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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. Ben Alcobra

    So the "Small Government", "Liberalism is Socialism, conservative Christians want to control everyone's lives and behavior. This is news? This is the transparent hypocrisy of neo-conservatism. For all their bellowing about how evil "Big Government" is and how it wants to tyrannize us, the conservatives are always at the forefront of telling everyone how they must behave.

    It's phony, all of it.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"For all their bellowing about how evil "Big Government" is and how it wants to tyrannize us, the conservatives are always at the forefront of telling everyone how they must behave. "

      Yeah, its not like the Democrats ever had a once first lady, now Secretary of State ever write a book called "It takes a Village". You know, basically saying that outside enti'ties should have more free reign to instruct your child how to think.

      Come on Ben, the telling other folks how to behave is the corner stone of every political or social movement. Seatbelts, helmets, cigarettes, .... trans-fats.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Paul

      I believe God tells the Christian how to behave in His Word. I would hope that for a lost and dying generation, but I would never impose it on you...

      August 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • JEM

      Vote LIBERTARIAN.
      Lets keep the government out of our bedrooms AND our wallets.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      Paul, get off CNN. Fox, the other 700 Club network, is looking for you

      August 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      They want to replace big Government with big Church. No socialism unless it's Christian Church socialism. These pukes make me vomit. Save America! Frustrate their every move everywhere you can.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  2. Paul

    Many lustful sins take place in the dark, in secret, but nothing is hid from God:

    Hebrews 4:13 "All things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."

    Numbers 32:23 "Be sure your sin will find you out."

    Is it more serious than other sins? Po rnog raphy seems more disgusting than other evils.

    1 Corinthians 6:18 "Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. "

    1 Corinthians 6:18-20 "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you? Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

    August 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Colin

      Paul, it must suck going through life thinking some cosmic voye.uristic stalker is watching you every time you beat off, and adding it up to see it he will burn you forever.

      I suggest psychiatric help – and get a girlfriend, or boyfriend if you prefer.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Atheist

      Paul suffers from divine paranoia.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Paul

      Sorry Colin, I hit the wrong button and reported abuse..... I am happily married with a wonderful loving wife. Our s ex life is wonderful and fulfilling and feel sorry for those who have to use s ex to "feel good", get off, enjoy life. After the act of fornica tion there is emptiness and despair because you can only think, Is this all there is?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Colin

      Paul, in that case, a monogomous, hetero$exual relationship is right for you. But there are many, many men and women who don't feel that way and would prefer the excitement of variety. There is no cosmic dimension to this, it is simply what makes one happy.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      After the act of fornication, there is only despair? No sh&t? After I do the loveless nasty, I feel pretty damn good. Stick that in your God and smoke it dude.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • SWF

      @Paul: I have to confess~~saying things like, "Many lustful sins take place in the dark, in secret," is kind of a turn off for me. My preference, truth be told, is lights on...ok, maybe some candles, subtle warm light, but not in the dark. As far as hiding from God, I call out His name (as many other women do when enjoying the "deed") all the time....."Oh, God....Oh, God,....etc.", so I'm not hiding anything from God (and sometimes the neighbors, LOL)

      August 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • jimbo junior

      @SWF: Good one!

      August 22, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  3. J.W

    What if there is a married couple who has a bad se.x life and the p.orn helps them get stimulated again? P.orn may actually save some marriages.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Very good point. Are you sure you're a christian? (:

      August 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • satan

      smart child of mine, you got it, that is how I lured your grand mommy Eve to fall into temptation!!!!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • J.W

      I am among the world's most brilliant Christians.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Satan? Did you ever watch Kids in the Hall? You kind of remind me of Simon.

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

      August 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • i wonder

      It would be pretty danged weird asking their 'Holy Spirit' for some erotic inspiration!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I agree J.W. In many ways I think that Por'n is, like mentioned before, something that can become an addiction.

      Tallulah, ... Good grief, I forgot all about the Kids in the Hall. There are few segments I gotta find on Youtube. The one with the guy fighting the bigger guy and gets thrown over the building. ROFL.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      Paul is a sad little man who has emotional problems that he can't deal with on his own. He's the perfect Christian.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • J.W

      omg it is so stupid that i cant use the word p.orn. But yeah por.n can be addictive, but lots of things are. Even volunteering can be bad if you do it so much you neglect your family.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  4. Paul

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • CheeseSteak

      Go F yourself

      August 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Atheist

      Paul, do you converse with such silly language when in bed with your faithful wife?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  5. Jethro

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYNg28BAxro&w=640&h=390]

    August 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  6. Bo

    ===========STRANGE=================== Most scienctists pre 1900 were belivers in God and sicence today accept their finding! Wonder what athiests think about that? =======================-========= ======================================

    August 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • 21k

      we know you make no sense. what in hell do the religious opinions of pre-1900 scientists have to do with the truth, especially in 2011?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      As long as the science holds up, who cares what the scientist believed?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Colin

      But their religious beliefs did not contribute to their breakthroughs. They also all had star signs, but astrology did not help them either.

      For example, Gregor Mendel (of genetics fame) was a monk, and that allowed him the time to experiment. But he did not come up with the laws of hereditary through kneeling down to some sky-god. He did it by employing the scientific method of controlled experimentation, recording of results and transparency of results for others to repeat.

      I will consider a person's religious beliefs relevant to their scientific contribution the day I hear a scientist claim that a god told them the answer to the problem they were researching.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      And the early atheists came from those scientists – they tried to avoid getting their heads cut off.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • S101

      If the biblical predictions and prescriptions in THIS life weren't all that good, what are the chances that the predictions for the next life (if there is any at all) will be any good?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  7. What??

    Why does CNN first of all show such a DISTURBING picture of a disgusting magazine on the most sacred of all Books...THE Bible and the word of God. That shows a real lack of respect and shows you exactly where they're going to take this article. So disturbed how liberal all of the media is these days. Is anything sacred anymore? Do you not show reverence for anything anymore?? Why are there so many people who refuse to see all the things that God has provided and created for us...It brings me to tears how sacrilegious the world has become....

    August 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Should have been layered with a Hustler and a koran

      August 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • 21k

      but it would probably be ok to do the same thing with a quran, right?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Qur'an, Koran, Qur'ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur'ān

      August 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      did you get that 21k?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Oh such outrage! The bible is getting p0rn cooties!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • J.W

      Tallulah Playboy doesnt have cooties. As women get older cooties grow into various stds. Unless playboy has underage women in it.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • tallulah13

      JW, I think that even atheists agree that the exploitation of children is wrong.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • JEM

      It was your "Christian Values" which brought about the "War on Drugs" and turned what was once the freest,
      richest and most promising country the world had ever seen and turned it into the worlds "Prison Nation".
      The Drug War started in the Chapels just as the war on alcohol.

      Laws and socialist policies passed in the interests of the Christian Faith have largely ruined this country.

      This nation did not start as a Christian Nation (Google it) but it will die as one.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Grammar and Spelling Cop

      When did it get to be "sacred' ? They VOTED on the texts that were in/out of the canon back in the day. The VOTES were NOT unanimous. Why ? Can't be all that "sacred" if they could make up their minds.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  8. Tom

    Addiction is sin. If you are married and lust for another women that is sin (Thou shalt not commit adultery). If you say you can't stop yourself, you show a lack of discipline and are still sinning. Jesus came into this world to set the captive free and heal the broken hearted. Labels given by science only justify poor adult behavior without Jesus rather than the adult taking responsibility of their own behavior. We are a weak generation of people who need to be healed, positioned in Jesus. Without that, we are hopelessly bound in this life and the next. On a side note: Crusaders were Catholics and not Christians. Peace

    August 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • 21k

      all these rules were laid down by tribal leaders, to keep order in their clans. no different than today, if you try to bang your neigbor's wife, there will be blood. nothing to do with celestial beings.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • SWF

      @Tom: Hun you got it backwards. All Catholics are Christians. But all Christians are NOT Catholics; they're Protestants.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  9. jennamoreland

    When are people going to realize that being moral is a lot simpler than obeying every little rule spelled out extensively in any religion. Be good and do good. There's no need to complicate is any more than that. Lust is natural, not a sin...

    August 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      That's why there are 7 billion of us.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  10. Leroy Watkins

    Think Jesus wacked his winkie? I often wonder about that.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      I would say chances are yes. Mary Magdaline prolly showed him how.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Leroy Watkins

      You said "Think Jesus wacked his winkie? I often wonder about that."
      Of course he did. Show me a guy who says he never did, and I'll show you a liar.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Linca, you mistakenly assume that the sin that corrupts your heart also corrupted the spotless Lamb of God. It didn't, and that's why he is the *only* savior for the world.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @SciGuy
      What are you folks gonna do when they find all the other civilizations out there ? Did it have more children to send to redeem them ? Are they ALL perfect ? Did it have to do it over, planet by planet, galaxy by galaxy ? Come on. You cannot be serious. 😈

      August 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Bucky, the only other life that is out there will be life that God created. I am sure he has it all under control.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • LinCA

      @SciGuy

      You said "Linca, you mistakenly assume that the sin that corrupts your heart also corrupted the spotless Lamb of God. It didn't, and that's why he is the *only* savior for the world."

      I realize that some people consider the dude special. But just because his mother refused to admit she had an affair, doesn't make him any different than the rest of us.

      And by the way, I don't sin. I'm incapable of sin and it therefor can't corrupt my heart.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  11. JustAguy

    So I consider Jesus time over. Going to church now means nothing. I don't approve of it. I know better. Being that His times are over it's time to move on to the new thing the one Who Is creator has blessed. Jesus was nothing more than someone with Abrahams blessing. Blessings are flowers of course. More like who The Great I am gave the things of the oldest hills to. Thats a lot of stuff to. If that was avalible to you in your time. Your lifetime, you would consider yourself a very lucky individual to be able have such a thing. It makes you wonder why the earth would try to hide such a thing.

    If you were in the know like a lot of well inquisitive people are you would understand what is taking place in your lifetime. Take advantage of what has not happened to the earth in centurys. Or you could walk away chase after the norm as other people do and cheat yourself out of a very happy, nice and well vested life on the earth not to mention beyond. It's nothing more than looking around and asking and noticing.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  12. NixManes

    All of this is moot–from a Christian perspective, that is. The clock on this religion ran out a long time ago...

    Revelation 1:1-3
    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

    Unless "shortly" and "near" includes 2,000-year time frames, this religion's predictions never happened. To continue to believe it is relevant is the problem.

    People who lived this long ago and thought they were talking to magical invisible creatures to not give us anything of value today.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • mu_tiger

      The Book of Revelations is recognized by many Biblical scholars a letter to Christians that predicted the fall of Jerusalem and fall of Rome (in figurative language so the Roman authorities would have not understood it and censored it). Very little of it has anything to do with the end of time.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  13. SciGuy

    The word of God tells us that in the last days men will be lovers of themselves more than lovers of God. The CNN blog on anything religious is strong evidence that we live in the last days.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Apocatequil

      I will have to admit that I love myself 2x a day, but haven't been to church in 2 years....it is about setting priorities.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Andrew

      I'm pretty sure people have been saying that for the past 2000 years. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but this doomsday bit has been consistently wrong. Which is strange too because it's easy to make a self-fulfilling prophecy no less, at least, with the nuclear missile capability we have.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Colin

      We've been living in the end times for 2,00 years, Mr Camping.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • 21k

      you can say the same thing about any point in history. the world will end in a few billion years when the sun explodes. mankind will wipe themselves out in a few thousand years.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • jeebus

      yeah, i heard that kind of talk 40 years ago. still waiting....
      come back in another 40 years and see if you can reprise your 'opinion'!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      I guess 'Sci' is for 'Scifi' not 'Science'

      August 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • asrael

      SciGuy: so you're going to spend your "last days" complaining about CNN? Priorities, man, priorities...

      August 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • SciGuy

      The "last days" began with the crucifixion of Jesus. We've been in the last days for 2000 years. We all are deserving of God's wrath, for there is none righteous, no not one says the word of God. If God has mercy on any (and he will, on all those who believe in His Son), then that shows his mercy. Anyone who does not receive that mercy will be getting precisely what they have earned and deserve. The God of all the earth will do right, you can bank on that.

      No, SCA, the Sci is for Science. I am a scientist.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Andrew

      SciGuy, technically Francis Collins is a scientist, but that doesn't make his religious views any less pseudo-scientific B S, nor his religious claims any more substantiated. As a 'scientist' (as you claim) you should be well aware you need more than claims in some old book to substantiate the arguments you are currently making. And yes, even Francis Collins has admitted that, he wouldn't be so quick to say "my beliefs are true", just "I believe my beliefs are true".

      Plus, aside from me being able to bank on the 'god on earth' never actually confirming its existence in any way, if it's the god of the bible, I can bank on god doing quite a lot of wrong. How many women and newborn children were killed in the great flood? In the destruction of Sodom? To reward someone for offering their daughters to be r -ped rather than let angels be touched? What kind of just or loving god requires his son to be killed a horrible bloody brutal death, why couldn't he just snap his fingers and everything is fixed? The god of the bible always to me struck me as a tyrant requiring sycophantic praise to fill his egomania lest he kill the 'sinners'. I could not preform the mental gymnastics you seem capable of to portray that 'god' as anything short of a monster.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  14. Grey Witch

    Hey I recognize that magazine. Thats the 2011 September edition I'm reading that right now. lol.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • asrael

      And I'll bet you read it just for the religious articles, right...?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Grey Witch

      Thats right. Why would I want to look at Naked women when I can read the religious articles. lol

      August 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  15. Gene

    And as we look through this endless list of post we as christian are labeled as dimwitted, uneducated and shoving our beliefs down your throats, but yet I read from most of you speak more hate then any christian I have seen post on here. Seem to forget we have a voice to share our opinion about things as much as you but in your eyes your opinions are always more welcomed then others.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • jeebus

      same old self-righteous garbage. not worthy of a three sentence reply.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Gene, you may not realize this, but christians call atheists names, too. You could fill a book with Adelina/Faith/Naomi/et al's angry rants. Also, christians happily condemn us to eternal torture. Perhaps you should consider your fellow believers before you throw stones.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • asrael

      Gene: you left out "smug"...

      August 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Andrew

      Really? Then you must not be reading very many of your fellow christian's posts.

      "Mocha, live how you want to. I really don't care. You will answer to God one day for all you have done and you will bow your knees before him recognizing Him as God. BTW the Bible has not been rewritten at all. You have some serious problems. You want to ignore God, go ahead. God gives us opportunities everyday and he will judge us for the decisions we make. Good luck on your miserable life." (Pg 1)

      "Repent or die." (Pg 1)

      "You suck.HA HA HA. YOU WAIT, IN PERGATORY. HA HA AH DIPSHP!" (Pg 2)

      "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.""

      (Pg 2, I really find doomsday prophecies mixed with little passive aggressive 'you're satan's pawn' mumbo jumbo to be particularly funny)

      "CSX
      Yes, they are of their father the Devil.
      They would not do this with the Koran." (Pg 2)

      "Fools say in there heart ..there is no God....This an awesome post very enlightening of the struggles that many go thru. May Jesus open your eyes to see the light.He's the way the truth and Life.May many pastors thru Gods help liberate many people who have various strong hold of addictions to be set free" (Pg 3, Christians really seem to like that 'fool' quote)

      Starting to get the point? You can play the victim all you like, but it betrays your confirmation bias. I'm not saying us atheists don't insult Christians, we certainly do, but at the very least, we don't tell people they're going to suffer for all eternity based on what some old book says with no real evidence offered. You will find an atheist call a christian an idiot, but you won't see an atheist threaten a christian with an eternity of torture.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Grey Witch

      I understand what your saying. There is a lot of hate in the world but you make it sound like Christians don"t hate. I used to be a Christian but renounced that the day I realized that God is a Hater and people told me I was Damned to hell. I get preached to all the time because I'm a witch. They tell me That God hates me and I'm going to hell. I say that I believe in God too but I don't think God hates anyone and there is No Hell. I believe in reincarnation and the fact we choose our life. And we don't get to reincarnate if we murder or commit suicide until the pain from family is forgiven or forgotten. Now back to what I was saying. God says he loves all his children. But yet he damns all his creation if they don't accept his word which was written by men. And Men are people who are not perfect. What loving God would Damn his children? Saying that The christian god if correct is a hater and does not love but hates.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Gene

      Christian is a term used by most that do not understand or even know what it means. I havent called you names. So as I see it are all athiest like you filled with hate for everyone not like you. You have all right to believe as you do as do I. And I do belief in the precepts of Scripture, you do not have too, and you have that right not to but it doesnt mean that your veiw is right for you have a right to be wrong.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Congratulations on your display of hypocrisy, Gene. You just proved the point of everyone here.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Andrew

      Gene, if that's an excuse to pretend that the quotes I provided don't show that Christians do exactly what you accuse atheists of as well, then you're committing a "no true Scotsman" fallacy in its most transparent form. "No Scotsman would ever murder a fellow individual" "Well what about that serial killer two weeks ago from north Scotland?" "No TRUE Scotsman would ever murder a fellow individual".

      If you haven't been seeing Christians threatening eternal damnation, if you haven't seen Christians calling others a 'fool', if you haven't seen Christians accusing people of being Satan's pawns, if you haven't seen Christians spread any of the vitrol you accuse atheists of spreading, YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION. And ignoring the quotes on the grounds of "well they're not true Christians" is a no true Scotsman, plain and simple.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  16. JustAguy

    You know maybe theres something more than Jesus going on in this day. You look at Moses in his day what he did and what took place. Or you look at Eziekel in his day and what took place and what he wrote and did. Jesus's time did not last to the end of time. I don't like the spin that the Catholic church added to Jesus's stay here. However they had their own interest not to mention the fact that they were the people that sentenced him. Dosen't make a whole lot of sense.

    If you look at this day and what is taking place right now. You just might find that Jesus's time has ended. Not to mention the fact that an embelished Jesus means you just might be worshipping someone or something else and don't even realize it. Just because their are church's dosen't mean they are not cleverly disgusied for something else with some unwitting attending. Not all of course. After all a Mosque is considered a clever disguise for worshipping someone or something else other than the True God if you can call him that. Many Chrisitans consider that and don't consider they may be in something off themseleves. Back in the days of Temple. It mainly consisted of sitting and listening. Nothing fancy except what was there of course. Moses was considered the lawgiver. Ezekiel had his tag to although no one really considers that one. Jesus is considered the Messiah. Was Jesus a King? I don't think so. I think that is a clever disguise and thwarting of what is taking place today. How could he be the Messiah and King? Maybe a King would be someone else. Not Martin Luther either.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Man that was rambling and incoherent. What's your point?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  17. *Insert witty name here*

    Why is it that people are whining about Playboy being in the bible? there is incest, genocide, murder, nudity and all that yummy cream filling in the bible already, what's so bad about a little more nudity?

    August 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Where's that post-er John? he has all the bible freek p0rn quotes.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  18. SciGuy

    The lead pic is flawed. One doesn't hide an embarrassing magazine inside a book with smaller boundaries. Any nube knows that.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • asrael

      Always good to have a nube expert on board...

      August 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Asreal: indeed, glad to be of service.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  19. jeebus

    your statements are so illogical, they give christians a headache too.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • jeebus

      that post was meant for 'da king'. oh, that makes cringe...

      August 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  20. Da King

    These comments are heart breaking proof that the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are absolutely true.
    If those commenting knew Jesus, there would be few comments. Most of these comments reflect fear of the unknown.
    The peace you seek is unattainable for you, while freely given to you. You criticize the love of God because you can
    not comprehend it. We know that the gate is narrow and few will enter through it. I am sad for you. I pray that someday you can accept the love of Jesus and be reborn.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      Amen. Jesus Christ is the ONLY way.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Read John 3. These folk need to embrace the Son of God by faith, not "accept the love of Jesus." And they must be reborn to do this; they are not reborn because they do it, they will do it only if God regenerates them. They are utterly dependent on God for their salvation.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • 21k

      da king: so the billions of people who were not xtians, and lived a miserable life of horrific poverty in say india, africa, etc. , are automatically doomed to eternal blackness? but you middle class xtians who were baptized by your parents before you could talk are going to be saved? are you sure your savior works that way? the least shall inherit.... i'm thinking those unfortunates who never set foot into a church will be saved, not you. jesus did not stop hitler, so i'm not sure i want to meet him.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • bananaspy

      We criticize it because you're making it up, not because we don't understand it.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • jeebus

      @sciguy: already did. it's flawed. end of fairy tale.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Your god is some kind of jerk for not taking his word over to the Americas until 1500 years after Christ. All those souls never even had a chance. And when christians finally get a sea worthy boat so god could cross the ocean, what does he do? Bring along diseases that wipe out millions, just months before they too could hear the good word and be saved. That was really unfair of god.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Tallu, God is your judge, not you his.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sci: You god is a jerk and I will judge him as I see fit. I would rather burn in hell than worship a creep who needed to create a life form so that someone would worship him, then condemn half of them to suffer for eternity because he couldn't be bothered to let them know he exists. But frankly I refuse to believe in a human fabrication like the god of the bible.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Tallu, sometimes we get our druthers. I hope you don't in this case. Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Jesus Christ! I wish that religious people would acknowledge the gaping holes in the logic of their faith!

      Doe that count, SciGuy?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Da King

      Well I guess I stirred things up a little. To all the nonbelievers out there, this may help. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
      So, with out the spirit of God living in you, things of the Spirit will seem foolish. When God knows that you have accepted His Son as your Lord and Savior, He will send the Holly Spirit to live in you. Then you will be born of the Spirit or born again. You were originally born of flesh. If you ever believe, you will know. You will be a new person... really! The minute I believed I became a new person and I have known the peace of God ever since. It's not what you think. It is what God knows about you. ALL are invited. Who so ever believes in the Son, will be saved. You can't fake it.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • tallulah13

      DaKing? If you want to convert atheists, proof is your best bet.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:20 am |
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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.