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Your Take: Comments on faith-based opposition to the national anthem
June 27th, 2011
03:04 PM ET

Your Take: Comments on faith-based opposition to the national anthem

Yesterday's post about a Mennonite pastor’s faith-based reasons for not singing the "Star Spangled-Banner" drew more than 4,000 comments.

Mark Schloneger, a Mennonite pastor and an alum of Goshen College - which recently decided to forego the singing of the national anthem at sporting events - described how his religion's teachings on separation of church and state lead to the decision to skip the anthem.

Some readers agreed with the author's view and defended the Mennonite faith:

Tandamonium
As an agnostic, a wife of an Active Duty Marine for over 20 years and mother of two Active Duty Marines, I thought the author did a great job getting to the nuance of the reason behind the decision and also on giving some insight into Anabaptists. It is a faith-based decision stemmed in beliefs older than the US. I don't feel the author is any less patriotic than I am or the Mennonite Church is any less or more Christian than any other Christ-based denomination, they are just offering a different perspective on some things.

SG
I too am a Mennonite. I understand Mark's desire to separate church and state, and can understand that his church may want to express this desire by not singing Star Spangled Banner in the church or the denominational school.

Lisa and Don
In reference to Mennonites being a cult, they are very mainstream and don't differ a whole lot from Presbyterian or Baptist. Our focus is on PEACE above all, is that so wrong? The remarks and opinions of our pastor, a highly tech savvy and intelligent person who has traveled the world in the mission field are justified. He goes to work, takes care of his family, pays his taxes, obeys the law, and drives an Accord not a buggy. And just as he is our pastor, and it is our church, we can disagree anytime we want and still feel right at home. For the church is not God, just a family of believers, and like any family, can have a diverse mix.

Others, including some Christians, defended the singing of the national anthem. Some said it comported just fine with Christianity:

J.Snider
"...we testify with our lives that freedom is not a right that is granted or defended with rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. True freedom is given by God, and it is indeed not free. It comes with a cost, and it looks like a cross."

I agree with most of your opinion. You don't want to sing the anthem? Good on you. You love your country and your God? Good on you. But that previous statement is a bit much. If the cross is what provides freedom, why has it been cause of so much death and destruction? Why are there so many countries who base their governments off of the cross that do not grant their citizens freedom? I was raised a Christian. I think that core Christian values are similar to the values of almost all religions; good ideals for any person to follow. I think the majority of Christians are good people, just like I think the majority of all people are good people.

But I do know that there is the minority, who are bad people, and will take measures to take away freedom. The sad and simple truth is, these measures are not stopped by a cross. Unfortunately, they are stopped with the rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air. To say what you said in that statement is to greatly disrespect every man or woman who has ever lost their life fighting to protect the freedom of others.

Weezer1107
The Star Spangled Banner was written to commemorate the triumph of the U.S. over the British during the Battle of Baltimore Harbor. Francis Scott Key composed it after seeing OUR flag still flying over Ft. McHenry following an intense battle. Our national anthem is testimony to God's protection over us. I agree, God is the giver of freedom. However, many countries have taken away that right from its citizens. Every time our anthem is sung, we honor God who gave us the freedom and the brave men and women of our military who have sacrificed their lives so that we may retain it.

RV1982
I am a Christian, and I do put God first in my life. However, I am also a citizen of the United States, and as a citizen I have responsibilities to my country. Singing a national anthem does not imply my devotion to my country is greater than my devotion to my God. There are no laws in the United States that coerce me to put country ahead of my God, or for that matter to sin against my God. In fact, that is what the national anthem in the United States is all about...singing about the survival of a country, or an idea the country was founded on, which allows me the freedom to put my God first.

Others challenged the author's assertion that a true separation of church and state prevents Mennonites from singing the national anthem:

Sandy Fleming
I get separation of Church and state, but a football stadium is not a Church. If Mennonites do not want to have a flag in their church no problem. Explain to me where separation starts. Obviously not at the doors of the Church. If you believe this to be true you should not play sports against and state schools or accept any tax breaks from the state.

Rob
So what you're saying is you can't be Christian and patriotic at the same time?

Freedomsinger
Hey Mark, it's this type of thinking that divides nations and creates civil unrest.
And can't we believe in god without all the drama religions create in society?

- Liane Membis

Filed under: Church and state

soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Zelda

    CNN, did I offend Americans or liberals that bad? I don't like doing things people don't want me to and it's your news site anyway. Tell me if you don't want me to blog in your news site. Just don't play tricks on me. CNN, let me log out, because I can't comment on your regular news site anyway.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Don't get lost in the dark woods of religion

      Zelda, I did not think you could get any crazier, but you showed me up and did it. Good for you!

      June 28, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Zelda

      @Don't-, Religion is not dark but Christianity is liberating. Where are normal Americans nowadays? They were a lot more normal and humane back in 50's even with all their racism.

      June 28, 2011 at 6:29 am |
    • Zelda

      I am a Christian and cannot be crazy. Non Christians are crazy and will suffer for eternity.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • True Friend

      The third Zelda is a fake.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:20 am |
  2. Zelda

    CNN, I logged in, in order to comment on Cambodia and then I can't log out. You still keep me unable to comment in regular news and this time don't allow me to log out. CNN, why do you do this to me? This is the second time. If you don't want me to comment on your news site, tell me so plainly.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • CNN Moderator

      Go elsewhere to leave comments.

      June 28, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • Everyone Is Out To Get You! Hidden Cameras Everywhere!!!

      It's a vast conspiracy, Zelda.

      We're watching you.

      You are so very important to us that we have assembled a team of thousands to make your blogging difficult.

      Everyone is out to get you.

      June 28, 2011 at 3:43 am |
    • Zelda

      All right, guys. Media bully, too. It's a fact.

      June 28, 2011 at 6:30 am |
  3. Reality

    One more time, Mennonites- too much inbreeding

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00359580

    Next topic!!!
    ----------------------------------------

    June 27, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  4. Michael

    Whats the big deal?

    June 27, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  5. John Salt

    Go next

    June 27, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  6. James Black

    FUUUUUUUUUUUUU

    June 27, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  7. Marie Kidman

    It is amazing how upset people get over these issues. lol

    June 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  8. Nocordoba

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfR8hSHQHD8&w=640&h=360]

    June 27, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  9. Nocordoba

    4th verse of the anthem look it up

    June 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  10. J.A.R.

    For those who want to know the truth about the bible's view of singing any nation's anthem, please check out the following:

    Jehovah's Witnesses – Courageous in the Face of Nazi Peril
    http://www.watchtower.org/e/19980708/article_01.htm

    Should You Believe Everything You Hear?
    http://www.watchtower.org/e/20000622/article_02.htm

    June 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  11. Ted M.

    The separation of church and state is not a complete separation.
    When a religion violates the law, the state has a vested interest in prosecuting the criminals involved regardless of the religious values involved.
    Nobody is being forced to sing or listen to music here. Every American has the right to free speech. That takes care of this "Star Spangled Banner" problem.
    No, the problem here is the Mennonite community thinking their religious values trump our nation's secular laws.
    That is the real problem here.
    And that is also one of the biggest problems with religious values. So many people think they trump everything.
    They don't. They are insane to think so.

    June 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "No, the problem here is the Mennonite community thinking their religious values trump our nation's secular laws"
      -------------–
      What law are they breaking?

      June 28, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Ted M.

      I did not say they were breaking any laws. Perhaps you should try reading my post again.

      June 28, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  12. Reality

    One more time, Mennonites- too much inbreeding

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00359580

    Next topic!!!

    June 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  13. Daniel Haszard

    Jehovah's Witnesses and the flag salute.

    I was born into the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1957.I was the good little JW boy who got beaten up in the school yard for not saluting the flag and remaining seated for the Star Spangled Banner as demanded by my defiant Jehovah's Witnesses leaders.

    This was the better dead than red era of the 1960’s, I suffered much,only to learn that the Watchtower corporation is just another made up man-made religion and not the true one.
    Kids suffer because of arbitrary rules by Jehovah's Witnesses leaders,senile old men sequestered in their insulated ivory tower.

    Danny Haszard

    June 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • JW

      Oh when people say JW they mean jehovah witness I kept thinking they were talking to me LOL

      June 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "Kids suffer because of arbitrary rules by Jehovah's Witnesses leaders,senile old men sequestered in their insulated ivory tower."
      ----------–
      But they shouldn't have to suffer, and the suffering wasn't caused by the JW leadership. People should be tolerant of other's beliefs. I'm an atheist, so I'm with you on the whole man-made thing, but if a kid gets beat up on the playgroup because he's a JW, a hindu, or a vegan, it really shouldn't matter. The problem is the bully, not the kid or his values.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  14. GSA

    All one Earth, an imaginary line on a map will not decide where ppl's loyalties are. The sooner we can get past this feeling of patriotism the sooner our problems can start to be looked at in a realistic way and solutions can begin.
    That being said, GO CANADA!!! I mean go Canada...I forgot as a Canadian I am not supposed to be so loud and in your face with my love for my country.

    June 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  15. JJ in CT

    It's interesting that the author of the opinion piece notes that Mennonites are advocates for peace. They choose not to sing the national anthem at a football game because it refers to war. Football is an inherently violent game, which is essentially a tactical war game. They have their right to abstain, but this seems pretty hypocritical.

    "Man-made, blood-soaked borders....." What about the blood on the 50 yard line?

    June 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • JW

      Football is a game. People die in wars.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Stevie7

      I think any reasonable person can see the difference between a sport and war. Generally, football doesn't claim a lot of innocence victims. And people don't really die very often.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • JJ in CT

      People also don't die singing songs.

      Although my ears bleed when I hear Justin Bieber.....

      Just to note, I love football, but don't see the rationality of their decision in light of the situation.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • JJ in CT

      Although I guess songs can cause pain:

      "With tales of brave Ulysses
      How his naked ears were tortured
      By the sirens sweetly singing..."

      June 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • News Flash

      Football is a testosterone laced substi'tute for war.
      "Invade their territory"
      "Do battle with"
      "On the attack"
      warpaint
      Etc., etc., etc.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • margot707

      I didn't see the article and thought the objection was because of all the prayer stuff going on. Football is turning into an outdoor prayer meeting with intermittent violence.

      June 27, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  16. Ted M.

    So most of the problem is, yet again, simply people's tendencies toward identifying with a group and actively projecting their group "values" in such a way that conflicts are sure to arise, at least for those groups that have values that are not realistic enough to avoid this common problem.
    As religious values are not realistic and have no rational basis, they can have no primacy over realistic and rational values when dealing with the real world and should therefore be considered null and void when making real-world decisions.

    June 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • JW

      Are you arguing that we should not have freedom of religion?

      June 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "people's tendencies toward identifying with a group and actively projecting their group "values" in such a way that conflicts are sure to arise"
      --------------------
      This groups values have absolutely zero impact on anyone else. Why does anyone even care? Religion, in this case, is just a side note. A group should be able to hold its own values without any conflict so long as those values don't interfere with anyone else or break any laws. It seems that the only reason there is conflict is because people who are totally unaffected by this group want to raise a fit.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • JW

      I agree with Stevie. Mennonites are the most tolerant and accepting group in the Christian religion. These people arent trying to force others to not sing the national anthem or say the pledge.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Ted M.

      Freedom of religion is the freedom to be irrational, schizophrenic, insane, delusional, and foolish.

      I'm not saying you don't have that right. I'm saying religious values cannot be used in a rational manner as they are irrational to begin with, and thus should never be used for real-world decision-making.
      But they are, of course. People make irrational decisions every day based on their irrational religious values. They shouldn't, but there is no way to stop people from being irrational at this time.
      Take a Muslim suicide bomber – a Muslim who has made several irrational choices in his / her real-world decision-making is now a very dangerous threat to other people. There was no way to stop this person from being irrational, and now their religious values have "led" them into making irrational decisions that violate secular law as they have interpreted their religious values as being supreme over secular law.
      In this regard, a religious person does the irrational due to their irrational religious values that are not realistic nor do they deserve any respect. They may feel they have the "freedom of religion" to wear an explosive-filled vest, but they really don't, as this violates secular law in addition to being based on irrational religious values.
      Freedom doesn't mean you are allowed to violate secular law. Freedom in this country depends on secular law.
      You cannot violate what protects you. Doing so nullifies your protection as a matter of course.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "People make irrational decisions every day based on their irrational religious values. They shouldn't, but there is no way to stop people from being irrational at this time."

      Ted, ppl can make irrational choices without any religious values. You are merely copping out here from the truth to get your biased opinion out.

      June 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Ted M.

      -Uncouth Swain-
      You are correct. Everyone makes the occasional irrational decision. I did not say that they didn't.
      I am "biased" as you call it, in favor of equality for everyone.

      Equality is the antlthesis, some might say, of bias.
      Equality for all is not biased in anyone's particular favor. I feel this is a strong position and a rational one.
      Do you support equality under the law or do you not?

      June 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "Do you support equality under the law or do you not?"

      I have no reason not to.

      June 27, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Ted M.

      -Uncouth Swain-
      What if you felt you had a "reason" to be against equality under the law?
      Where would you be then?
      You would be without the support of the law.

      June 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Ted- "What if you felt you had a "reason" to be against equality under the law?
      Where would you be then?
      You would be without the support of the law."

      You are doing quite a bit of what ifs here. Do you have a real example to give or are you trying to play a gotcha game?

      June 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Ted M.

      -Uncouth Swain-
      Perhaps you are not following these legal arguments to their logical conclusion.
      I was making observations. You are the one needing clarification, I guess.
      If that's a "gotcha" game to you, then where's your refutation of my arguments?
      You keep asking questions without addressing what I have said.
      If you want to discuss things, it seems to me that you need to hold up your end of the conversation in a more conversational way and engage instead of using avoidance tactics.

      June 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Ted- I am sorry but it is you that needs to pay attention. I already answered your question once and said I have no reason. That wasn't good enough and you asked the question in a modified way with a "what if" I had a reason. I still don't have any reason not to obey the laws of the land.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  17. Uncouth Swain

    I haven't said the Pledge or sang the anthem in years. What's the big deal?

    June 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • JW

      I haven't either. I guess it is more about the principle since I am Mennonite.

      June 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      I'm just reular ol Christian and never seen the point in proclaiming loyalty to a nation. Displayed loyalty isn't needed from me to be a citizen of this nation.

      June 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • JW

      Yeah that is part of the reason why Mennonites feel the way they do about this. How is it proving I am loyal for me to say the pledge of allegiance if you tell me I have to do it to be loyal?

      June 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  18. JW

    This issue is actually interesting because there are Christians and atheists on both sides

    June 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Indeed.

      June 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  19. The Bobinator

    What everyone missed is that a God who is all knowing cannot allow people to have free will or freedom. It's simply the illusion of freedom. God knows what you're doing tomorrow, the day after next, and the day after that.

    But also given that God directly made humans, he alone bears the responsibility for humans not living up to the standard he insists upon.

    It's like making a wooden shoe, knowing it wouldn't be comfortable and then saying "Stupid shoe, I damn you for not being comfortable." It's nonsensical and stupid.

    June 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "who is all knowing cannot allow people to have free will "

      That's false. Just because one may know what is going to happen does not mean the one in action does not have free will. Look at a DVD recording of 9/11. Sure we the viewer of the DVD knows what is going to happen as we watch it. But the actions of those on the DVD are actions of their own. Simply put, free will is not negated by knowledge.

      June 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Uncouth Swain

      Bobinator said: "who is all knowing cannot allow people to have free will "

      You said: "That's false. Just because one may know what is going to happen does not mean the one in action does not have free will."

      No, it is true. Note:

      Christians say, "Free will is given to man, by God". Each person can choose to accept god's love and spend eternity in Heaven or to reject god and spend eternity being tortured in Hell. How is that freedom of choice when it is the same thing as The Godfather, making you an offer you cannot refuse?

      The problem with free will is, that Christians have insisted on their god being Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent.
      No god can be all three at the same time. The attributes contradict each other.

      If god knows what He will do in the future and because He is Omnipotent, does something else, then He is not omniscient.
      If god knows what He will do in the future and cannot do something else, then He is not omnipotent.
      See the problem?

      If God knows the future, if the future can be known, that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.
      This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it.

      Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.
      Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient. Same goes for Peter.
      The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice.

      When Moses was attempting to secure the release of the Jews, from Egypt, God repeatedly "hardens Pharaoh's heart". God did not allow Pharaoh to release the Jews, until He had delivered His 10 plagues upon the Egyptian people. Pharaoh didn't have free will.

      Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.
      The fulfillment of a prophecy cannot be left to random chance.

      What about the child who is murdered by a monster, or a people slaughtered by a stronger opponent (or a god)?
      Did they choose to be harmed? Where was their free will? These acts show that the strong or the people in power have greater free will than their victims. Hmmm... See how this fits in with the free will / god exists thingy?

      If god has a "plan for each of us", if there is an agenda, then that pretty much rules out free will.

      Jeremiah 29:11
      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

      "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]

      You might argue, that while god has a plan for each of us, He doesn't force us to follow this plan. The problem with this argument, is that if a person does not follow god's plan, it may affect my ability to follow god's plan. A drunk driver may run me down. A robber may shoot me.

      Ephesians 1:11 "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

      "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

      The 5 point Calvinists believe our fates are sealed, even before we are born. This would mean that god allows humans to be born, knowing they will someday burn forever. Seems wrong to me, even for a mysterious god.

      There is no evidence that a god gives or safeguards free will.

      Humans have free will not because of god, but because god does not exist.

      Cheers!

      June 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @David Johnson
      Agree with everything but it is instructive to examine the point about prophesy. Besides "telling the future" a prophet is equally, (maybe even originally), one who speaks "truth to power" in the biblical tradition, ie is one who speaks or writes by, (supposedly) by divine inspiration. Their function was to go before the king and tell him he was off base. The crystal ball thing was not the original function of a prophet. "When a man prophesies, it is because the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him." Nitpicking perhaps, but the Hollywood idea of a prophet was not the original one.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "Christians say, "Free will is given to man, by God". Each person can choose to accept god's love and spend eternity in Heaven or to reject god and spend eternity being tortured in Hell. How is that freedom of choice when it is the same thing as The Godfather, making you an offer you cannot refuse?"

      ~Choice is choice, whether you like the results of your actions or not. On the hell issue, I don't focus on that because it isn't important. Following God isn't about Heaven or Hell but on either having or not having a relationship with God.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "The problem with free will is, that Christians have insisted on their god being Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent.
      No god can be all three at the same time. The attributes contradict each other."

      ~You have a problem, I don't believe God is Omnibenevolent. At least, not in the sense I would guess you mean. Unlike some I do not ignore the parts of the Bible that focuses on God's Justice. I doubt you can find benevolent in the Bible to describe God but you can find wrath and justice. Come on....you know you made up "omnibenevolent".

      "If god knows what He will do in the future and because He is Omnipotent, does something else, then He is not omniscient.
      If god knows what He will do in the future and cannot do something else, then He is not omnipotent.
      See the problem?"

      ~There is no problem. You ignore the part where God is described as the same in past, present and future. He is not effected by time...time is effected by him.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "If God knows the future, if the future can be known, that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.
      This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it."

      ~Again, God is not effected by the layout of Time. Time is effected by Him. And as before, God's perception of existence does not effect ours. Just because God knows the results does not mean we do not have control over our choices. Knowing the results does not wipe out the choice.

      "Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.
      Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient. Same goes for Peter.
      The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice."

      ~The results were known...yes. But they still had free will. Heck, you might as well ask if Jesus didn't say anything...would Judas and Peter done as they did? Feel like we are in the Matrix now...lol.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "When Moses was attempting to secure the release of the Jews, from Egypt, God repeatedly "hardens Pharaoh's heart". God did not allow Pharaoh to release the Jews, until He had delivered His 10 plagues upon the Egyptian people. Pharaoh didn't have free will."

      ~I think you are a bit confused over the idea of a "hardened heart". God may have sent the causes of Pharoh's hardened heart, but Pharaoh let his heart become hardened. As many of us know, it's not till we hit rock bottom that we finally see the world for how it is. Pharaoh was not a god.

      "Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.
      The fulfillment of a prophecy cannot be left to random chance."

      ~Again, knowing the results does not mean choice has been eliminated from the equation.

      June 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      ""You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]"

      ~Again, knowing the results does not wipe away free will. Off the topic, would you use this to say no to abortions?

      "You might argue, that while god has a plan for each of us, He doesn't force us to follow this plan. The problem with this argument, is that if a person does not follow god's plan, it may affect my ability to follow god's plan. A drunk driver may run me down. A robber may shoot me."

      ~As I said before, free will doesn't not exist in a bubble. Our choices are di*ctated by varying actions of others. If you think free will means co*mpletely free of all outside forces...then you have a wrong idea about free will.

      "Ephesians 1:11 "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.""

      ~As before, knowing the results does not wipe away free will. Choice still exists.

      "The 5 point Calvinists believe our fates are sealed, even before we are born. This would mean that god allows humans to be born, knowing they will someday burn forever. Seems wrong to me, even for a mysterious god."

      ~Thank goodness I'm not a Calvinist.

      "There is no evidence that a god gives or safeguards free will."

      ~Does that matter?

      "Humans have free will not because of god, but because god does not exist."

      Incorrect, free will is simply what it is. It is a part of the human condition. It is not dictated to by God. No where in the Bible does it say that our choices are the result of God's choices. Knwoing the results does not wipe away our ability to act. As for God and his existence...you may believe as you will. It is your choice.

      Shalom!

      June 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Incorrect, free will is simply what it is. It is a part of the human condition. It is not dictated to by God.

      But it is, you just haven't thought it through. Tell me, are humans as smart as God? No? Then God must have made the minds of humans inferior to his. Thereby limiting the choices we can make. This is evidence that God constrains the freedoms that we are allowed to enjoy.

      If God creates everything knowing how everything will turn out, then we do not have the ability to deviate from his plan and therefore do not have a choice. It only appears that we do.

      > No where in the Bible does it say that our choices are the result of God's choices.

      So what? The situations described when matched with the properties given to God by the bible cause these contradictions. So it's the bible's claim that God is omniscient and perfect vs. the claim that God allows us to have free will.

      God existing outside of time has absolutely nothing to do with it. If God is perfect and knows all, he knows what you will do, based on his plan, the creation of the universe and the laws contained within. That's the point. God either knows what decision you will make or God does not. You cannot have it both ways.

      If God does know, we do not have free will. If God does not know, he's not omnipotent and therefore not perfect.

      > Knwoing the results does not wipe away our ability to act. As for God and his existence...you may believe as you will. It is your choice.

      Knowing the results does not. But creating something knowing the results DOES. That's what God did.

      The problem here is that either you're a troll or clearly haven't given this much thought. Think about it again and come back.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > That's false. Just because one may know what is going to happen does not mean the one in action does not have free will. Look at a DVD recording of 9/11. Sure we the viewer of the DVD knows what is going to happen as we watch it. But the actions of those on the DVD are actions of their own. Simply put, free will is not negated by knowledge.

      You are a troll or a moron.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      First off...I am sorry that I dare challenge you and got you upset. It's the only reason I can come up with you calling me a troll when you are the one acting like a troll. But let us go to what you are trying to say:

      "But it is, you just haven't thought it through. Tell me, are humans as smart as God? No? Then God must have made the minds of humans inferior to his. Thereby limiting the choices we can make. This is evidence that God constrains the freedoms that we are allowed to enjoy."

      ~You are an dolt and I am surprised at myself in saying this of you. I have normally found your responses more interesting and less insulting for no good reason. I have thought this through. Just because I do not agree with you doesn't make me wrong on this. God made us human...we have human minds. No one ever said they were omni____ fill in the blank. Being what we are is not inferior or superior. We are that which God has made. And just because we are limited by the conditions of our existence does not mean that we cannot make choices. Free will never has meant open to all possiblities. No one has ever said anything like that ever. Not in the Bible or in philosophy.
      You say our free will is limited by God? You don't believe in God, has your free will suddenly opened up to realms beyond? No? Gasp...sounds like your free will is limited and you believe their is no God. Kinda odd eh?

      "If God creates everything knowing how everything will turn out, then we do not have the ability to deviate from his plan and therefore do not have a choice. It only appears that we do."

      ~You are still incorrect. One's perception does not make dictate our ability to make choices or what is true. When you watch America's Funniest Home videos...you know someone is going to get hurt. That never changes the fact that they made choices of their own free will.

      "> No where in the Bible does it say that our choices are the result of God's choices.
      So what? The situations described when matched with the properties given to God by the bible cause these contradictions. So it's the bible's claim that God is omniscient and perfect vs. the claim that God allows us to have free will."

      ~So far, you have gotten the properties of God wrong. No where does the Bible say God is perfect. I suggest you might want to study a bit more. Or are you letting your limited knowledge of the Bible effect your comments? It's really hard to take you seriously when you can't get the basics down.

      "God existing outside of time has absolutely nothing to do with it. If God is perfect and knows all, he knows what you will do, based on his plan, the creation of the universe and the laws contained within. That's the point. God either knows what decision you will make or God does not. You cannot have it both ways."

      ~Duh, but you have yet to show why someone knowing how it will end effects your free will. The effect does not make the cause. Our causes create effects. Knowing the effects does not take away from the ability to make choices and bring about cause.

      "If God does know, we do not have free will. If God does not know, he's not omnipotent and therefore not perfect."

      No matter how many times you say it, it doesn't make it true. You have yet to show why knowing a result eliminates free will. Does God's knowing force your actions to meet with the results? No.

      "> Knwoing the results does not wipe away our ability to act. As for God and his existence...you may believe as you will. It is your choice.
      Knowing the results does not. But creating something knowing the results DOES. That's what God did."

      ~No...it doesn't. This isn't like writing a last page a story and then building the story around that ending. The ending is the results of choices made by us. God knowing how it ends does not take our ability to act away.

      "The problem here is that either you're a troll or clearly haven't given this much thought. Think about it again and come back."

      Ditto.

      Shalom!

      June 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "You are a troll or a moron."

      I am sorry Bob...if my example blew your argument out of the water. You do realize that commenting just to get an emotional response makes you a troll correct? Puae and think on it.

      Cheers 😉

      June 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "Puae and think on it."

      Oops, meant...Pause and think on it.

      June 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Uncouth Swain
      I said: "The problem with free will is, that Christians have insisted on their god being Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnibenevolent.
      No god can be all three at the same time. The attributes contradict each other."

      You responded: "You have a problem, I don't believe God is Omnibenevolent. At least, not in the sense I would guess you mean. Unlike some I do not ignore the parts of the Bible that focuses on God's Justice. I doubt you can find benevolent in the Bible to describe God but you can find wrath and justice. Come on....you know you made up "omnibenevolent".

      Nope, didn't make it up.
      omnibenevolent
      1.All-loving, or infinitely good, usually in reference to a deity or supernatural being, for example, 'god'. Its use is often with regards to the divine triad, whereby a deity is described to be simultaneously omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. This triad is used especially with the Christian god, Jehovah. The omnibenevolent God, by definition, was unable to withhold forgiveness from his people.

      These verses, speak of god's love and goodness (Omnibenevolence):
      1 John 4:8 King James Version (KJV)
      8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

      Ephesians 2:7 King James Version (KJV)
      7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

      John 3:16 King James Version (KJV)
      16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      It doesn't matter if you believe god is all good or not. The Omniscience and Omnipotence are still not compatible.
      So, I don't have a problem. LOL.

      I said: "If god knows what He will do in the future and because He is Omnipotent, does something else, then He is not omniscient.
      If god knows what He will do in the future and cannot do something else, then He is not omnipotent.
      See the problem?"

      You responded: "There is no problem. You ignore the part where God is described as the same in past, present and future. He is not effected by time...time is effected by him."

      If the future can be seen by god, If the future can be known, then it cannot be changed. If it can be changed then what god saw as the future, before it was changed, was not really the future. Understand? To be omniscient, means to know the past, present and future. But if you (or god) can change the future, then you are not omniscient. Being omniscient, means you are seeing the final result.

      Do you understand?

      Cheers!

      June 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Uncouth Swain

      I said: "If God knows the future, if the future can be known, that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.
      This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it."

      You responded: "Just because God knows the results does not mean we do not have control over our choices. Knowing the results does not wipe out the choice."

      If god is all knowing, and the future can be known, everything is predetermined. If god knows the results then the results cannot be changed. God already knows what your choices will be. They are set...even before you were born.

      I said: "Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.
      Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient. Same goes for Peter.
      The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice."

      You said: "The results were known...yes. But they still had free will. Heck, you might as well ask if Jesus didn't say anything...would Judas and Peter done as they did? Feel like we are in the Matrix now...lol."

      If Judas had chosen NOT to betray Christ, it would have meant Christ / god was not all knowing. Judas had no choice.

      Cheers!

      June 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Uncouth Swain

      I said:"When Moses was attempting to secure the release of the Jews, from Egypt, God repeatedly "hardens Pharaoh's heart". God did not allow Pharaoh to release the Jews, until He had delivered His 10 plagues upon the Egyptian people. Pharaoh didn't have free will."

      You said: "I think you are a bit confused over the idea of a "hardened heart". God may have sent the causes of Pharoh's hardened heart, but Pharaoh let his heart become hardened. As many of us know, it's not till we hit rock bottom that we finally see the world for how it is. Pharaoh was not a god."

      No, I'm not confused. God interfered with Pharaoh's free will. God hardened his heart. God did not allow him to let the Jews go. If god could harden Pharaoh's heart, could He have not softened it also?

      I said: "Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.
      The fulfillment of a prophecy cannot be left to random chance."

      You said: "Again, knowing the results does not mean choice has been eliminated from the equation."

      It does mean choice is eliminated. Everyone, every event would have to play their part, in order for prophecy to come true. Think about it!

      Cheers!

      June 27, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "for God is love."

      Well..this will be simple. Where does it say that God is "only" love? To be "omni" means to be only. The Bible does not ever say God is only love. In fact, the Bible gives many attributes to God that not be described as love. So...God is not Omnibenevolent.

      "The Omniscience and Omnipotence are still not compatible."

      Why? Because you say so? Your example does not make sense. Because has chosen a direction..an action....that does not mean he cannot do something. He has chosen his direction out of the infinite. Do you understand? Making a choice and acting upon it doesn't mean God cannot be omnipotent...in fact, because out of all possiblilties he has chosen one shows he is omnipotent.

      Shalom!

      June 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "If god is all knowing, and the future can be known, everything is predetermined. If god knows the results then the results cannot be changed. God already knows what your choices will be. They are set...even before you were born. "

      I see one problem, you are using the wrong terminolgy. What you are saying is there is no choice but only actions. So quit saying choices and say actions ok? Your own words are being used incorrectly for what you are trying to prove.

      Knowing your actions does not mean you did not choose those actions...that is why they are choices.

      As for Judas, he chose to do what he did. If he had no choice, then their would have been no guilt because he had no control....he did feel guilt. Therefor he made his choice. Got it?

      Shalom!

      June 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "No, I'm not confused. God interfered with Pharaoh's free will. God hardened his heart. God did not allow him to let the Jews go. If god could harden Pharaoh's heart, could He have not softened it also? "

      Yeah..you are. You got this odd idea that free will exists in a bubble. Outside of stimulus. It doesn't.
      You also didn't give a thought that even when Pharoah's heart was softer as it were, he didn't let the Hebrews go now did he? Think on it.

      Shalom!

      June 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "It does mean choice is eliminated. Everyone, every event would have to play their part, in order for prophecy to come true. Think about it! "

      I have but it seems you haven't done enough thinking. You have this idea that the end of the book is written first and the story is written out to conform to the ending. It's not. Cause and effect. God knows the causes, he knows their effects. His knowing does not make the cause and/or the effect. They are separate.

      Shalom!

      June 27, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Now, now kids! There is actually a huge Christian literature on the issues of divine omniscience, free will and that true wonder of Christian nitwittery known as predestinationism. If nothing else puts you off omniscient gods and theology thereof, even reading a mere summary of the controversies within the church on these matters will do it for sure. It all makes you want to shout: You are ALL wrong! God neither knows nor directs our actions because this thing you are theorizing about that you call god simply doesn't exist!!!

      Well, that's my reaction. But the stuff is amazing for all the arcane reasoning over an issue that arises an omniscient busy body of a god for which there is exactly zero credible evidence. Straining at gnats and swallowing camels indeed.

      But my point in bringing this up is that both sides of the debate raging on this subthread have been argued by different schools of thought within Christianity.

      June 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @John Richardson- Thank you for saying in your own long "hey look at me, I'm smart and have an opinion" kind of way....there is more information on this subject.
      I think Bob, David and I have touched on this.

      June 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Uncouth Swain No, I wasn't just saying that there is more info on this. I was trying to imply in a politely indirect way that it's kinda silly to think that you are going to settle here and now a doctrinal dispute that remains unsettled in Christian theology to this day. Different sects went different ways on this very matter and some related issues. Now, I'm quite sure that Bobinator, David Johnson and Bucky Ball would tend to agree with my assessment that all the doctrinal hair pulling and eye gouging on this matter was and continues to be as ludicrous as one would expect something to be that arises from the belief in an omniscient personal god deeply involved in how individual lives play out. I suspect that YOU are trying to make the notion of an omniscient, involved personal god seem respectable, which it isn't.

      June 27, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, and you don't here Christians themselves bringing these matters up. And I suspect that is because all of the logically rigorous positions that have been worked out all seem pretty odious. So the silence is not due to any conviction that the issues have been settled satisfactorily even within any one sect, but rather to a realization that all attempted solutions come out seeming pretty creepy and the whole issue is best swept under the rug, as reflection on it threatens to undermine the premise of an omniscient, beneficent, all powerful and deeply involved personal god. And that's a shame. Because that premise is indeed the deepest of all of the fallacies underlying Christianity.

      June 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Uncouth Swain

      You said: "Well..this will be simple. Where does it say that God is "only" love? To be "omni" means to be only. The Bible does not ever say God is only love. In fact, the Bible gives many attributes to God that not be described as love. So...God is not Omnibenevolent."

      Omni means "ALL" You are thinking of "UNI" . LOL

      omni-Combining form1. All; of all things: "omniscient".
      2. In all ways or places: "omnicompetent"; "omnipresent".

      You cannot understand why omniscience and omnipotence are not compatible, because you don't understand what the two attributes mean.

      bye!

      June 27, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > First off...I am sorry that I dare challenge you and got you upset.

      You are a poor troll. Next time I would suggest you try being less confrontational directly to the person. That's what Christians do. Poe's law makes trolling as a christian kinda pointless, more of the "entry level" sort of trolling that inexperienced trolls like yourself engage in.

      I'd also say that your responses are too... intelligently stupid to be believable. Like saying that if we watch 9/11 (a past event) they have free will, and this is no different then God. It's almost poeticially stupid, the hallmark of a troll.

      June 28, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @John- "Oh, and you don't here Christians themselves bringing these matters up. And I suspect that is because all of the logically rigorous positions that have been worked out all seem pretty odious. So the silence..."

      You must not be talking to the right Christians. I've known many that talk on such topics.

      June 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @David-
      "Omni means "ALL" You are thinking of "UNI" . LOL"

      True but in the manner you have been using it you have also meant it to be "only"...lol. Have you not? All through this you have implied that since God is supposably all loving he cannot be anything else. That would mean you feel he is all and only love. Unless you have been in error with your writing.

      "You cannot understand why omniscience and omnipotence are not compatible, because you don't understand what the two attributes mean."

      Yes..I understand. You merely saying I don't does not change the reality of the situation. But it's nice that you seem to try. Again, chosing a direction does not mean that God was not able to choose any other direction. He merely made a choice to stick with. This does not mean he limited himself.
      If you can't accept that, think of the theories of a multiverse on par with quantum mechanics. God has made very choice.

      "bye!"
      I think you mean, "I am now running away". But whatever works for you.

      June 28, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Bob- "Next time I would suggest you try being less confrontational directly to the person."

      Ah..thank you for showing us just how big a hypocrite you are. It's refreshing to see one being so bold with how big a dolt they are. It's always so humorous when ppl who think they are logical and rational decide to use extremes like placing all Christians in a nice little idea. Any fool (except Bob) should know that it is illogical to use extremes in debating.

      You do realize that a concept of God is that he exist in all time...present, future and past. So my example still stands. I suggest you read a bit more on theology if you are wanting to join the adults on the topic.

      June 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Well, all in all, I don't mind not running into a bunch of latter day Cotton Mathers praising a god who chose in advance which souls would burn in hell forever, but I'd be curious to in what Christian circles issues of divine omniscience and prescience vis-a-vis free will and the fate of souls are discussed with anywhere near the fervor with which they were debated in the 1600s and thereabouts.

      June 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Well...the world is a different place than the one in the 1600's.
      Also, I believe that those who were talking on such matters back then didn't represent a very large % of the population. I would guess (and hope) that more ppl of today have a better understanding of the world and their own beliefs. Whatever they may be.

      June 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  20. JW

    It is amazing how upset people get over these issues.

    June 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      People of faith are only happy when others think the same way. Because if anyone thinks differently, gasp, it might mean that they'd have to defend their faith. Which they know they cannot do.

      June 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Bob-"People of faith are only happy when others think the same way."

      Incorrect as*sumption.

      June 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Really, so people of faith would be happier in a muslim group then their own faith? ROFL.

      June 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      It is funny isn't Bob...you failed to explain yourself fully in your first comment and look like an idiot now. It is really funny...lol.

      But since you have limited understanding of the human condition, I don't expect you to realize that those comfortable in their faith can be quite happy. No matter where they are. Obviously you are happy from your comment and you are not among those that believe the way you do. Thanks for showing how your statement is wrong.

      June 27, 2011 at 6:15 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.