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June 22nd, 2011
12:28 PM ET

U.S. evangelicals gloomy about future, 'global south' optimistic, study finds

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Half the world's evangelical Protestant leaders are optimistic about the future, confident that evangelical Christians have an increasing influence in their countries and that things will be better for them in five years.

The other half are pessimists, convinced they're losing influence on the life of their countries and mostly not persuaded that things will be better for Christianity where they live in the future.

Those are among the findings of a groundbreaking survey of more than 2,000 evangelical leaders from around the world, which the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Wednesday

The split on optimism is between north and south, and the way it breaks down might surprise you.

It's evangelicals in the comparatively poor south who see a bright future ahead - Africans, Latin Americans and Middle Easterners.

Those from the developed world, where evangelical Christianity was born, are the pessimists. And Americans are among the most glum of all, with more than eight out of 10 evangelical Christian leaders there saying that the movement is losing influence in the United States today.

Among other results from the survey:

- Only 3% of evangelical Christian leaders believe in evolution as defined by scientists. About half believe God created the planet and life on it as it is now, while four out of 10 say there has been evolution, but it was guided by God.

- Nearly all believe abortion is usually or always morally wrong. A similar number say the same thing about homosexuality.

- They feel generally positive about Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews but have a low opinion of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and atheists, with atheists rating the lowest of all. (Evangelicals from Muslim-majority countries tend to have higher opinions of Muslims than those who live elsewhere, the Pew Forum found.)

- Half say the Bible should be read literally. Half say not everything in it should be taken literally.

- Half say it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person. Half say it isn't.

Pew Forum Director Luis Lugo said the "optimism gap" between north and south struck him the most about the survey.

"There are huge differences between the global south, who see things getting better, compared to the global north, and particularly the U.S., where we get down to 31% who see things being better five years from now," he said.

But the respondents' perceptions may not reflect reality, said Michael Cromartie, an expert on evangelical Christians and a senior adviser to the Pew Forum not involved in the survey.

"In the United States, evangelicals feels like they're losing influence because the elite culture isn't sympathetic or sees them as intolerant - which I don't think it is the case, but it's how they're perceived," said Cromartie, who directs the Evangelicals in Civic Life program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

In the global south, on the other hand, "You could see yourself having influence because the numbers (of evangelical Christians) are growing so fast," he said.

"The numbers are exploding. That doesn't necessarily mean you have influence, but you feel like you have influence."

Both sides think the south - where a majority of evangelicals now live - should have more influence on the movement as a whole, the survey found.

"We were surprised to see a majority thought that the global south should be contributing more - and leaders from the global south were even more self-critical," Lugo said.

Leaders from the south tend to be more conservative than those from the north, a pattern that mimics that in the global Anglican Communion, for example. If the south gains influence over time, it could push the movement as a whole in an even more conservative direction.

But Lugo points out that the south is not a monolith.

"Latin America is much closer to North America and Europe than to the rest of the global south" in its attitudes, he said. "They tend to be less conservative on homosexuality even than European leaders, and less conservative on tithing and biblical literalism than the rest of the global south."

The Pew Forum surveyed 2,196 participants in the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October. The respondents were leaders sent by their home churches and mirror the geographical map of evangelical Christians around the globe, the Pew Forum said.

There are at least 260 million followers of the movement worldwide, the Pew Forum said.

The conference where it conducted the survey is a follow-up to one Billy Graham convened in 1974 in Switzerland.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

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soundoff (611 Responses)
  1. Jim

    "Government has a responsibility to take care of very poor people"

    I was surprised by the results of this until I thought about it. Perhaps they heard "Government has a responsibility to TAKE CARE OF very poor people". Probably with a slight gangster accent on the emphasized words.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  2. Fred Evil

    "Half say the Bible should be read literally. "
    And I say that proves half have had frontal lobotomies.....by choice.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  3. Liutgard

    I would just like to point out that the statistics presented in the slides above are taken from surveys of the Evangelical *leadership*, and not the people who sit in their pews. I'd bet that the numbers would be significantly different.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • scoobers

      Well said! That is a point I overlooked, yes we often see the "preachers" and ones who should most resemble Christ actually act more the opposite than those sitting in the pews. Certainly not always, but with the (unfortunate) prevalence of megachurches and (false) properity gospel, everyday we are seeing more and more false teachers turn many ppl away from Jesus.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      As opposed to all the false preachers leading people towards christ HAHAHAHAHA

      June 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • scoobers

      @Religionisnotheanswer

      For somebody who doesn't beleive in God, you sure waste a ton of time posting comments on religious stories. Seems that these religion pages really intrigue and anger you. I was under the impression that the evolved, intelligent, most awesome atheists had much better things to do with their time....guess I was wrong and you my friend are a troll 😦

      June 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • George Busch

      Scoobers – just like you we want to spread the word (or lack of it). Here is the problem you face, you won't convince an atheist to believe. But all an atheist has to do is put the seed of doubt in the mind of someone curious and they will do the rest. Once someone starts to question the bible they start looking for the truth and it will always lead them away from religion. I've sen it time and time again.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • scoobers

      @george – I could say the exact same thing about atheists and it would be true. I've seen countless atheists think that there might just be a possibility that God exists, and they do research and then become a believer....and FYI I had my doubts before and thought just as you did, I understand where you're coming from but cannot agree with that, that was the old, egotistical, narcisstic me that thought that way.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      Oh but scoobers it does intrigue me when i see the "chattel" flock to ignorance. You can use any ploy you desire to try to attack my character but that takes none of the impact from words. The fact still remains that no matter how harsh or rash my words are and regardless of whether or not they are spoken from anger, THEY ARE ALL STILL TRUE.

      Hold on let me translate it into proper christian:
      "bahhhhhhh, bahhh (insert sheep bleating)"

      June 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • scoobers

      lol I feel sorry for you, and although this angers you, I will pray that you too can someday find peace and happiness. I know, and am friends with, a lot of people exactly like you. It's not hard to see what's beneath the surface.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      Whew its a good thing you said that prayer a small flying 'jiminy cricket" looking creature just materialized next to me and fixed me all up. He said now i can go out and sin as much as I want as long as once a week i go to church and give them 10% of my income every week and fill them in on some of my sins so they can enjoy a good laugh too since they dont get out much. he said to just make sure I make a spineless deathbed confession out of misplaced fear and anxiety when im older and ill fit right in BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      June 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • George Busch

      Scoobers, you let fear get the best of you. I've seen that many times also. The weak minded who have to play all the bets just in case there's a hell. You put you fear behind you and keep searching and suddenly you realize you wasted a lot of time with a myth. Once you come to the acceptance that you are here, you live, then you die and that is all you can see the world in a better perspective and appreciate it more.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  4. David

    The sooner religion is consigned to the ashbin of history, the better. It is time for the human race to put childish religious beliefs behind us, unite as human beings and try to solve some huge problems which are on our collective radar screen. I used to be a Southern Baptist but now that I have put that poisonous belief system behind me and have embraced Humanism, I can see with clear eyes and I now help to break down barriers and walls between people, not erect them like religions tend to do.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • George Busch

      We can't do away with religion, we would loose our most important holidays. Without Christmas the economy would collapse. Maybe we should just upgrade religion, give it a more modern spin. Maybe instead of someone who died on the cross a couple thousand years ago we go with someone zapped with a Tomahawk missile or bored to death by a Boehner speech.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • LP

      @George – We can do away with Xmas and go back to celebrating Winter Solstice . . . after all, it was a holiday long before the xians co-opted it for their own. I bet if we try really hard we can spend just as much money!

      "We wish you a Merry Solstice . . . !" 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • George Busch

      Yeah, that has a nice ring to it. And I guess we could keep the tree. I mean, seriously, it doesn't have much to do with Jesus. I don't believe Scotch Pines are native to Israel. And there are 3 more solstices, so we could actually gain holidays if we play our cards right.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • pat carr

      Good for you David. I put that stupid, hateful, evil belief system behind me in 1999 and never looked back. I now call it Christ's insanity

      June 22, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  5. scoobers

    Here's an idea: Start looking at what Jesus taught and showed instead of focusing on the flawed (and often hypocritical) nature of Christians. They, like everybody is, are flawed to the core, precisely why we need Jesus 🙂

    June 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Bjørn Møösefåartsniffænsen

      Okay, so you are saying that those who try to follow Jesus are miserable failures, so we should instead try to follow Jesus?

      June 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • scoobers

      @Bjorn – No I'm saying that atheists always want to point out certain Christian's behavior and then use that as a reason why Christianity is false. My point is; that is a flawed way to judge something. You should judge something by what it stands for, not by what the worst things it's members do.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      See there ya go, now you have the proper christian logic ... or lack there of

      June 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      Right because there are absoutly no christians out there who try to make it out that every bad person in the world was an athiest....

      June 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Bjørn Møösefåartsniffænsen

      If the adherents of a religion cannot behave in a manner consistent with "what it stands for," then "what it stands for" is nothing but an empty illusion.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Even I, a staunch atheist, acknowledges that jesus had a good idea or two. Nothing new or that hadn't been said by earlier philosophers, but nothing revelationary or revolutionary either. I can accept that, *if* he existed, he was a good person and a reasonable role model, or that if he did not exist, many of the words put into his mouth by man are ok. But you lose me the instant you add in your supernatutal bullsh!t.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      @Bjorn I think hallunication is a far better word to describe it

      June 22, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • cmwilliams

      @Scoobers – or Horus. Much of what is attributed to Jesus was first attributed to Horus.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Scott

      Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ."
      “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today,"
      Mahatma Gandhi

      June 24, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  6. Inside track to god's ear

    @scoobers

    please do me a favor and stick your bible up your @ss

    June 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      Everyone has a right to be as ignorant and foolish as they desire to be 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  7. scoobers

    After reading comments day in and day out, people just love to bash on anything and everything, from Obama to Bush, liberals to conservatives, atheist to Christians. Nobody in these comments are going to change my mind about God and my personal beliefs because;
    a) most comments are ignorant and only said to get reactions out of people
    b) you cant have a legitmate debate on a comments board, much less on CNN
    c) if truly interested, you will research facts along with your heart

    I understand that everybody wants to spout their personal belief in the loudest way possible but this is the exactly the wrong approach. To all the Christians out there: stop preaching your morality and talking down to non-Christians, that does no service to Christianity or what Christ stood for. Start loving people first, and then trying to help them in any way possible, dont tell them how bad and immoral of a person they are, that only turns them off from your message. Try to live a decent, respectable life and if anyone asks then by all means tell them what you believe in, but living what you believe in shows non-believers so much more.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • thanksforthelaughs

      nice try but it won't work...they are required to "fix" everybody else.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • scoobers

      @Thanks – no actually they are required to spread the love and compassion that Jesus did, unfortunately many/most do not, and instead choose to talk down to people as if they are righteous. Jesus did not come for the righteous, but for those sinners who are lost and need him.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      if believers (crazys) just kept to themselves and didnt go around trying to convert everyone it wouldnt be an issue. I went from being just an athiest to being a militant athiest because i was sick and tired of having christianity shoved down my throat every day of my life by every crazy just trying to do "the work of god" Athiests dont try to convert people. We eventually get fed up with what we see and get fustrated and in as loud a voice as possible we knock you morons off your pulpit and make you face reality. if i come across as looking at believers as lesser indivudals thats what i aimed for, you are less then me! Anyone who willingly believes in complete ignorance when the scientific truth is right infront of their eyes is less of a person then I am. They are a sheep or a child that needs to tended to!

      June 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • QS

      I appreciate the sentiment and the message....but "living what you believe in shows non-believers so much more." – in my experience, non-believers are usually the ones living closer to the beliefs of believers than the believers are.

      They tend to be less intolerant, less judgmental, more open-minded and more accepting of others' differences. So from my perspective it is the believers that should be taking pointers from how non-believers live their lives.

      But, that is of course my perspective. I still think people should be able to believe what they will, as long as they're not insisting or even demanding that others either a) believe just as they do, or b) at the very least treat their beliefs as they would like you to, i.e. like their beliefs are true, indisputable and more right than anybody else's beliefs.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • pat carr

      That would be nice but christianity forces it's followers to "witness" and "evangelize", which are really code words for pushing this belief system on others. that's why it gets so much scorn from non-christians

      June 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  8. Mike Peralta

    THE REAL DEAL:
    Read Volume 1 of The Prophetic Book Series, I AM COMING. This Series Contains Urgent Messages From God – yes from God Himself through prophecy – about the soon Rapture and Tribulation.
    You can download the free ebook from http://www.smashwords.com
    Use the search phrase: I Am Coming
    Some prophetic words from Jesus in I Am Coming, Volume 1 :
    “This is your LORD. Time is short. Time is running out. The clock is ticking. I must come soon. Life will never be the same. You have the power to choose. Life is in your hands. I will not wait forever on MY people. This is serious. If you stay you will die. If you leave, you must leave with Me.”
    “You must choose life or death. I come quickly. MY hour is near, the hour I retrieve MY Bride. She is ready. All is ready. The hour is close at hand. Be ready. Look for ME.. Only the pure of heart will see MY face, MY beautiful face. MY heart is broken for those who will be lost.”
    “Save yourselves, turn and surrender. The hour is close at hand. All will be dark soon, but the Bride will be safely put away. Be the Bride: turn, repent, come to ME. I am gentle. I am kind. MY words are soft and tender. I am a gentle God. MY people see, MY people know I am love. I spare no expense for MY children. Love is MY moniker. This world is going to die out soon. Soon it will all be over. Repent while you still can. Please come to ME, I am waiting. These are your last opportunities. You choose: life or death.”
    “Choose against ME and discover that you have made a move that has eternal consequences. You will never see ME again. You will never hear MY voice. You will never experience MY ways: I am LOVE. I am HOPE. I am KINDNESS. I am PEACE. I am WISDOM. I am KNOWLEDGE. I am STRENGTH. I am SAFETY. I am BLISS. I am JOY. I am TRUTH. I am GREATNESS. I am LIFE. I am ADORATION. I am all the good things you enjoy in this world. Hell does not have these things. It will be never-ending sad futility.”
    “MY children who are in hell have no hope. They will not find hope or love again. They are experiencing the worst things. Some of MY children have witnessed hell and speak of it. Many have been there for short times and experienced its anguish. But there is nothing worse than an eternity apart from ME, your MAKER. I am sorry for their loss, but MY Word is clear and the people are without excuse if they choose against ME and find themselves in hell.”
    “Now I am putting forth MY final pleas and I am warning you about the horror to come. .. MY people left will have to go through the worst imaginable things. I want them to know that the choice they are making now has severe consequences if they choose against ME... It will be very hard for those who want to turn back to ME. The choice now is easy. Later it will be very difficult. Choosing for ME will be very hard after I take MY people home. Come with ME now. Follow ME now. Save yourself. Time is running out. Don’t waste precious moments. Turn, turn, turn NOW. Repent! Lay your life down before ME. Give ME everything. I will save you. Now is the deciding hour. Time is running out.”
    “I, GOD, I, JESUS am waiting for your answer.”

    June 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH the rapture was invented in modern calvinist times. its never mentioned in the bible once hahaha: All that nonsense text you painstakenly wrote and passionatly believed in are worthless

      June 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • thanksforthelaughs

      it MUST be true if its written in a book. Sign me up!

      June 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Matt

      lol

      June 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Bob

      Bite me. Stop preaching at me, stop lecturing me, but mostly, just bite me.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Bob

      Hey Mr. Peralta, you know who else is great? YOUR MOM!

      June 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • steve

      Boy the author of that piece has a real complex. It is all...I am, I am, ME,ME,ME. Who does he think he is? God or sumptin'.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • David

      I really wish the rapture would happen so the world would have no more Christians and we could live in peace.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Mike Peralta

      Jesus is returning very, very soon.
      First He will rapture His true saints.
      Then the awful tribulation will occur for 7 years.
      A ruthless devilish dictator will rise to world power.
      Also awful natural calamities – earthquakes, pestilence, asteroids,
      nuclear wars, etc, etc. will occur.
      IT WILL BE ABSOLUTELY AWFUL during the tribulation.
      You can avoid all that if you surrend to Jesus who lovingly created you,
      and paid the terrible price for you sins on the cross.
      You only have a very, very short time left to do this.

      – Mike

      June 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      Mike if your so sure about the rapture which ONCE AGAIN DOES NOT EXIST IN ANY FORM OF THE BIBLE, you are free to send all your worldly goods to me. As i intend to stay and throw the best party ever once you guys float off with the flying spegettie monster or ride away on unicorns with elvis and what not.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Mike Peralta

      You have been given fair warning.
      In fact, you have been given more warning than 99.9% of the world's population.
      To actively reject God's free offer of salvation is evil indeed.
      You will have no one to blame except yourself.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • pat carr

      Man you sure wasted a lot of time pasting and typing christian drivel. That garbage isn't fit to be on toilet paper even

      June 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • pat carr

      "To actively reject God's free offer of salvation is evil indeed."

      i reject your cult's dogma and spit on it. There's nothing "Free" about the evil and sick doctrine that you spew. Take your warnings and your 'evangelism" and insert it please where sunshine isn't visibily displayed

      June 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • pat carr

      Jesus is returning very, very soon.
      First He will rapture His true saints.
      Then the awful tribulation will occur for 7 years.
      A ruthless devilish dictator will rise to world power.
      Also awful natural calamities – earthquakes, pestilence, asteroids,"

      and Mike when will that be exactly? i've been hearing how JESUS IS COMING BACK VERY SOON!!! for 40 years. You can't be very bright to still believe this.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Mike Peralta

      I gave my life to Jesus back in 1979. The moral degradation since then has been astounding.
      God destroyed all of mankind in Noah's time and the moral decay in the current days are
      about the same as it was back then in Noah's day. This is one reason why I know Jesus is
      returning very, very soon.

      Just read the free book I mentioned. At the very least you will get familiar with God's opinion about
      mankind's state.

      – Mike

      June 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Scott

      Hey Mike. Jesus has been going to come back "any day now" for 2000 years and it still hasn't happened.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Scott

      @PAT: WHAT A FANTASTIC IDEA!!! The bible printed on toilet paper. The perfect gift for all your atheist friends

      June 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Mike Peralta

      @Scott- And your point is what? You are not foolish enough to use that line of thought as some kind of evidence do you?

      June 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  9. brad

    This appears to be a Protestant problem in general. As for evolution, that catholic St. Augustine was thinking about evolution about 1500 years before Darwin. During the French revolution, Reason was enthroned. Following this, Napolean introduced the "reasonable" concept of total war. Then, Darwin the s*xist came along. His ideas were picked up by Margaret Sanger , the racist, who thought of some people as "human weeds" who should be eliminated, their propogation "checked" as Darwin discussed in Origin of Species. Hitler, of course, liked Sanger's and other eugenicists' ideas and the rest is history. Following the "enlightenment", there was vast technological development. Man, with his exalted reasoning power, turned this technology into a human meat grinder during WW1, and into a mushroom cloud in WW2. The God, Reason, is a failure. Protestantism severed itself from all that occured before Reason took the throne. It has few tools with which to cope with Atheism. Protestantism is a reaction against Catholicism, atheism a reaction agains the idea of God. Reactions have no meaning apart from the original force, in this case Catholicism.

    June 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      My thats a mighty twisted and biased history lesson you believe in your mind there...

      June 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • steve

      Catholics? Are they the ones that have a dead guy on a stick above their altar?

      June 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Andrew

      What? "The s-xist Darwin"? You could mention "the racist Newton" but it seems kinda silly. Darwin wasn't the first to talk about evolution at all, and in fact the term "Darwinism", which creationists idiotically attribute to 'biological evolution' was first coined to distinguish Darwin's form of evolution (Descent with modification) from Lamarckism, which was Lamarck's form of evolution (Acquired traits are passed on). No one ever claims Darwin was the first, it's just he was the first person to properly catagorically outline his theory in rather excruciating detail, publishing the Origin of Species which was so comprehensive it became very difficult to argue that Darwin's form of evolution wasn't correct.

      As it happens, it wasn't correct... or at least, not complete, in the same form that Newtonian physics was not correct, or at least not complete. In the same vain that Newton couldn't account for relativity, he had no reason to question the nature of space-time or consider the ultra fast or ultra dense.... Darwin had no knowledge of genetics, and would have been entirely amazed by things like lateral gene transfer which do not fit at all with Darwin's simple descent with modification model. (Which works well for animals, but tends to be much less effective for other organisms)

      Him being s-xist matters as much as Newton being racist would matter, it doesn't detract from the value of the scientific information he contributed. How people twisted and distorted his information is kinda irrelevant. By the way, Hitler banned Origin of Species, in case you were unaware. And my atheism isn't a reaction against anything, in the same way that my denial of the existence of unicorns is a reaction against anything. I simply have not been convinced by any evidence put forth by religious individuals, and so have no belief in a god. I don't deny the possibility of god, I don't react against the idea, I react against the fact that no evidence has been provided and hence god seems as real to me as unicorns. I don't react against the idea of unicorns either, it'd be quite cool if they existed... I just have no reason to believe they do.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • brad

      Where does one turn when they throw away religion? Well, people have turned to their own reason. And since nothing is supreme to man's reason, it has become his God. We hear that when religion is gone, all will be right with the world. But the prophets of Reason, were themselves bigots. With nothing but reason to "guide" him, man has done himself enormous harm. Reason is just another Tower of Babel.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • brad

      @Andrew: "which creationists idiotically attribute to 'biological evolution' ".

      Andrew, read Origin of Species. It's all about biological evolution. I think I'll investigate Richard Dawkins. He is said to be an EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGIST.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Andrew

      brad, "Darwinism" is about as much 'biological evolution' as 'Newtonian physics' is 'relativity'. It is a small subset of a much larger field which only works when examining certain sets of data, but is wholly inadequate to address larger problems. Lateral gene transfer makes no sense, at all, in Darwinism, but happens to be a rather important feature of modern evolutionary biology. Saying 'the theory of evolution' no longer refers to Darwin's simplistic model. Yes, he wrote a book which detailed the basics, but that book is outdated by 150 years of biological research.

      It would be doing biologists a disservice to say Darwinism accurately reflects evolutionary biology as much as it would be to say Newtonian physics accurately reflects special and general relativity. Yes, Newtonian physics works in the subset of 'low mass and low speed', and Darwinism works well with complex animals, but they both ignore a much larger world that scientists in either field (physics or evolutionary biology) would be examining.

      It's poor taste to refer to a 150 year old theory as the same as a modern scientific theory, especially when great strides have come forth changing the theory dramatically from what it was back 150 years ago.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      "Where does one turn when they throw away religion?
      -- Exactly. But to leap to a default (utilitarian motivated) position of faith is not the answer, (for me). I only want evidence, and don't make anything supreme except I ask for some of that. Is he trying to trick me ? Religion being gone may be a step forward, but no one says it's the answer to every problem.
      "With nothing but reason to "guide" him, man has done himself enormous harm."
      -- That's is (in my opinion), the fallacy of the questionable cause. Men with religion have also done enormous harm.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Scott

      Men with Christianity brought you the crusades and the inquisition men with reason brought you antibiotics and antiseptics

      June 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  10. Refugee from Glennbeckistan

    These people are praying for the end of the world and that's optimistic? I don't see much difference between them and the Taliban.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Conifer

      You're not very perceptive then, are you...or, you have an ax to grind.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  11. thanksforthelaughs

    I think the loss of influence began when they started getting so involved in politics. Thanks Jerry, Pat, etc.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  12. steve

    If there were truly an almighty creator, why would he feel the need to be worshipped? Ego problem maybe? If this powerful diety did exist and felt the need to be worshipped, don't you think It would make it crystal clear to all of humanity on how to properly worship. Did It decide to just let them figure it out on there own without guidance? Something like...."Hey you down there!!! You are doing it all wrong!!!!

    June 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      G: "LOVE ME ... or or I'll punish you for all time! Yeah I'll punish you for all time"

      June 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • brad

      God certainly does not need our worship. But it God did create us, then our entire purpose lies with Him/Her. In that case we NEED to worhip God. Otherwise our lives are devoid of ultimate purpose. At least that's my take.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      How sad that you would see your "ultimate purpose" in venorating what amounts to at best an absent father and at worst one of the purpetrators of the largest and earliest recorded and persistant genocides in history.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  13. Jessica

    Wow, half of these so called Christians don't think it's right to help the poor? Not what Jesus would do....

    June 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Conifer

      Reading comprehension alert. The survey asked if the GOVERNMENT should be helping the poor, not if they should be helped at all.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Liutgard

      Conifer, if all Christians were doing what Jesus told them to do, the government wouldn't need to step in. It does so because Christians are slacking.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  14. tomn8r

    christians will b persecuted. says so in the bible. so nothing new here.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Al

      LOL. Sure... you're persecuted in the US where 80% of the population agrees with you. Whatever. You guys love to scream persecution. Sort of reminds me of that scene from Monte Python "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!!!"

      June 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  15. cliff

    "Only 3% of evangelical Christian leaders believe in evolution as defined by scientists."

    This type of thinking is the surest path to irrelevance in the modern age...unless you can keep the rest of your citizens just as ill-informed (and then the whole country will suffer). Good luck right-wing America!

    June 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  16. scoobers

    the problem with this world is not Christianity, the problem is that all people (yes everyone) of all walks of life are hypocritical and generally primarily concerned with their own selfish desires.....precisely why we need Christ to save us from ourselves 🙂

    June 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Brent Slensker

      No...just YOU need "christ"

      June 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • George Busch

      He's going to save us? He couldn't even save himself. He died on the cross. He is dead. He never rose from the dead – that is a fairy tell, just like most of his life and most of the bible. 2100 years later and you idiots are still haven't figured it out, even with all the proof available. You all just refuse to look at the facts and keep praying for the end of the world so you can live in your la-la land that is never going to happen.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  17. Greg s

    Atheist's amaze me, They have no proof there isn't a God The Atheist has only His statement of There is no God, Thats it, Nothing to prove it, The Atheist needs a Believer to throw something at him so he can attack it, on his own all he has is one little statement, There is no God....Thats saying a whole lot too because next week Proof of God could sally forth, So by saying there isnt a God your implying that You know everything there is to know About God and can Say for a fact He doesn't exist. Dang Your pretty Smart!!!
    Ahh you Atheist yall are so full of BS But go Ahead and Scream at Believers there aint no blasted GOD, They will just shake our heads and Pray for you, Well I wont, I figure if you want to go into oblivion, If you want your life to end at your death so be it, More power to you! I just don't get your desire to keep me from Believing in God, WHy does my Belief in God bother you when your dis belief doesn't bother me , well it doesn't until yall start spewing forth your Hate towards believers,
    What the Heck happened to yall anyway, did you ask God for a new Bicycle and you didnt get it, Did You ask God to reach down his big ole hand and save your Mother when she was sick and He didn't do it, Did some Atheist preacher or Priest do something terrible and Now you too are a Atheist Because of it, Hey go Ahead Believe in yourself, Believe in your Intellect, Believe that You know everything there is to know about this world and the Universe, Go ahead and Believe there isnt a God Start your own Church, open a few soup Kitchens, Some relief for the Poor,wait wait wait, Strange how Atheists don't seem to do that yall are so concerned about self, That you don't give a dang about anyone else. But im off track, Hey Believe in your dis belief but leave me the hell alone with my Belief!

    June 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Michael

      YOU have no proof that God as you define it exists.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • EZRA

      "Yall"? Really?

      June 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • tomn8r

      u tellem

      June 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • 3lwood

      Atheist say there is no god just like we say there are no unicorns. It isn't impossible, but just not very likely.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • thanksforthelaughs

      YoU ReAlLy NeEd To GeT ThAt CaPs KeY FiXeD oN YoUr KeYbOaRd.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • cliff

      The burden of proof is not on the atheist – logic 101. Otherwise, i believe in the flying spaghetti monster as my god (yes, we are an organized religion, with mythology and even a website) and you have no way to disprove it either.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Jessica

      You have no proof either. By your reasoning I can say that the tooth fairy is real and that you must believe me.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Andrew

      I also have no proof there isn't a flying teapot outside of Jupiter too small for our telescopes to detect... do you believe in that too? What about unicorns, I have no proof they don't exist. Or the flying spaghetti monster, also lack proof it doesn't exist. You mind explaining to me how it is actually possible to prove something doesn't exist? How could I prove god doesn't exist any more than I could prove the flying spaghetti monster doesn't exist? I'm all ears.

      And it's not that your belief bothers me, I don't care what silly fantasies you wish to indulge in, I care that said beliefs often find their way into the political sphere and cause damage. For example the rather high percentage of individuals who don't believe evolution happened at all, or that the world is 6000 years old, or that gays shouldn't be allowed to marry (despite marriage being a CIVIL inst-tution, as atheists can get married), or that we should have inst-tutionalised prayer in public schools, or that political comments can be made without jeopardising tax exempt status, I have a problem not with you believing silly things... I have a problem whenever you people go out and promote silly things.

      If you want to keep your beliefs to yourself, you'd find I won't challenge them.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Jessica

      Cliff, "Ramennnnnn..." 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • ReligionIsNotTheAnswer

      Theists amaze me, they have no proof there is a god, a theist only has his statment that there is a god, thats it, nothing to prove it. The thiests needs an athiest to attack in order to look "holier" to his other thiests. On his own he has but one statement "there is a god" and needs to be propped up by the beliefs of others least he realize how silly his beliefs are; thats saying a whole lot too becase they were told by someone who was told by someone who was told by someone who was told by someone etc etc that was told by someone who actually claimed to know someone who was there 5000 years ago. ... do i really need to go on? I think its pretty self evidant how stupid you are!

      June 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • sobeach

      You get no screaming from me. You're free to believe whatever you want. Just understand that there is no "proof" required for disbelief. It's a LACK of proof that drives disbelief.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Al

      Right! We have no proof that there is no Poseidon and yet we STILL state with authority that there is no Poseidon. Can you believe our hubris???

      June 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • cliff

      logic, critical thinking, science – not very important for believers

      June 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Bjørn Møösefåartsniffænsen

      A bit off topic, but why is it that the really bad spelling and grammar is almost always found in the pro-religion posts?

      Look at Greg's bizarre capitalization, nonsensical punctuation – he seems to think commas are periods (and even so, they are in the wrong places), his strange digressive meandering, and his clumsy syntax. His own writing incompetence discredits any point he is trying to make.

      There is a real pattern here; it's not just Greg.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Bob

      World peace and an end to hunger would be nice, but I guess your god doesn't want those things. Your god has given us an even greater gift though–your Hunter S. Thompson-meets-Fred Phelps run on rant/ epic (in your mind).

      June 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Bjørn Møösefåartsniffænsen

      There is no connection at all between Hunter Thompson and Greg.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Rick

      Can't prove a negative, Greg

      June 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • George Busch

      Why would I start my own church to believe in atheism? It is not a belief, it is a lack of belief. I don't believe, therefore I am not going to worship anything and do something more productive with my time. There is no proof there is a god, just a book of fairy tales. There is a mountain of proof to dispute religion as your "good book" describes it. God and physics doesn't work together, god and the bible doesn't work together – god and ignorance works great together.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Bjorn
      Ya ya ya. I have often noticed that, and have gotten used to it. I was going to remark on the same thing on the next page on "Student of World Religion's" bad grammar, but thought "why bother" ?
      The problem with this post is also the total lack of logic. Has he never learned it's impossible to prove a negative ? If he wants to wait for next week for the proof of a deity, great. I won't hold my breath. He thinks "atheists do this, or that" or "think this or that", while in fact their opinions and variations are as multiple and varied as all the religions. In fact nonbelievers understand they DON'T know everything, and instead of closing the book as possessing the entire truth, they leave open the possibility that further discoveries and understandings will emerge. He says that if we want our lives to end at our death "so be it". I thought we were going to hell ? Oh and BTW, 3/4 of my friends who volunteer at the homeless shelter are non-believers.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • standingwave

      Seems to me that if there actually is a god and this god is capable of creating the universe then he/she/it should be able to clearly communicate it's wants,needs and desires with us,which it also created.Why is that too much to ask?

      June 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • LinCA

      @standingwave

      You said: "Seems to me that if there actually is a god and this god is capable of creating the universe then he/she/it should be able to clearly communicate it's wants,needs and desires with us,which it also created.Why is that too much to ask?"

      Let's for a moment ignore the fact that if there is an omnipotent god that would desire everyone to believe in him/her/it, he/she/it could make that happen with a flick of the wrist. This god apparently chose to communicate with his/her/its sheeple by having a bunch of people write all kinds of contradicting stories while having others compile, redact, edit them into hundreds of version of his/her/its "holy book".

      He/she/it has failed to convince even a majority of the people he/she/it even exists, but managed to splinter those that were convinced into more than 30,000 different groups.

      If there is a god, he/she/it isn't very good at picking his/her/its agents and he/she/it is a piss poor communicator.

      It's fucking amazing that anyone still believes this nonsense.

      June 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  18. Michael

    The evangelical movement in this country preys on people's fears and ignorance. It is time for it to go away

    June 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • tomn8r

      really? man u a smart one. every1 should listen toy YOU.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  19. cmwilliams

    If the bible is to be taken literally then why all the to-do about abortion? According to the bible, life begins with the first breath.
    If I remember correctly there's even a passage that describes how a rabbi should perform an abortion .... something to do with water and dust from the temple floor. I guess the bottom line is, if you want to believe then do it, if you don't want to believe then don't, but until a theist or an atheist can prove that there is or isn't a god then I'll remain an agnostic 'cause baby, I just don't know.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Before you say "according to the Bible," you should confer that your information is accurate. The Bible does not say life starts at first breath, in fact see Psalm 139. The Bible says nothing about instructions for how a Rabbi is to perform an abortion. You might as well have made that up... As for remaining an agnostic simply 'cause baby, I just don't know' – you could know by simply reading. It would be especially interesting for you to know that 100% of people born, die. Then what....? I hope you are convinced there is no God..., I would hate to be wrong.... especially for all eternity. That would suck.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • TheyNotHim

      Okay, one more time for the Peanut Gallery. Total lack of proof that something exists is proof that it does not exist. Two thousand years of searching the skies, and, zilch, zippo, nada, nothing...I think it is safe to say that God does not exist. The bible is not evidence, since the same argument could be made for Santa Claus, a person I personally believed to exist until I learned otherwise. I read stories about him in school, my parents insisted that he gave me gifts on xmas, and I even saw him a couple of times down at the local mall and had my picture taken with him. The previous sentence contains more evidence that Santa Claus exists than the bible contains evidence that god exists. Doesn't matter how ardently I believed in the bespeckled fat man, he still was not real. Any questions?

      June 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Skeptical Analysis

      @ Jonathan – Your argument is called Pascal's Wager. It's biggest logical flaw is that it is a false dichotomy. How do you know you have chosen the right god? I would hate for you to be wrong. Even if you chose the right god, have you chosen the right doctrine to follow? And there is another option. What if god has put the ridiculous religions and scriptures in place to test the gullible and the ones who actually used the reasoning ability they were given to reject false doctrine are the ones who will be allowed to enter heaven?

      June 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Brent Slensker

      @ Jonathan "you could know by simply reading."
      I can phrase that slightly different by saying "YOU could learn by simply thinking"...AS IF reading the bible and simply swallowing that crap is a fix all ...

      June 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • cmwilliams

      @Jonathan – The bible defines life as "breath" in several significant passages, including the story of Adam's creation in Genesis 2:7, when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

      I will however admit that I could be wrong about the bitter water/abortion deal, but I'm sure that causing a miscarriage wasn't considered murder.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  20. Jean Sartre

    IF christianity is so GREAT, and a belief in jesus and his teachings is so GOOD... when are all your Country Clubs with pews going to start paying TAXES to help the POOR and reduce our DEFICIT?

    June 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • scoobers

      @Jean: ummmm, you do realize that churches support the poor way more than our govt right? And since religion is so terrible and apparently the worst thing on earth, what have you done to help the poor and society in general recently?

      Also please elaborate, will this earth be a perfect paradise, as you claim, if all religion disappeared?

      Please do provide a response because you sound so educated.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Jonathan

      It is obvious you do not know what a church is, or what it does. The statistical figures on what churches give to local, regional, national, and international needs exceeds $100 Billion / yr. Just google it....

      June 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • QS

      At least they could put the money used for political reasons, another reason they should not be tax exempt, into more useful things – like helping the needy. People like to only see the perceived benevolence of religion and all the "good" it does, without ever bothering to see the other side of religion which is, as a gay man, all I ever see.

      Not to mention, the "good" that religion does is never completely 100% altruistic, there is always an ulterior motive....doing those things to better yourself in the eyes of your god in order to have a better chance of getting into heaven.

      If religion ceased to exist altogether I don't think it would solve ALL the world's problems, but it would make a pretty large dent in them.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • scoobers

      the problem with this world is not Christianity, the problem is that all people (yes everyone) of all walks of life are hypocritical and generally primarily concerned with their own selfish desires.....precisely why we need Christ

      June 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jay (The other one)

      scoobers, Medicare and Medicaid make up a great deal of federal spending. Please back up your post with a link, or I'm just going to assume you're making stuff up. Oh, and FYI – I'm not religious... I made over $5k in charitable donations last year. But if pretending that everything good comes from religion makes you feel better about yourself, whatever. That's your right.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • QS

      Religion and morality are not synonymous.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • TheyNotHim

      @scoobers ... you do realize that the catholic church in Washington DC threatened to withhold alms for the poor if the city council decided to legalize gay marriage. Fortunately, the city council told them they could keep their alms, since the Govt was providing the vast majority of help to the poor of that great city...

      June 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Brent Slensker

      @ Jonathan "The statistical figures on what churches give to local, regional, national, and international needs exceeds $100 Billion / yr. Just google it..."
      Statistically speaking, people generally are as giving as any other person REGARDLESS whether they are christians or not...just Google it! Just because someone is a christian does NOT mean they are a better person...In fact, I can pull out more stats that say Atheists have more stable relationships, are less likely to commit crimes/go to prison and CERTAINLY have a lower pregnancy rate among their teens!

      June 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
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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.