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May 8th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

In the heart of tornado-ravaged Bama Nation, a new battle cry: ‘Let go! Let God!’

By Wayne Drash, CNN

Tuscaloosa, Alabama (CNN) – The Rev. Kelvin Croom walks down the hall toward the sanctuary his father built 30 years ago with the help of legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

“Just glad to be alive,” a deacon says.

“I know what you mean,” Croom responds.

With its painted cement block walls and low ceilings, the hall has the feel of a locker room corridor. In rooms off the hall, church members rummage through debris, trying to salvage anything they can. Windows shattered when the tornado hit. The roof of the fellowship hall upstairs blew off and crashed into nearby homes.

On Easter Sunday, three days before the tornado struck, Croom preached of salvation, of the need to rebuild one’s life, of finding hope even in times of desperation. The rejoicing and the stomps of feet had the pews bouncing.

The place oozed with love. So many people packed the church they literally filled the building to its rafters, with people standing all the way upstairs in the fellowship hall.

Back in the church for the first time since that service, Croom steps through the doorway into that sacred spot, the sanctuary of College Hill Baptist Church. His voice draws to a hush. The crimson carpet, the pews with their crimson cushions, the stained glass windows – everything is untouched.

“In here, you’d have no idea anything happened,” he marvels.

On April 27, a mile-wide tornado tore through Tuscaloosa, one of nearly 200 twisters to strike the South as part of a record storm. Hundreds died, including dozens in this college town – many of whom lived in the area known as Alberta City where College Hill Baptist sits.

The church lies at the center of the damage, as well as at the crossroads of faith, football and Alabama history. In a community where gospel and gridiron are interwoven like a hand-stitched Southern quilt, it all comes together at College Hill Baptist.

The Rev. Kelvin Croom tells his congregation, "We will rebuild!"

The building speaks of history, of a unique bond between two men – one white, one black – at a time when there were few such relationships. While Bryant is revered like no other, it’s Croom’s father, the late Rev. Sylvester Croom Sr., who stands as a pillar of the African-American community in this part of the state.

As a young man, the elder Croom couldn’t attend his hometown college. He couldn’t even step foot into the University of Alabama stadium. He’d stand outside the gate to watch games.

Eventually, though, he became spiritual adviser to Bryant and two other Crimson Tide coaches. He would come to grace the sidelines for years, decked out in his iconic white suit and crimson cowboy hat and boots.

When the elder Croom was starting the church in the 1970s, Bryant gave him a PA system. He gave the pastor money, too, sometimes thousands in cash, sometimes hundreds. “Whatever Dad needed,” Kelvin Croom says.

“He and my dad had a very unique relationship.”

Kelvin and his brother, Sylvester Jr., were among the first African-American football players at Alabama.

And when Gov. George Wallace apologized to Tuscaloosa’s African-American community for his staunch support of segregation and for barring blacks from entering the university, he came to the Croom family. “Will you forgive me?” Wallace asked.

Today, Kelvin Croom surveys the damage outside the church. The parking lot is littered with lumber strewn from homes, roofing tiles and other debris. With the second story gone, he’s not sure the building can be salvaged, even if the sanctuary is OK.

Behind him, a smashed church sign leans to the side, almost like a crooked cross. Two plaques remain intact: one honoring Bryant; the other honoring the elder Croom.

A portrait of the elder Croom survived the tornado.

“We were taught by my dad and we were taught by Coach Bryant, when situations come into your life, obstacles come, then you have to be strong,” Croom says.

“We have to let go what we’re tasting. This is a bitter pill, but God does have his way of resurrecting us. Yeah, we’re hurt … but we can rebuild and come back.”

Last year, his church made green T-shirts with a slogan in the form of a cross: “Let go! Let God!”

“We’ve been wearing the shirts. Now, we gotta live it,” he says. “Now that we have to deal with this calamity, you put aside racial barriers, religious and political. We’re one people. We’re Alabamians.”

He gives a soft holler: “Roll Tide,” the beloved chant of Alabama fans.

“It’s become more than a sports theme,” he says. “It’s a bond between people who have a common interest in humanity, who believe in a democracy, who believe in a higher power. It’s a nation. We call it Bama Nation.”

Across the state, people are mourning. The loss of life and property is indescribable. Thousands of houses across Tuscaloosa alone are damaged or destroyed. Scores of people remain missing.

Faith and football won’t replace the utter destruction that has shaken so many lives here. Yet it’s what people cling to. Conversations with those whose homes were destroyed often end with “Roll Tide.”

Last year the church made "Let go! Let God!" T-shirts. "We’ve been wearing the shirts. Now, we gotta live it," Croom says.

In the fall, they say, the sanctuary on Saturdays is Bryant-Denny Stadium, where more than 100,000 fans gather in the heart of campus to cheer for the Crimson Tide. On Sundays, the place of worship is any of the hundreds of churches throughout this thick Bible Belt region where Saturday’s chants are replaced by prayers and gospels.

It’s why a chemistry professor from Germany says, “The holy man in Alabama is not the pope. It’s Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.” Outside Croom’s torn up church, a military policeman put aside his allegiance to cross-state rival Auburn University to protect the property from looters.

“I’m an Auburn fan,” says Sgt. Casey Chambers, “but above that I’m a true Alabamian.”

A handgun at his hip, Chambers says through a big grin, “I’m protecting y’all.”

'How we come together'

Terry Jones is the legendary noseguard who played for the Crimson Tide in the mid-1970s and went on to play for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.

Now a strength coach at Alabama, Jones was in the team’s practice facility when the tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa. An announcement came over the PA system for everyone to take cover.

He rounded the corner into his office. On his wall, Bear Bryant looked down. Jones stared back at the man who shaped his life, one of five mentors who molded him.

“Where you thinking of going to school?” Bryant had asked him on a recruiting trip.

“South Carolina,” Jones told him.

Bad choice, Bryant said. “All you’ll do is play football, and you’ll lose all your games. What’s your second choice?”

When Jones responded with the University of Tennessee, Bryant leaned over. “You can go there,” the coach said, “but we’re going to kick your ass every year.”

Alabama strength coach and former NFL star Terry Jones weathered the storm at the Crimson Tide’s practice facility.

Jones became an All-American playing for Bryant. Yet, he says, he also owes much of his success to another man: the elder Rev. Croom.

Jones, who started playing for Alabama in 1974, remembered a story he heard from his older teammates. In 1973, the Crimson Tide was about to play Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. The black players for both schools planned to sit out the game to send a civil rights statement across the nation.

Bryant phoned his spiritual adviser: Get to New Orleans and mediate the situation. The Rev. Sylvester Croom gathered the athletes.

“This is an opportunity for you to showcase your talents and get to the next level, the NFL. Don’t jeopardize that,” the elder Croom said. “You’re the pride of the black community. Don’t let us down!”

Everyone suited up. The game went on. (Alabama fans don’t like to talk about the outcome; the Crimson Tide lost 24-23 on a field goal in the last five minutes, but the team still won the national title that year.)

All that went through Jones’ mind as he hunkered down in his office, the storm overhead. The 6-4, 320-pound giant owed his life to both those men. If the elder Croom hadn’t given that speech to the black players who preceded him, his career could have been over before it started. If Bryant hadn’t switched him to noseguard his senior year, he might never have starred with the Packers.

Bryant made his players attend church. He ingrained it in them: Football and faith help shape a boy into a man. Jones now serves as a deacon at College Hill Baptist Church.

Legendary Alabama football coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant mentored Jones and helped the elder Croom start his church.

In his office that day, he reflected on a quote from Bryant: “If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards.”

Life has been good to him, thought Jones, a small-town boy from Sandersville, Georgia, who broke racial barriers and crushed many a lineman along the way.

Jones braced for the worst. The wind whipped outside. The tornado missed his building.

“Every Saturday, I’ve seen how we come together – the football and the religion,” he says. “This storm, I think, brought everything together right here.”

Sermons in the barber chair

Clee Greene no longer walks with that pep in his step from when he first arrived in Tuscaloosa in 1960. He got off the back of the bus from Louisiana with a “dollar and quarter” in his pocket and has never looked back.

He’s now got a bridge named after him in Alberta City.

While Bryant brought black players to Tuscaloosa to play football, it was Greene who helped shape them into men. The barber on the other side of the railroad tracks would sit the young kids in his chair and preach to them about life and love, God and unity.

Clee Greene was barber and counselor to nearly every black University of Alabama football player for decades.

Nearly every black football player from the 1970s through the 1990s, from Terry Jones to NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas, sought haircuts and counseling from him. At 73, he remains a father figure to Jones. “If you got nothing to do, you just go to Clee’s,” Jones says outside the shop. “He’s an institution.”

A pious man with veins that bleed Crimson Tide and Bible scripture, Greene says the tornado looked like the devil when it came through. “It began to make a tail,” he says in an accent as thick as sorghum. “It went up in the air, like it had arms and shoulders.”

Electricity poles snapped with gigantic flashes. The tornado screamed, and his house shook. “A train is coming in,” his granddaughter said as they huddled in a hallway.

“That’s not a train,” he told her.

Remarkably, his house is one of the few in Alberta City that wasn’t harmed. He runs his barbershop out of his house. He gives away more haircuts than he sells.

Sitting in his barber chair amid Crimson Tide memorabilia, he says God is trying to send a message with the tornado: “He wants us to get back to loving each other.”

It’s kind of like football, he says: “You got to dig down deep inside yourself and pull yourself up.”

What sustains him now amid such destruction?

Faith for one, he says.

The other? Well, Greene decides to demonstrate. He leaps from his barber chair and searches through his belongings. He pulls out a stuffed elephant, the Alabama mascot known as Big Al.

Terry Jones, left, and Clee Greene belt out the chant of Crimson Tide fans.

He presses a button. The elephant grinds its hips to the tune of the Alabama fight song. Greene places his nose to his shoulder and throws his arm into the air, like it’s an elephant trunk.

With Terry Jones at his side, Greene begins to belt out that iconic chant. The legendary noseguard joins in: ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TIDE ROLL!

'We will rebuild'

Standing at the altar on the Sunday after the storm, Croom dabs the sweat from his brow with a white coach’s towel. Dozens in his flock lost their homes when the tornado gutted Tuscaloosa. Many lost friends and loved ones.

Tears and hugs, singing and rejoicing punctuate the service. The University Church of Christ volunteered space for members of College Hill Baptist to worship.

“Just tell somebody I need you to survive,” he preaches. “Tell the person next to you: I pray for you; you pray for me.”

The congregants pause. They share hugs and pleasantries. “Our community has been devastated, but God still lives,” Croom says.

The pastor calls everyone to the altar. More than 200 people huddle together. Some place hands on shoulders; others hold hands.

“Some of us looked death in the face. Some of us thought it was over in the storm. But God gave us new life,” Croom says. “The flock will not be scattered because of this storm. College Hill still stands. We’re here today!”

“Some will say the church is over there,” Croom booms, pointing toward the tattered building across town.

He then points at members of the congregation: “No, the church is where you go! And you go! And you go! … That’s where the church is!”

Kelvin Croom walks down the hall of his church; many members of his congregation lost friends and loved ones.

He preaches for more than an hour. A woman sings "Amazing Grace":

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Croom implores the congregation to volunteer, to help thy neighbor. The church was planning a complete renovation before the storm. Maybe, Croom says, the tornado is a warning to be careful what you ask for. Now, they have no choice but to rebuild.

“Lord, I will serve you forever,” Croom hollers. “We will rebuild! We will rebuild! God bless you! God bless you!”

And in true Alabama fashion, he ends with the two words that have brought people here together for decades: “Roll Tide!”

CNN’s Sarah Hoye contributed to this piece.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Alabama • Baptist • Belief • Church • God • Houses of worship • Pastors • Prayer

soundoff (600 Responses)
  1. RSH

    Interesting how "faith, football" are used next to each other in this article. Neither is compatible with an independent freethinker. Conservatives are bound by peer pressure and must all worship the same, play the same game, and believe the same political fabrications. Simple-minded people cannot think for themselves.

    May 8, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  2. jt512tr@hotmail.com

    Faith is just a word describing something you can't prove. If God is so loving and so powerful why did it allow this to happen in the first place.

    May 8, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  3. s kel

    terry I know your just a small minded uninportant ignorant little bigot, but i'll temporary lower myself to the trash level and answer what you wrote. God hates racists spewing hate in His name! So what ever false god that you belive in ,may it personally DESTROY & DOOM BOTH YOU & YOUR IMBREADED FAMILY . Thank u.

    May 8, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  4. Bob Rock

    We need to start viewing all religions for what they are – delusional insanity. We need to take a hard stance towards it. We have been soft – and the ever escalating terrorist acts and religious conflicts are the end result. Time to get rational for a change – and a chance to survive the next couple of hundred years!

    May 8, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • ILoveGod

      What's insane is that as a NON BELIEVER you are wasting your time in the BELIEF section. Not too smart, are you?

      May 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • R&H

      200 years 1000 years , whatever that maybe before the end, God is Always the Most Merciful He lives forever, He is the King over everything and the Most Just over His Kingdom and when we wake up from our death we have to pay for our faith and deeds or be recompensed for them wich way do you choose. Its all up to you and you know that , so don't blame anyone else for the choice you make thinking of all possible consequences. So try to know Him.

      May 9, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  5. zaglossus

    Football like faith? Oh c'mon, if true, these folks are yahoos.

    May 8, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  6. asuga

    ROLL TIDE !

    May 8, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Jesus

      I remember well when people of color couldn't come on campus, sit in the stands next to whites, or play on the field. Momuments honoring those icons of segregation still exist all over "Bama. Those people of color have no concept or knowledge of history. Back in the 1850s the Bible was quoted again and again by southern senators to justify SLAVERY (see Exodus 21 & 22)...."it was God's will". The people depicted in this piece are woefully mising facts! ROLL TIDE? Roll where?

      May 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Josh

    Let the people of the community grieve, come together, and rebuild as they choose. For it is not our position to judge. Whatever gets you through any tragedy is a blessing in itself. The people that get on here and bash others and their beliefs are cowardly fools that make me sick. I hope for a speedy recovery for all affected by these storms.
    GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

    May 8, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  8. PrncssGeek

    All these comments attacking these people for leaning on their religion just make me want to throw up. I'm a pagan, have been all my life. And I refuse to throw stones at someone for their religion. That has been done to me all my life by everyone else. These people NEED something to believe in. They have lost their homes, their loved ones, and a way of life. Most were poor before this happened and now they are jobless and homeless. Instead of attacking them for leaning on religion to get through this horrible mess why not get off your butts and get down there and lend a hand. I have and will continue to do so until they no longer need my help.

    Those of you attacking their religion and them leaning on it, I really hope you don't claim to be pagan because that's one thing we NORMALLY refuse to do. HARM NONE.

    For those who don't understand what football has to do with it....football in the south is a way of life. It's how you connect with your neighbors. It's how you connect with your kids. It brings families together, it brings cities together, it brings states together. Alabama students helped Auburn when the great oaks were poisoned, now Auburn students and Alum are helping out the states hit by the storms.

    Stop hating, THAT is what truly sux about America...all the hating.

    May 8, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Dutch

      I live in Tuscaloosa and just wanted to say great post, thank you for helping us out!! Our city has pulled together with brotherly love like nothing I've seen. Religion/race/social class do not matter, people are helping people and that is the whole message Christ taught in the first place.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Bob Rock

      There's no hating, just get your head screwed on right. You have a much better chance of rebuilding your life if it's based on reality instead of delusions.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • YBP

      If you're going to throw up, you'd better open a window and let in some fresh air.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • pat carr

      LOL!!! what a sap. demanding respect for a belief system that doesn't respect yours one bit. Do you know how christianity feels about paganism? Do you need me to tell you?

      May 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • rachel

      We don't like it, and we intend to show how mad it truly is.

      May 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • PrncssGeek

      Really? Do you think I don't know how Christianity feels about Pagainism? Did you NOT read my post. That's part of being the bigger person.

      Dutch, no thanks are ever needed. I would want my fellow humans to do the same for me. Not because I was a Christian, a Pagan, went to Auburn, went to Alabama, or whatever, but because I was a human in need. 🙂 It's what love and kindness are about. 🙂

      May 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  9. Charlemagne

    If you put a crab in a bucket, he can crawl out. But if you put two crabs in a bucket, the other crab will always pull down the crab trying to escape.

    So it is with athiests. It is not enough that their lives have no hope. They have to pull others down too.

    In arrogance, they insist on reality being limited to what they can understand by intellect and then criticize other people who understand something they don't. We refer to them as "lost" because we were also once "lost" but there is hope for them too. If we have experienced God by His lovingly revealing Himself, His purposes and His ways to us, we know He can do that for them too!

    I've seen what God has done in my life and I have no doubt He is real and He is love. It is a confirmed reality that I have experienced – and that I share with the people in this story.

    To challenge what we know to be true is to insist that reality is limited to what you know and can confirm intellectually and to invalidate something you don't understand. In order to defend your dependence upon your own intellectual understanding, you must stereotype others as stupid or deluded in much the same way as racists stereotype on the basis of race. In doing so, you can continue the defense of your limited understanding. That is why athiests are antagonistic toward faith.

    That makes them the second crab in the bucket.

    May 8, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Nonsense. The only thing the atheists believe in is reason and logic. You believe in nonsense, and we need to point that out. There's nothing malicious about it.

      By the way, you don't have any inside knowledge about or from your god either (no surprise here). That's why you people keep saying that "god works in mysterious ways".

      May 8, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • zaglossus

      Religion is something that belongs to the childhood of the species and, like toys and the tooth fairy, should be put aside. If the commenter who disdains atheists would study David Hume, Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud he would understand that religion is a delusion of wishful thinking.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Actually, Charlemagne, it's the other way around...

      To correct your thesis: "So it is with people who run their lives according to ancient fairy tales. It is not enough that their lives make no sense, they have to pull others down too."

      We've seen what "Gods" have done during the course of history: endless conflict between various forms of mass delusion.

      Religion is, quite simply, a fraud. If you're a follower, then you're either a victim of this fraud or a perpetrator.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • BG

      Take both crabs out of the bucket,
      submerge in boiling water with a dash of Old Bay and chili powder,
      boil until they change color,
      remove, allow to cool
      smash with small wooden mallet

      Enjoy 😆

      May 8, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • YBP

      The real 'arrogance' (to use your word) is that you so-called believers take the high road in this debate. Are you kidding? I'd be willing to bet that you do not know anything about what your church believes or where those beliefs came from. I do. That's why I do not believe. You say that we atheists are arrogant...while you try to force your fairy tales down our throats and into our government? I'd rather be arrogant than ignorant.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • pat carr

      Thank you. keep writing arrogant posts like this. Then go ahead and demand "Respect" for your belief and show the world what evil you believe

      May 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • rachel

      We like reasonable people to deal with. End of story. Religion, not matter how it's dressed up is irrational and divisive.

      May 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • JamminCanadian

      Very true. Sometimes I forget that they simply can't see beyond their physical sences. Their inability to discern and experience things of a spiritual nature is why their lives are so wretched, and misery loves company.

      May 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  10. rider

    Flood in Tenn. last year and obama sends Billions to Pakistan. Eastern US raveged by Tornadoes obama sends money to China. Unemmployment at 9 percent and obama is costing tax payers Billions for the lose on GM. Cash for clunders was a flop and drove up metal cost. When is obama going to start taking care of the US. google crotch salute and see what obama thinks about our Military....google Ted Poe and watch his You Tube on Foreign Aid. OMG........

    May 8, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Robyn(813)

      OMG what did bush ?where were u when this idiot was messin up the damn world for 8 years? i say good now everybody know what its like to suffer now white people cryin broke boohoo!!!

      May 8, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Soporifix

      GOP troll

      May 8, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  11. pop

    CNN need to stop with RELIGION NONSENSE. I hope this isn't Christian Monitor Science article. This article does not show positive views. I have seen non-chrisitan to other social norm people committed greed, lie, cheat, steal.... It's just too much.

    May 8, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  12. rosa, b'ham al

    I've lived in Alabama for about 10 years now and I still can't figure out what football has to do with anything. It's a GAME folks!

    May 8, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • census

      @rosa...I bet you were less than 1 year old when you live in Alabama. It's pretty obvious.

      May 8, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • YBP

      I can't even fathom telling people that I am from Alabama.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Soporifix

      Football, God - it's all "faith" in something meaningless. Much easier than actually thinking.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  13. Schmit

    I find it so odd how the atheists must come and bash every single article written in the belief section. It's not well enough to just let believers be believers? To allow a free man/woman to exercise their freewill and choose to believe in something without having the need to bash it?

    Everyone has faith in something, it's just the object of the person's faith that is different. A believer believes in a higher power called God. An atheist believes they are the highest power, a god. Heck, how many atheists out there believe in aliens? lol. Can't see it.. can't touch it.. but believe in it because "it makes sense." That's also faith. It's just the object of the faith that differs...

    Idk.. I just see all of these atheists coming out and bashing someone's else belief. These are your fellow humans, fellow americans.. no compassion.. no love.. no understanding.. no kindness.. Nothing but rude, crude behavior.

    I gotta say, the behaviors of atheists build my faith in the existence of God because they are literally proving that the bible is true. Their actions and speak are living proof and factual evidence right before my eyes.. The bible says how they act, how they speak, etc. How can that be if it's fake? Thousands of years earlier...scripture is written.. speaking about you. Lovers of selves.

    Your ways, your thoughts, your emotions, your ideals... they are bowed down to. With utter disregard towards any moral governance.. any ethics.. etc. Instead of just letting someone be... you hide behind a keyboard and blast out. Things that are said that would NEVER be said in front of your mom or dad.. in front of your grandma/grandpa. WHY IS THAT? Because in those moments, you are bowing down to the moral governance. At that time, you are not choosing to be a lover of self, self-centered, and place the selfish ideals/emotins as the god in your life... At that time, you are choosing a moral governance that every single man and woman has in them. The right action vs the wrong action. Or... you're still a lover of self and you are too embarrassed to show your true colors in front of those close family members. So maybe it isn't bowing down to the moral governance, but still bowing down to self. Worried about what others will think of you if they really saw that man behind the curtain.. Lovers of self.

    It's all about you... and when "you" fails.. Well hey, there's a pill and counselor for that.. You can take a fake pill and go to a worldly counselor... only to watch the bandaid fall off (again). You can go buy things to make you happy.. Find people to make you happy.. and when the bandaid falls off again.. you're still naked and empty. Or, you can take the real Pill and see the real Counselor...

    May 8, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Colin

      Your basic theme, that atheists are immoral and self-absorbed is generally not true. One does not have to believe in Jesus Christ and the Christian god in order to be moral. There are millions of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Jews, Mulsims, agnostics and atheists whose moral code is every bitt as developed as that of the Christians. It is small minded and parochial to think otherwise.

      In terms of self-absorbtion, we atheists believe we live and dies and that's it. Christians believe they will live happily ever after in heaven and that, if they pary the creator of the universe will hear them and act on their behalf. Who sounds more self absorbed to you?

      May 8, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Jesus

      YOU Schmit are an atheist too! You don't believe in Gods of all other faiths – the Hindu, Muslim, Shinto, etc Gods. You reject them as do I. The only difference between us is that I go one step further. I reject your Christian 1st century bronze age nonsense (i.e. the Bibles). So we are much more alike than different.

      May 8, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • William

      What a shockingly inane viewpoint on atheists. Let me get this straight, your faith in a fictional book is proven or strengthened by rational arguments against the existence of your god? Point well taken, you will believe anything whether it's based on evidence or not. Awesome. Be proud

      May 8, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • myklds

      @Jesus.. Yes, we don't believe in their God but we 'respect" their belief. That separate us Christians from you Atheists.

      May 8, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • William

      My kids- I respect your right to believe. I just can't respect what you believe. I suppose you supported people's right to be branch davidians in Waco?

      May 8, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Don

      Know what rude is, Schmit? Rude is demanding that your religion be elevated above all others by a government. THAT is rude. Rude is demanding a National Day of (Christian) Prayer to make yourself feel better. THAT is rude.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • zaglossus

      Folks who write long emails like this are usually nuts. At least they have a delusion of grandeur (or too much spare time on their hands) that folks are going to take the time to read a post by an anonymous person.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • ben

      that is a long post filled with so much stupidity it hurts. Think more, type less, and you'd be better off.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • YBP

      My issue with what you first wrote (I admit I didn't read the whole thing) is the bit about "let believers be believers." The problem with you so-called believers is that you refuse to live and let live. You are compelled to force your religion onto the rest of us and into our governement. That is a big problem. Most of us have already been there. We've done our homework, and we've out grown this childishness. But you wont let up. It's part of your gospel to go out and make believers of everyone. That's why we freethinkers take every opportunity to point out the absurdity of your so-called faith. It's an illness you have. Find the cure.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Soporifix

      The reason to "bash" it is that it's used to "bash" others - namely, anyone who doesn't agree - through oppressive, hate-filled laws and through physical and psychological violence. The Westboro Church is just a slightly exaggerated version of all Judeo-Christian religious belief in general.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • pat carr

      "I find it so odd how the atheists must come and bash every single article written in the belief section. It's not well enough to just let believers be believers? To allow a free man/woman to exercise their freewill and choose to believe in something without having the need to bash it? "

      are you really that dense that you don't understand? you "believers" shove your toxic doctrine down our throats, try to change laws to suit your beliefs, then YOU EXPECT "respect" for this? You folks already have your "freewill" and you use it aggressively. Shame all over you.

      May 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • pat carr

      thanks everyone else for your replies. Look at the arrogance of "shmidts" post. Tells us we need to respect a belief system that doesn't respect anyone else's. Then go on to tell us that we atheists aren't moral. Shame on you religious people. We are going to scorn and revile and oppose your mental tyranny and arrogance. This isn't the middle ages anymore and you don't have the control you used to.

      May 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Scott G

      Tornadoes are an act of nature 9/11 was an act of god. If we let believers just believe we get acts of horrific terrorism based on the delusions of god beliefs. Do you really believe the terrorists are in heaven with 72 virgins each? That's what they believe their god is going to reward them with. How do you differentiate between the gods and the beliefs? What do you base that differentiation on? Please explain with more than a gut feeling.

      May 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • rachel

      We will fight you tooth and nail for reason and freedom from religion. It's what THIS COUNTRY was founded on.

      May 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • JamminCanadian

      Wow, these atheists are rabid, aren't they? Foaming at the mouth. Most didn't even bother to read and absorb, they just want a chance to pounce. Stupidity running amock.

      Atheists: If you don't share a belief, move on! Petty little 5hits!

      May 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Toby

      Schmit- I'll tell you why-because sometimes a comment or argument against a given idea or philosophy will cause others to actually THINK for themselves and challenge what they believe and why they believe it. For myself (and likely millions of other non-believers and atheists) I want to live, and I want my children and their children to live without fear of some delusional religious fanatic flying a plane into a building, or blowing up a school, church, crowded market place, or some other wicked thing. Religion kills; it has this amazing power to convince people that they will survive a physical death and reap a reward in some fantasy land of their own mind's creation. This is why it must be challenged and must be opposed; the future of our species (and perhaps our planet) depend on our being able to coexist peacefully. There is simply no greater obstacle to this ideal than that presented by the divisive dogma of competing religious ideas. Peace.

      May 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  14. Adam

    Great stories of people and history that has and will continue to change a "Bama Nation". Against adversity then and now it is the strength of relationships, first with the Lord and then with your community that encourage us to victory. Being from TX I understand faith and football. Some of us here are still digging out of tornado debrie. Thank you for the stories of hope and of a loving God who has given us grace!

    May 8, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • Jesus

      "Loving God"??? He kills millions in the Bible, says that if you don't believe in Him, you will be condemned to everlasting pain. and requires death by stoning for violations of 7 of His 10 commandments. Where is the love? Sounds like a brutal sort to me.

      May 8, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • YBP

      Did you ever notice that God's imagination doesn't stretch much further than that of the ancients that invented him? Take the Plagues for example. Frogs, locusts, the death of the First Born? He couldn't come up with some worse affliction like diabetes, cancer, or AIDS? Even an epidemic of diarrhea would have been more creative. Same goes for His repugnant, indignant Jewish personality. Jealous, vengeful, bigoted, self-absorbed. Everything you'd expect from the ancients that dreamt Him up.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Zachary Anon

      YBP, you hit the nail on the head.

      May 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • john

      ybp. which is it, you dont believe Jesus ever existed or that he was son of God? you sound really angry about something but im trying to figure out your direction, you're all over the place. most people including athiests acknowledge Jesus actually existed. just trying to help you find direction thats all man. you need to hone your argument a little.

      May 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • anfol

      I acknowledge a guy named Jesus existed. in fact, I know 4 of them. 1 of them owns a deli, 2 are construction workers, and the last one is in the Navy. I don't think any of them saved my soul though. Even if one of them does make a killer Pancetta and roasted pepper sandwich.

      May 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  15. 2011judgment

    Americans who claim to be followers of Christ need to be such every day of the week, not just on Sunday. They need to always put the things of God first, and that includes when they go into a voting booth.

    May 8, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Schmit

      amen

      May 8, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Jesus

      Have you ever heard of the concept of separating church from the state? That's one of the foundational principles of this nation. Unfortunately, you and your kind want to end that separation and turn America into a theocracy.

      May 8, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • William

      Exactly why religion is poison. Once you impose your medieval beliefs on others, you are a proselytzer of the worst orer

      May 8, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • UncleM

      That's exactly why religion is so dangerous. This country should not be governed based on bronze age fables.

      May 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • pat carr

      That's right. push your beliefs on us in the voting booths. then demand respect for your cult. then be horrified and angry when you receive scorn. next stop: you'll claim "persecution" if you're not allowed to do all this.

      May 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • rachel

      Secularism is gaining on you guys fast. (Big smile)

      May 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • neoritter

      FauxJesus you apparently have no clue what you're talking about. Yes the country is founded on the seperation of CHURCH and STATE. The people voting are not the state and they are not the Church. It means that the Church leaders force things on the goings on of government and the government doesn't force things on the churches. The first amendment means that people have the right to belief what they want and through their beliefs decide what they think is best for the country.

      To say that a person should carry their beliefs to the voting box is saying they shouldn't vote. If a person views abortion as morally wrong then it would follow they should vote for anti-abortion laws. When laws are created from the morals behind them you can not seperate religious belief from your decision. As that belief shapes one's morals.

      Further, stfu about this medieval crud. A) you're wrong because the religion was founded in the Classical era. Even if you could imply that it is old and outdated you apparently have no clue what you're talking about. B) The medieval period was rampant in progress, invention, and discovery. There's nothing inherently backward about the era. C) morality is something that rarely requires alteration. It still holds that you shouldn't murder people. It still holds you shouldn't lie. It still holds you shouldn't steal. It still holds that you should treat all with respect and dignity. It still holds that many if not all of the moral tennets of these beliefs are compatible with today's society.

      Learn some dang history before you open your ignorant mouth.

      May 9, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Toby

      Your comment is precisely why non-believers are so vocal about religion and faithheads; they aren't satisfied with their own delusions, they want to elect other infected people to office and mold public policy to fit their delusional agenda. Thanks for making that obvious to those who don't necessarily believe themselves, but would otherwise find your ideas harmless. Peace.

      May 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  16. God Comforts

    Leave all your pessimistic thoughts and comments in your own head. The people of Alabama and Tuscaloosa and Alberta City are hurting and clinging too what's left. Plus religion helps more than anything else in this world. It offers hope and humans thrive off hope.

    May 8, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Jesus

      Maybe just maybe God doesn't like folks who live in that part of the South.

      May 8, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Soporifix

      God doesn't comfort. Belief in God comforts. You could believe in cheese demons or blanket fairies and they'd offer just as much comfort without all the killing and burning in hell parts.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • tommas

      I believe penicillin has done more.

      May 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Kelly Green

      Viagra offers more hope than religion does.

      May 9, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  17. abda

    http://www.agministries.net

    May 8, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  18. god is fable

    Too long, didn't read.

    May 8, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • atheists are all babble

      too short post, yet your mouth dribbles

      May 8, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • UncelM

      Atheists are right. The bible is drivel.

      May 8, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • john

      thats what you do with your sunday morning? comment on articles you dont read? thats the strangest thing ive ever come across.

      May 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  19. A better slogan

    Let go of God.

    May 8, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • myklds

      Faith had made them strong.

      May 8, 2011 at 6:24 am |
    • Jesus

      Faith made them non-thinking robots spouting 1st century bronze age myth. They are sad creatures.

      May 8, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      myklds wrote: "Faith had made them strong."

      Self-Delusion made them think they're strong. If they need a crutch like religion, they're weak...

      May 8, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Jesus

      It always amazed how these folks could find comfort in the Bible – a book that sanctions slavery and was used by southern Senators in the 1850s to argue for the continuation of slavery by quoting from Exodus 21 and 22. It would be similar to a Jew finding solace in Hitler's Mein Kampf.

      May 8, 2011 at 9:05 am |
    • YBP

      Exactly right, Jesus. That's how stupid they are. Incredible.

      May 8, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • sassypants

      Only a fool says in his heart that there is no God.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • pat carr

      A fool says in their mind "There is a god"

      May 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Karlos

      GOOD ONE ! 🙂

      May 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Karlos

      "Nothing Fails Like Prayer: - Mark Twain

      May 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • tommas

      No one says anything in the hearts because it is only used to pump blood

      May 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • neoritter

      Bigotry at it's finest. Great jobs guys, let's keep the hate flowing.

      Instead of congratulating and ecouraging the efforts of people to get back on their feet and rebuild, hopefully for the better, you choose to mock them and attempt to make them feel inferior. Instead of noting how looking at the opportunities presented to them you choose to make say their delusional and imply they have no hope to rebuild their life.

      The real weak people are the ones that come on here and feel they have to make everyone else feel stupid in order to feel intelligent. You're pathetic.

      May 9, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  20. Chyort

    What, exactly, is a "Bama Nation" and what is it doing down in Alabama?

    May 8, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Chyort asks: "What, exactly, is a "Bama Nation"?"

      Somehow I don't think it's a shortened version of "OBama Nation"...

      May 8, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • Big Larry

      Whenever I am there, the questions I always ask are "What am I doing down in Alabama?" Why couldn't I be somewhere nicer, like Afghanistan or Bulgaria?"

      May 8, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • jdank

      really man?! u really think Bama nation has to do with obama?? really??! ala"bama" nation smart guy...

      May 8, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • sassypants

      Big Larry – You don't have to come visit. It wouldn't hurt our feelings at all.

      May 8, 2011 at 11:35 am |
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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.