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Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?
After avoiding talk about sex from the pulpit for years, pastors are now speaking out against porn.
August 21st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - He is a good Christian, Michael is telling his two therapists. He goes to church most Sundays. He’s a devoted husband and father of two daughters.

“But when I would leave on business trips,” he says, “I knew I was going to get to be someone else.”

“Prostitutes, porn - I took anything I wanted.”

Sitting on a comfortable, worn couch, Michael glances out the window and sees a reflection of himself set against the parking lot of this suburban Atlanta office building. He fidgets, runs his fingers over his closely cropped blond hair and straightens his green tennis polo. He clears his throat.

Above his head hangs a poster covered in words describing feelings - angry, anxious, sad. On it is a big yellow cross.

Therapists Richard Blankenship and Mark Richardson wear solemn but empathetic expressions. Certified counselors and Christian ministers, they tell him they know how to listen and nod for him to continue.

“I’ve had a record of purity since March when I confessed to my wife,” says Michael, whose name has been changed by CNN.com to protect his privacy. “No porn, no masturbation.”

“Awesome,” Richardson says, leaning forward in his chair. “God knows you’re trying.”

This is Michael’s second week at “Faithful and True – Atlanta” a 16-week counseling program that, like dozens of others like it around the country, combines traditional psychotherapy with the Bible in an attempt to treat addictive behavior.

Blankenship, a devout Christian who once struggled with sexual abuse, says his own ordeal has helped him to treat and “graduate” nearly 500 Christian men and women with similar addictions in the last five years.

He says he has helped people achieve what he calls “sobriety,” which means resisting porn and lustful thoughts.

Though controversial in secular circles, much of the evangelical Christian world has been cheering this relatively new kind of therapy. Many believers, including many Christian leaders, consider it a powerful tool for fighting what they say is one of the modern church’s biggest problems: porn addiction.

A crusade is born

Not long ago, it was unheard of for a pastor to talk about sex from the pulpit.

Today, clergy are talking about porn.

Many evangelical pastors say they don’t have a choice. The Internet has made porn unavoidable; it’s everywhere. And porn, they say, leads to a lack of intimacy in marriage, threatening the biblical mandate to get and stay married.

In the past few years, Christian leaders have established online ministries to tackle the problem, hosting anti-porn podcast sermons and Web chats. The popular evangelical blog Crosswalk.com recently ran an article headlined “How many porn addicts are in your church?”

Christian publishers, meanwhile, have produced a wave of recent books on the subject, including popular titles like “Porn-Again Christian,” “Secret Sexual Sins: Understanding a Christian's Desire for Pornography” and “Eyes of Integrity: The Porn Pandemic and How It Affects You.”

Evangelical pastor Jeremy Gyorke recently came forward to talk about how porn has affected him. In July, the 32-year-old confessed his porn addiction in a sermon at Wyandotte Family Church, just outside Detroit.

“I’m part of a generation of Christians who grew up keeping your mouth shut about your personal life,” he says. “Goodness no, we didn’t talk about sex.”

“But now that we have a little say in the attitude of the church, we’re taking a different approach,” Gyorke continues. “We’re putting it all out there, saying you don’t have to keep secrets. Come forward and admit that you’ve made a mistake, and you can be healed.”

Gyorke said he confessed to his congregation after his wife caught him looking at porn and told him it made her feel inadequate. She wanted him to seek help and to be transparent as a man of God.

Gyorke ultimately decided that viewing any porn, even once or twice, is a problem for believers.

“It’s like a gateway drug,” he says. “You can’t just have a little look. If you look at porn, you’ve already given your heart and spirit away to someone who isn’t your wife.”

As he wrote his sermon on the matter, Gyorke felt tremendous anxiety. “I thought it would make or break me to them as their pastor,” he says.

But his flock reacted with empathy and support. Several congregants approached him afterward to say that they, too, felt that they’d acted against God by looking at porn.

Different interpretations

Though the words “porn” and “masturbation” don’t appear in the Bible, Gyorke believes the biblical verdict is clear. “Sexual immorality is mentioned a lot in the Bible, and that is what porn is,” he says.

He quotes the Gospel of Matthew: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

“Porn is lust, and lust is a sin,” the pastor said.

Many religious scholars say that such a view reflects just one of many interpretations.

“One school of biblical study says that desire is a problem and needs to be monitored as a serious threat to salvation,” says Boston University theology professor Jennifer Wright Knust.

But Knust points to scriptural passages that appear to endorse sexual desire, including the Song of Solomon, a poem that some scholars say depicts two lovers graphically describing each other’s anatomy in an ode to unmarried sex.

“This is not new. It’s a cherry-picking of scripture used to address what’s happening right now in popular culture,” says Knust, author of the recent book “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions on Sex and Desire.” “The new thing is that it’s being used by so-called Christian therapists.”

Knust says the anti-porn trend in Christian therapy reflects new questions in broader society about what constitutes an appropriate relationship, about gender roles and rules, and about what marriage really means.

“People are concerned and confused, and want to know if God is speaking to us in our sexual roles,” she says. “Can we find answers in divine revelation? People have always hoped that there can be certainty in the Bible.

“There is no certainty,” she says. “It’s interpretation.”

XXX churches

A few weeks after delivering his confessional sermon, Gyorke organized a Sunday event at his church intended to help keep congregants away from pornography.

He gave out study guides with scriptural verses related to lust and showed a slick video from XXXChurch, the main Web-based group for the Christian anti-porn movement.

The video opens with a mock-pharmaceutical infomercial for a product called “Lustivin.” It raves about how wonderful the drug can make you feel in the short term but then lists some major side effects: premature relational difficulty, divorce, shallow relationships.

Craig Gross, a young pastor from California, co-founded XXXChurch.com in 2001. Its URL was meant to snag people who were surfing the Web for dirty pictures.

“Ten years ago, when I wanted to bring the church up to date, everyone was like, ‘This won’t work. People will be confused about what you’re doing,’ ” Gross says.

“It was controversial at the time, but the church is always behind the times,” he says. “We should have had a XXXChurch.com in the late 1990s if we really wanted to get ahead of this problem.”

The site was slow to catch on for its first few years, but now gets millions of clicks a day from IP addresses around the globe, Gross said.

This year, XXXChurch sponsored Porn Sunday, a national anti-porn event that included hundreds of churches across the country screening a video starring Matt Hasselbeck, who's now quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, and other Christian NFL stars.

Soundbites from the players speak to the struggle between porn and faith.

“Sex is an awesome thing that God designed,” Hasselbeck says in the video.

Jon Kitna, a Dallas Cowboys quarterback, talks about surfing the Web and getting deeper into porn sites. “[You] see this [link] and it leads you to a link to this … ” he says. “And pretty soon, I’m into a world that I never really knew existed.”

For $7 a month, XXXChurch offers porn-detection software that fires off automatic e-mail alerts to a subscriber and his or her chosen “faith buddy,” a kind of whistle-blowing system designed to keep Christians from going astray.

Achieving “sobriety”

But some Christians have gone much further in their attempts to tackle porn addictions, literally rearranging their lives.

When Jeff Colon, a self-described recovering porn addict in Kentucky, confessed his addiction to his wife, she told him to get help or find a divorce attorney.

It was the early 1990s. Christian sex addition counseling was unheard of. But Colon’s pastor - to whom he’d also confided - called other church leaders and learned of a Christian counseling retreat called Pure Life Ministries, a kind of Christian compound that includes a chapel and all-male dormitory on 44 acres in western Kentucky.

Today, Colon is the president of Pure Life, which he credits with saving his marriage.

He says the program has cured thousands of men of their porn addictions through a six- to 12-month program of one-on-one or group therapy sessions.

The live-in program costs $175 a week. Men must move to the campus and live alone, with wives having the option of talking to Pure Life counselors by phone. Most insurance plans don’t cover Pure Life - a moot concern, really, because most program participants quit their jobs to relocate.

That’s what Colon, who was working as an elevator repairman, did. “I don’t regret it for a second,” he says. “It was a hard time not because I lost my job or had to move from my family. It was a tough time because I had nearly lost my connection with God. That is what’s most important in life.”

Pure Life’s curriculum relies heavily on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, which stresses that if one lives “by the Spirit,” he will not “gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The scripture goes on to say that those who gratify the flesh “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Women are not allowed on campus during the initial phase of treatment.

“People who don’t follow Christ aren’t going to get what I’m saying, but it was like intense Bible study that helped me understand how selfish I am as a sinner,” Colon says. “Basically, you have time to talk to God, and for him to show you the way to sobriety. And I’ve been sober for 17 years.”

For Colon, sobriety means abstaining from looking at porn, masturbating and performing any other sex act not involving his spouse.

“You learn that lust is just a state of mind,” he says. “If you lust for someone other than your wife, what you do is replace that lust with prayer. And you have a heart change.”

Indeed, Colon says that God was central to his recovery.

“I know secular people don’t get it,” he says. “But if I had a sponsor who was just another person, a person who is fallible, telling me to stay clean, it’s just not as powerful as God telling me that.”

“Women … drowning in this addiction”

Men aren’t the only ones who have started thinking that way about porn.

According to the creator of accountability2you, a Web-based service that dumps all the pornographic material someone surfs into his or her spouse’s e-mail inbox, roughly half of his 10,000 monthly subscribers are women.

“The Christian Church has started to realize that we’re sexual, too, and we are just as visually stimulated as men and we look at porn,” said Crystal Renaud, author of the recent book “Dirty Girls Come Clean,” a memoir about her own addiction to porn.

For the past year, the 26-year-old with punky-streaked hair has led Christian women’s porn addiction counseling sessions. Her Dirty Girls Ministries website has 450 members.

“I’ve met women who will lock themselves in a room and look at porn all day, ignoring their kids or their jobs,” she says. “I feel like I can relate because that’s all I cared about, getting my high. There are so many more women out there drowning in this addiction, you have no idea.”

Though there are few statistics to support Renaud’s claims about the extent of the problem, Christian media outlets like Today’s Christian Woman have recently run stories about women consuming porn, often theorizing that the habit starts with explicit romance novels.

Renaud has received a sexual addiction counseling certification from the American Association of Christian Counselors, though she is not licensed by secular organizations like the American Psychological Association. She promotes a five-step program she’s devised called SCARS - Surrender, Confessional, Accountability, Responsibility, Sharing - which encourages women to confess to each other about their desire to look at porn as a means of saying no to it.

In her memoir, Renaud writes about becoming a chronic masturbator and porn addict at age 10, after stumbling upon a dirty magazine in her brother’s room. It was a confusing, scary experience, she writes.

“My mother made it very clear what the parameters were when it came to sex, and there wasn’t a discussion beyond that,” Renaud said. She describes her relationship with her father as rocky, but wouldn’t elaborate.

In high school, Renaud was a leader in her Christian youth group, but she was also interested in porn. “I felt so bad and I wanted to stop looking at porn because that wasn’t what the Bible instructed,” she says, “and I knew God didn’t want me doing that.”

When she was 18, Renaud arranged to have sex for the first time at a hotel with a person she met in a Christian chat room. She says she went to the hotel but broke down in tears in her room and left before meeting the man.

“That was my rock bottom,” she says. “I remember being there and sobbing, thinking, ‘What am I doing risking my life to meet someone at a hotel I don’t even know?’”

Renaud said that she depends on God to keep her clean and that God is a kind of sponsor or monitor. When she wants to look at porn or masturbate, she and God have a kind of conversation, and the desire passes.

A crusade’s critics

The father of Christian-based porn and sex addiction therapy has a word for this “pray-away” method of sobriety.

“Hooey.”

Dr. Mark Laaser pioneered the Christian response to porn and sex addiction in the 1980s and chides counseling centers like Pure Life for what he says is their near-total reliance on prayer.

“Alcoholics don’t wish really hard to not be addicted to alcohol,” he says in a phone interview from his busy therapeutic practice in suburban Minneapolis. “The field of addiction is much deeper than opening your Bible.”

He’s pleased that more Christians are openly talking about pornography and sex addiction, but Laaser says he’s concerned that some Christian leaders and therapists are confusing sexual sin with sex addiction.

“Men come dragging into my office because their wives have caught them masturbating and labeled them addicts, or they’ve had one affair and they are now looking to have their affair excused by addiction,” he says.

“One affair doesn’t mean you’re a porn addict,” Laaser says. “Looking at porn occasionally doesn’t make you a porn addict. Those may be poor decisions, but they are not necessarily caused by clinical addiction.”

Porn is estimated to be a multibillion-dollar industry in America alone, banking at least 10 times what it did in 1970, the first time the U.S. government evaluated the retail value of the nation’s then-fledgling hardcore film, television and retail market.

During that same decade, Laaser had become the porn industry’s ideal customer. He was constantly on the hunt for it.
As a devout Christian, he spent a lot of energy trying to keep his porn a secret, especially from his wife, Debbie. His guilt distanced him from her emotionally, he says, and began eroding their relationship.

At the time, there was virtually no established psychological research, or mainstream therapy, for sex addiction. So Laaser reached out to secular 12-step programs, using Alcoholics Anonymous’ framework as a guide to reaching what he called sexual “sobriety,” abstaining from sex outside of marriage and avoiding masturbation.

“I remember thinking I wish my problem were drinking because I could get help easier,” Laaser said.

By the late ’80s, Laaser says, he was on the road to sobriety, combining therapeutic methods he’d learned while pursuing a doctorate in psychology from the University of Iowa and a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.

“It began to seem very evident to me that secular therapy does not work as effectively for Christians,” he said. “And that’s because the secular world … to us as Christians, seems less moral. Sex is everywhere in secular society - television, film, billboards. It’s just so much a part of life that it is excused.

“Christians just aren’t going to seek out a secular therapist - they won’t seek therapy at all if they don’t have some aspect of Christianity woven into their treatment.”

In 1992, Laaser authored the first book on Christian sexual addiction, titled “The Secret Sin.”

“The Christian church, both Protestant and Catholic, is experiencing tremendous turmoil in the area of sexuality,” it began. “The problem seems epidemic.”

It sold barely enough copies to stay in print.

In 2005, the publisher changed the title to “Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction,” and Laaser added chapters on Internet porn. It has sold 75,000 copies.

In Laaser’s care, a patient will undergo psychiatric evaluation, just as he would in the secular world. Laaser wants to know if the patient has any symptoms of depression, ADHD or anxiety. He says many sex addicts suffer from other mental health issues.

“You may need to go to a meeting every day, or connect with a sponsor; you may need to check in with this office once a day,” he said. “Every client is different, but we’re essentially helping them establish boundaries and restrictions.”

Some secular therapists have warmed to this kind of approach.

“The deeply religious were a group that were hard to reach years ago because they had extreme shame connected with their addiction,” says Tim Lee, a licensed social worker in New York with a specialty in sex and porn addiction treatment.

But Lee and Pennsylvania sex therapist Dr. John Giugliano, both members of the Society for Sexual Advancement - a national nonprofit think tank of licensed sex therapists - worry that therapy can become overly focused on dogma and ignore the patient’s real-life issues.

“If you spend your time in session talking about what God thinks and what the Bible says, you don’t get to understand what the patient thinks and what happened in their life up to that point that explains why,” Giugliano says.

Even within the world of Christian therapy, some counselors criticize the methods of other religious counselors.

Richard Blankenship, the Atlanta-based Christian therapist, studied under Laaser in the early 2000s. When Blankenship set up his practice in Atlanta to treat sex addicts, he used the same name as Laaser’s ministry, “Faithful and True,” adding only the word “Atlanta.”

But Laaser wants to make it clear that he has no association with Blankenship’s practice and doesn’t agree with some aspects of Blankenship’s program.

Blankenship doesn’t rely enough on psychological expertise, Laaser says. Laaser objects to a therapist telling a patient that an addiction may be patterns repeated through generations, as Blankenship does. And Laaser disagrees with Blankenship’s habit of connecting a patient’s addiction to a biblical character’s family tree.

Abraham’s family tree

For the rest of his therapy session at Faithful and True, Michael circles emotions from a list that Richardson and Blankenship have provided. He circles “anxious” and then describes a fight he had with his wife about his infidelity.

Blankenship responds to Michael’s description of the fight by saying that addiction is generational, mentioning the Kennedys and the Fondas.

Then Blankenship queues up a PowerPoint presentation on a laptop, showing Michael a family tree he has designed around the biblical story of Abraham.

It has a lot of boxes. There are several pages.

Abraham, Blankenship says, was a guy who committed some sexual transgressions, like fathering a child with Hagar while his wife was barren. Ultimately, God forgave him.

Michael starts talking about his own family. He describes a difficult upbringing with a father whom he said was philandering and verbally abusive. He says sex wasn’t talked about at his house when he was growing up.

Before the session ends, Michael is assured that there’s no reason to think that he won’t kick his addiction. He’ll be on a new path, Blankenship says, toward “sexual integrity.”

The 90-minute session comes to a close with a prayer.

Blankenship and his co-counselor Mark Richardson lower their heads.

Richardson asks that God look after Michael. He asks God to bless this therapy process. Michael is heading out into the world, he says, heading back into a culture of temptation and lust and ungodly ways.

Look after him, the therapist says, keep him on the right path.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Sex

soundoff (3,536 Responses)
  1. Ohwow

    On the front page asks if their crusade confuses "sin and addiction". I'm sorry CNN, but there is nothing to confuse because there is no such thing as sin.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:14 am |
    • montyhall

      True statement if you're not a Christain. For me there is sin... I respect your view and hope you'll do the same for mine.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:27 am |
    • Clint

      Making something up and "believing" in it doesn't make it real. Your free to believe in it all you want, but it still isn't real.

      If we could change reality with our minds, boy would this be a messed up, upside down inside out world. Every time someone "believed" in something it would suddenly be real......like the stay puffed marhmellow man from ghostbusters.....

      August 21, 2011 at 4:52 am |
    • montyhall

      Clint – see above where I state I respect ohwow's opinion. It's my opinion that you're making a judgement that my belief is not real. That you are not respecting my faith. I can respect where you don't believe but please don't push your opinion/judgement onto me.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • Jeffrey

      But Monty, Christian religious fanatics are ALWAYS trying to push their beliefs on me. If you and your peers stop, ao will I. But I am very confident they never will. Have you noticed who's running for the GOP ticket? This country is founded on separation of church and state as well a freedom of religion. I'm not stopping you from pursuing your religious beliefs.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Don Camp

      @Jeffery How are Christians pushing their beliefs on you? Do we demand that you believe as we do? I don't see it. Do we apply our worldview to our concerns for society and politics? Yes. But everyone else does as well. That is the way it works in a democracy; we argue our case, and we argue our case because we believe it is vital for society. But who but the totally apathetic do otherwise?

      What you are asking is for a large segment of America to shut up when it comes to their serious concerns about American society and for our future as a nation. What you are asking is that no Christian run for office, that no Christian vote, that no Christian speak. What you are trying to do is disfranchise a large part of the American public so that you can have the only voice. Is that even American?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • Zeb

      @doncamp: I don't care if a Christian or a Druid runs for political office. What I do care about is that there is a very clear push that is doctrine-driven about things like abortion. So when the "Christian" politicians stop pushing those clearly religion-based agendas, then we can allow everyone to have their beliefs.

      The question is, from a political point of view, what does the country need? I submit to you that the religious right is very good at asking government to enforce what they believe in, and railing against government about everything else. If you believe that your government should interfere with a woman's right to have an abortion, then I can certainly insist that my government "interfere" and ensure that (a) the less fortunate are taken care of (b) the rich pay more in taxes (c) we build roads, bridges, etc., and so on and so on.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Dan

      My perception is you're an ass which becomes my belief thus my reality – pretty much means you really are an ass!

      August 22, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • Adrian GMV

      So what is murder, what is a lie, what is slander, what is cheating? You many not believe in God but I think you are playing semantics with the word sin.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Say What?

      That statement is foolishness. If there was no sin then there is no crime and if there is no crime then why have a police or a army? If sin is not an issue why marry? What good is marriage if there is no commitment that would keep you from going from spouse to spouse? If you are a woman this is a raw deal because the man can then say you chose me so I have no responsibility to help you or support you and your children. If I kill should I be punished animals do it all of the time? Why punish Wall Street bankers for making millions by raising their taxes it is neither a sin nor a crime to make money if it is legal? This sounds foolish doesn't it? My point is what is sin? Sin is anything that affects our relationship with our beliefs or other people. Sin is something you do not have to do but you chose to do it anyway! If there is no sin who determines what is wrong?

      August 22, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Frogist

      @montyhall: The idea of sin is a dangerous one the way these pseudo-therapists are using it in the article. By classing every act of mast-ur-bation or pr0n use as a "sin" and therefore an addiction, we ignore not only the millions upon millions of people who function within healthy boundaries with those activities or because of them. And we also ignore the very few who really need someone to realistically tackle an addiction to something that is harmless or even beneficial. You've classed something harmless or even beneficial as dangerous. That does not serve anyone well. Not you, because it forces you to repress healthy urges and create anxieties, fears and dysfunction where there are none. Not me, because I have the additional social pressure against pr0n and se-x that make others view me as a degenerate. And not society as a whole who has to tolerate this madness because it is your religion while still having no honest discussions about se-xuality which is keeping our children in the dark, our laws and policies about women's health draconian, and making men seem like criminals for simply being themselves.
      It is not a matter of Christians think it's a sin so it's your business alone, because you do not keep that opinion to yourselves. Your "opinion" is not in a vacuum.

      @DonCamp: Please take your victim speech someplace else. No one is disenfranchising you! LOL! What all the sensible Christians, who btw ARE those secular people evangelicals seem to be so worried about, and all the rest of the religious and non-religious ask is that you and your kind uphold the separation of church and state. That means your paid politicians need to keep their religion out of their law-making and political decisions. If they cannot manage that, then they need to find another job. And we also ask that you refrain from putting the const!tutional rights of your fellow citizens up for a vote like with gay marriage. Or trying to chip away at them because you can't understand that it's legal like with women's health care. You're trying to cheat the system, and you can. But now you tell me, is that Christian?

      August 22, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Melissa

      @ Clint: Check out the sci-fi movie Sphere with Dusting Hoffman and Sharon Stone. It explores the topic of what would happen if all the sudden we were given the ability to manifest everything we imagined and it became real. Very good, very sciency movie. One of my favorites by the late Michael Crichton.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Familliarwuf

      @montyhall I believe the biggist sin here is the outfit the pope wears, that thing is just plain ...Gaudy!

      September 14, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • munchma cuchi

      @Say What?: You're confusing sin with morality.

      September 25, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • munchma cuchi

      @Familliarwuf: ...with 20 pounds of headlights stapled to his chest...

      September 25, 2011 at 5:11 am |
  2. Walter

    It really seems this is less about religion and more about repressed desires.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • mocha moore

      everyone has repressed desires

      August 21, 2011 at 4:14 am |
    • mocha moore

      i wish my partner was back from kuwait, i miss him having a beer and smoking his cigar on the deck with me. I miss him getting mad at me...repressed yes

      August 21, 2011 at 4:16 am |
    • What?

      @mocha – wish it for you too. No repressed desire is wrong unless it is forced on others. If all others are willing it is fine.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • David

      Mine is a bit about mutually willing bondage... Lawrence v. Texas makes it legal in all states

      August 21, 2011 at 4:33 am |
  3. Brian

    In this case, "sin" and "addiction" are the same thing.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:07 am |
  4. mocha moore

    brooke, it's not so much hatred as it is christian overload.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:06 am |
    • brooke

      that does make sense. can you imagine living in predominately muslim countries? talk about overload....

      August 21, 2011 at 4:11 am |
    • mocha moore

      I would not want to live or even visit a muslim country. that would be overload what they pray like 5 times a day, the women have to have escorts a male in the family, the women can't drive. I guess the only thing left well..is to pray.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  5. montyhall

    As a Christian man recovering from the effects of lust addiction – I can attest to and agree with what much of this article says. I'm no different than a alcoholic – they can't stop at one drink and I can't stop at one "look".

    August 21, 2011 at 4:05 am |
    • Frogist

      @montyhall: Please define "lust addiction". I am truly curious.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Aleta413

      Then stay away from parks and schools

      September 28, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  6. mocha moore

    montyhall, congratulations on your sobriety.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • montyhall

      Thank you Mocha. I'm sorry that someplace at sometime a church, a religion mislead or hurt you.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  7. mocha moore

    Anybody for Breaking Bad? I have it recorded. How bout Sons of Anarchy? Hey why isn't there a religion of Food? If you don't eat..you will die?

    August 21, 2011 at 4:00 am |
    • montyhall

      Religion of food is called: Gluttony ; – ) I've had that – sat at a table – kept eating even after my body told me it was "full". My mind said – c'mon you paid for this meal you deserve it! Or I'll eat just because I'm sad or depressed – that's gluttonus behavior.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  8. SeekTheTruth

    I find the photo offensive, could you imagine if they did the same with a Quran?! First, CNN wouldn't think of insulting Islam's Holy book, and Second, if they did post such a picture they would have jihad declared against them and some photo journalist would be beheaded walking out of their Atlanta studios.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:00 am |
    • mocha moore

      the picture is to get the point across. it got you riled didn't it? that is just a way to get controversy. it get's people talking about the subject.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:10 am |
    • Clint

      I agree, I am offended that they would tarnish a playboy mag with that other crap........

      August 21, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • SeekTheTruth

      I'll pray for both of you. I hope that both of your hearts are softened and you seek The Truth. I do not agree with others coming in Christ's name that want to kill (as history notes), but I follow the true teaching of Christ, 'love and serve'. I also think you both missed my point, I only said that I was offended by the photo and it would not have happened to any other faith except the one that will not rise up and murder in return. I spent many years in your same shoes. I urge you to watch The Daniel Project – and then research the facts on your own. You think we hate and antagonise others, but is that not how you have worded your own posts to my question? Salvation is free! Seek and you will find.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Roland

      Seekthetruth,

      And I'll pray that you stop worshipping you. Salvation may be free, but it comes at the cost of blind acceptance. And the faith that will not rise up and murder in return? Pretty sure there have been plenty of Christian terrorists throughout history. The Crusades ring a bell...

      August 22, 2011 at 2:23 am |
    • Say What?

      Men have done some destructive things in the name of Jesus but there is one huge difference they are not Jesus nor or they God. Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost not to condem the world but that all might be saved from eternal damnation. I pray you soften your heart and hear His call and do His work. I hear a fighter in your writings that God can use.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  9. mocha moore

    the only thing christians fight for is their right to fight....hahahahh, no wait christians are predetors. They wait to pounce at the right moment. expect it when you least expect it..the spanish inquisition...nooooo christian trolls are everywhere repeating the same crap over and over

    August 21, 2011 at 3:51 am |
    • mocha moore

      the bible is: have you 'ever noticed that what jesus said is in red lettering? the last time I looked there were'nt much of what he actually said in the bible. it was written by a bunch of guys from the hood, who had nuthin better to do over 40 years. Hey lets write a book and see how many suckers will believe it.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:55 am |
    • montyhall

      As a Christain man recovering from the effects of lust addiction, I'll agree with what much of this artical states. Celebrating 2+ years of "sobriety".

      August 21, 2011 at 3:57 am |
    • Larry

      You suck.HA HA HA. YOU WAIT, IN PERGATORY. HA HA AH DIPSHP!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:19 am |
    • montyhall

      LARRY – who's your comment to? If me – I'm sorry you feel the need to be mean – if to Mocha – I'm sorry you feel the need to be mean to her. Best!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:23 am |
    • Adrian GMV

      seems you are the one who's ready to pounce and fight.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  10. Michael B

    I went to the Garden of Love,
    And saw what I never had seen;
    A Chapel was built in the midst,
    Where I used to play on the green.

    And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
    And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
    So I turned to the Garden of Love
    That so many sweet flowers bore.

    And I saw it was filled with graves,
    And tombstones where flowers should be;
    And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
    And binding with briars my joys & desires.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:50 am |
    • Tiffinie

      Wow. I am impressed with your poem. Thank you for sharing.

      I am spiritual and a follower if God, if not Christianity. I think that the Bible sets forth many good examples on how to be a "good person", but it also sets forth many on how to be a "bad person". It all depends on which passages you choose to follow and please dont say you follow all of them...it would make you a walking contradiction. What I am saying, is I dont strictly agree with the poem but can agree that if you are not willing to think for yourself and determine from your own reading and experiences what makes a good person, you are bound to be unhappy. You dont have to be a sheep to follow The Sheppard. Sheep are lead to the slaughter. Think for yourself and use the free will God gave you. Take in all the Bible tells you and use it to GUIDE your actions, not rule them.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  11. mocha moore

    religion is just an addiction just like alcohol or drugs. thats why it is endlessly shoved down our throats because people have nothing better to talk about.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:42 am |
    • brooke

      why can't people choose to have faith or believe in what they want to? if you feel it's being shoved down your throat, close your mouth. no one can MAKE you believe in God. why so much hatred?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:59 am |
    • Clint

      It's funny you would say that, considering many parents teach there children that "god" is real from the minute their children are born. If that isn't "making you believe in god", I don't know what is.

      Luckily, in this day and age, many kids are figuring out that what their parents are pushing isn't true, and they are making up their own minds.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:59 am |
    • Frogist

      @brooke: Well if you can't make someone believe then why do Christians keep trying?

      August 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  12. Gar573

    Religion was developed thousands of years ago as a form of human mind control by the upper class. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do.

    And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever until the end of time!

    Like I said, mind control. Convincing people that they need to conform or else they will burn in hell. Sounds like a rich guy trying to control the non-rich guys so they don't get in the way of him making money.

    I think Christians are arrogant and selfish to think that they know a God exists. There is no way of knowing. You trust all these words to a book that was originally written thousands of years ago? And you think that book hasn't changed since then?

    It's mind control people. It's genius though. Someone sat down and thought that there were enough idiots in the population to believe this crap, so they put the card into play. And it worked. It still works.

    So you "Christians" can go ahead and be mindless drones to a non-existent concept. I'll continue to "sin" every day. Because life's more fun that way.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:41 am |
    • mocha moore

      I agree Gar..or it was aliens that brought us here as an experiment and they are laughing their buttocks off. religion is kind of like brainwashing..you are under my control oh wait you are under some control freaks control. somone who knows just a bit more than you and give you tons of unwanted ADVICE

      August 21, 2011 at 3:46 am |
    • fady Lebanese

      take it easy man. u dont have to be that offended by the christian. no body is telling u dont go and sin. keep sining as much as u want. enjoy life to the fullest. on the other hand, respect other people choice.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:24 am |
    • jdan7

      Dude, I'm not sure if you've read the Bible...but the story of the Gospel isn't just a list of rules to follow like those of man-made religions. That list is only to point out the fact that we have a human condition that separates us from living in right relationship with God. The reason we have hardship and brokenness in this world isn't because two people sinned thousands of years ago...it's because every single one of us lives out of a sinful nature that seeks to please self..pretty much every day. Seriously...that's the state of our condition...even people who claim to know God sin. The Gospel wasn't written to control a sect of society (though many people throughout history have used the Bible and God's name to errantly justify horrible things)...the Bible was written to show us that even though we are completely depraved as human beings, God loves us so much that He would send His own son to die a sinner's death...and pay a price of sacrifice that no amount of work on our behalf could every pay. Dude, that's the Gospel...it's powerful stuff. Really softens my heart to know that there is a God who created, and cares about me...even though I've chosen so many times to turn my back on Him. I don't know any other love like that...and that is enough to make me take a deeper look at the Bible.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:51 am |
    • Clint

      "Dude, I'm not sure if you've read the Bible"

      Dude, you've been brainwashed, and your post only further proves what he said.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:03 am |
    • Gar573

      JDan7 – Hate to break it to, but you just proved my point. Thanks.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • OneFaithoneGodonebaptism

      I only have a few things to share. And its funny how its actually happening again. The Devil(Lucifer) has a strong hold on the ones that only believe in themselves and only believe what they see/believe. For to believe in the all Mighty Creator, is to have faith of that of a mustard seed. We are indeed living in the last days, and to tell you the truth it might be already too late to sway some people to believe in Christ's Life, Death, and Resurrection.
      I can only keep my family and myself's, personal walk with God strong and intact. God says those that turn away for the Holy Spirit and the Word, let them be, they have already decided. There is never a need to force God onto someone, for the Holy Spirit will do that if that person opens their heart.

      So whomever was given you Bible studies was doing it wrong.

      Mock and jeer all you like, people. You who think the Bible, The God Head and the plan for Salvation is not real, it does not affect the ones who DO believe It. For, Christ said it Himself, there will be two sides, "Those for the Lord and those for Satan, there is no middle ground for He spits out those who are luke warm(undecided, knowingly given in our sinful natures .

      From God's lips, before he ascended to Heaven
      "Verily I say unto thee, for such as the day of Noah were, so will the Last Days be, before the Son of man commeth."

      August 21, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Roland

      Jdan7,

      I think it's a very simplistic view to believe that people are suffering in the world because they have sinned and are not right before God, and as such are being punished. A lot of people believe this but I just don't think there's any truth to it. Someone who gets cancer, probably does not do so because they are being punished by God or because they live in a world of sin that they can't escape unless they accept 'Grace." It's this type of view that leads people to be resentful and angry at God in the first place. Why does God give them cancer, and someone else makes billions from inside information on the stock market?

      Isn't it arrogant to presume that your words have enough meaning to make you fitting for a relationship with God?

      August 22, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • Roland

      It's funny that someone who thinks we are living in the last days, obviously hasn't read the Bible.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • munchma cuchi

      @fady Lebanese: Why do you assume that someone who does not subscribe to your skydaddy does not have the ability or desire to adhere to a moral code? We're all on the way out, act accordingly.

      September 25, 2011 at 5:18 am |
  13. Stan

    Once again, CNN fulfills its committment to posting another Christianity-related article in the hopes the religion is bashed to bits. The articles are simply one of two things. They're either simply outroght negative towards the religion, or they appear to be "neutral" but the focus of the article is on some sensationalistic (that a word?) aspect of the religion that makes it so easy a target by "witty" comments from aethesit haters. Today's big article features a not-so-subtle image of someone with a bible in their hand and a Playboy right behind it. then you have the unusual (albeait interesting) article, and the aethesists jump out of their holes to attack. Nobody actually asks them directly to spend their valueble time and read the religious-based article, and yet they come out in droves to spread hate. I actually don't blame them, but i put more blame on CNN. This is CNN's hidden agenda. Creat useless, sensasionalist (there's that word again) articles highliting Christianity IN THE HOPES OF triggerring reactions from aetheists who are unwittingly baited. Anyone else agree?

    August 21, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • colonblow

      did you say something....i kinda...uhh....fell asleep

      August 21, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • FriendlyAtheist

      You're partially correct Stan. CNN is well aware of the popularity of the subject, and the inevitable gathering of believers and non-believers. But their agenda is purely an economic one. The more visitors, the more advertising dollars. You're incorrect however that every atheist is a hater. Personally, I'm quite fond of all my christian friends.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:48 am |
    • justme

      no

      August 21, 2011 at 4:00 am |
    • CSX

      Yes, they are of their father the Devil.

      They would not do this with the Koran.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:02 am |
    • munchma cuchi

      No hate here, just wonderment at the contortions y'all go through to weave the magikal web you weave based on blind faith in something that has been used since it was invented to control the masses and repress the acquisition of knowledge.

      September 25, 2011 at 5:28 am |
  14. Super Patriotic Vetern who died for your rights

    Why does an all powerful super being that doesn't exist in this known universe give a crap what you do with your genitalia?

    Man, christians are as retarded as a Palin baby.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:36 am |
    • colonblow

      i believe the term is 'physically or emotionally challenged....you retard

      August 21, 2011 at 3:38 am |
    • colonblow

      het VETRN....aren't you dead?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • mocha moore

      OMG now that is Funny!

      August 21, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • big Spender

      You my friend are a very ignorant person.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:17 am |
    • C. Smith

      'Known' is an awfully relative word. From a baby's perspective, neither their mother nor the store owner are beings that exist within their 'known existence' at the moment they grab for that pack of gum. So, why should either care what the baby does with it? Maybe because one owns the gum and the other is interested in the well-being of her child? Just because you don't know about something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and the atheist idea that a God so detailed-oriented as to plan out every individual hair on your head wouldn't care what you do with your life isn't very sensible or logical. Stick with just claiming it doesn't exist. At least that doesn't blatantly contradict common reason anywhere.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  15. i

    no one read that long asz article

    August 21, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • colonblow

      your ass is long

      August 21, 2011 at 3:36 am |
    • munchma cuchi

      @blahblah: Pompous much?

      September 25, 2011 at 5:32 am |
  16. mocha moore

    CRC like I said more holy than thou! yes hypocrites are everywhere. I don't go out and spew religion to other people. call people out and tell them they are walking down the wrong path. try to turn politics into religious matters. how many religions have started wars over beliefs. I want no part of that. I don't care where I go after I am dead. most people use religion as a crutch. go out and kill someone and ask for forgiveness. talk about two face. I don't need some lounge chair christian to tell me how to live my life and lay some huge guilt trip on me. If I want a huge guilt trip i'll go visit my parents!

    August 21, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • colonblow

      are you still talking?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • meirdagen

      mocha moore, if you were to look at history from a more objective standpoint, you would notice that many more wars have been fought, and many more people have been killed over non-religious conflicts than all religions conflicts combined. Wars fought over communism alone (an atheist ideology) have killed more people than all religious wars combined. So atheism/ agnostic is just as violent as religion. So your argument is rather fallacious. http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/atrocities.html

      August 21, 2011 at 4:30 am |
    • montyhall

      If I were to commit a crime I could and should ask for forgiveness – I know that God will grant me that – the victim to whom I commited the crime on though has a choice to forgive me or not – that I can not control. And just because I committed a crime e.g. murder – doesn't mean I shouldn't be responsible for my actions. If I committed said crime I would expect and deserve to face whatever the concequences are of my actions – jail and/or death. That's just living responsibly.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:49 am |
    • Dan

      meirdagen – don't know where you got your information but it's pretty much a load of crap. All wars are religious based including communism which still exists today. You can believe in a supreme being if you like but why does it take a "religion" to make you keep the faith. People are killed daily in the name of religion, even people who profess the same beliefs kill each other because their religious is better then someone elses. The most hateful people I know are religious people; they kill for a god that is supposed to be kind and giving. If I believe in god I don't need some religious fanatic telling how I should or should not do it. RELIGIOUS PEOPLE SUCK

      August 22, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • blahblah

      Mocha, your incoherent ramblings clearly indicate you have low level of intelligence. You keep preaching a lack of intolerance. That's the funny thing about liberals, they expect everyone to be tolerant of their agenda, yet they exhibit zero tolerance of their own. You are a sad person.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • munchma cuchi

      blahblahblahblah

      September 25, 2011 at 5:34 am |
  17. Ziggy

    Keep...keep going CNN...I'm....I'm almost...al...most...there.....UNNNNNNGH!

    August 21, 2011 at 3:34 am |
    • colonblow

      this is really difficult to maaaaasturbate to.....uhh....nevermind

      August 21, 2011 at 3:36 am |
  18. colonblow

    colonblow

    August 21, 2011 at 3:34 am |
  19. Scott

    Life is the only teacher.......Just say'in.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  20. coder

    christian crusaders – why is it that christians always have to be killing something?

    August 21, 2011 at 3:32 am |
    • Naomi

      They don't. They always make things alive and better and right. Christians never give up in doing what is right because Christians know the things that are far better.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • Scott

      ?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:36 am |
    • mocha moore

      why is it christians always have to be right? why is it christians know the true path? Geez, where we end up nobody knows. as far as christians knowing things that are far better? yea they sneak around and do the same stuff everyone else does and then point fingers

      August 21, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Naomi

      Knowing true love liberates one from po-rn or any addiction.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • Naomi

      Mocha, not true. Christians always fight for purity, never giving up. There are different worlds that are unknown to non-christians. Trust Jesus first.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:43 am |
    • Andrew

      I trust logic, evidence, facts, and substantiated arguments first. I don't see why I should trust jesus first just because some book tells me to. Should I take up arms against the white whale?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:44 am |
    • Pope Jon

      Naomi, are you a Christin troll?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:46 am |
    • Naomi

      Andrew, Jesus is real. He helps in our needs, wants and lonliness, and takes us to some other dimentions. Your name is from one of His disciples.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • Gar573

      I'd like someone to prove that god exists. Seriously. 100% undeniable proof. Proof that will make any athiest go "wow, he really must exist then."

      August 21, 2011 at 3:56 am |
    • Christopher

      Naomi, these people are NOT fighting for 'purity'. They are fighting for forcing their own personal likes and dislikes on other people, harassing other people when they won't kowtow to their beliefs, etc.

      To be blunt: Since we are BORN with g enitals, we are supposed to be s exually active from birth or soon afterwards. Since 'only one' doesn't fit in a woman, we are supposed to have s ex with more than one person our entire life.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:58 am |
    • Naomi

      @Gar, for deniers, nothing can come evidence. You already have made up your mind. @Christopher, you are wrong. You must live for one woman and for the relation with her only for your entire life. Man is designed that way.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:04 am |
    • Tom

      Yeah Naomi, the sky is red, the world is flat cause I said so, want to try again?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:13 am |
    • Naomi

      Tom, don't be stupid. We live in a structured world. You men are just too selfish to live for one woman and keep your honor, that's all. You boys didn't have to live this way. The evil culture and your own evil notion have destroyed you, but anyone can have a hope in Christ. BTW, remember po-rn always creates new victims. God will judge this world. Live like a man. Don't be the villain.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Clint

      "christian crusaders – why is it that christians always have to be killing something?"

      Or someone.......

      August 21, 2011 at 5:06 am |
    • Gar573

      Religion is the only thing holding us back as a species. Seriously.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • Dan

      Naomi, don't want to bust your bubble but Jesus is dead, remember they nailed him on the cross and he went to heaven, ring a bell. You got this whole trinity thing confused, might be a bad matrix or something. Not everyone in "heaven" is a christian, I hear the streets of hell are paved with them.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:23 am |
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About this blog

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