due to religious bias....and the fact that "faith" requires no proof in much the same way that religious speakers are never doubted by the people who hang on every word.
      Liars who are never doubted are completely worthless in terms of reliable information. Even someone who swears on god or whatever is not always going to be telling the truth. Cops who do this call it "testa-lying". They've done it so often they have a special word to describe it with!!
      So who deserves respect? The liars, the ones who believed them without question, or the lie itself?

      March 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Steve, the real one

      You are like a fireman who secretly goes around starting fires. Your insanity causes much of what is behind all the suffering.
      You know this how? Please explain. Never mind the explaination. I already know! Bias and ignorance!

      March 31, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Lycidas

      "I meant that if you want to focus on compassion for your fellow human beings, you must needs have compassion for all without exception."

      My faith fully supports that point of view.

      "As for Jesus telling you to kill somebody, have you ever read the Book of Revelation? A river of blood has to come from somewhere. Did you think Jesus was just going to wave his hand and all his enemies would instantly die or something?"

      If you read the whole book you will note that none of Jesus's followers kill anyone. In fact, the section you are referring to talks about a battle that seems to completely lack any Christians in it. At least, they are not mentioned. BTW, the valley in question is mega huge. From Mt. Carmel you can look for a huge distance till the other side.

      "But what about someone who lies about your god?"

      From a spiritual stance, then it would fall on them.

      "due to your religious bias, would tend to believe the liar rather than conduct the sort of proper review that would reveal the truth of the matter."

      You assume bias where there is none. I am harder on my fellow believers than non-believers. Take the situations within the Catholic community with their priests. I have always felt there should be an independant review of what happened in those cases. Same goes for evangelical churches that swindel money and such.

      "So who deserves respect? The liars, the ones who believed them without question, or the lie itself?" The truth.

      March 31, 2011 at 3:55 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.