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.


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. dutch

    The church can help, but most think the church is only going to tell you to pray or confess, but that's not true, many churches are taking action realizing it's not enough to say stop but something more needs to be done. The church meaning individuals who love God and care about people, working together can make a difference. It's not enough to go to a doctor and get meds. or a psychologist or therapist you have to have help possibly on many fronts. But I will say the right group of people who love God and want to help others, will do wonders in this area.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Chris

      Most religious groups, including the various Christian churches (Catholic, mainstream Protestant, and - God knows! - fundamentalist Bible thumpers), need to sweep their own houses clean and think less about imposing THEIR point of view.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  2. kzep

    Faith and science do not work as a team to answer the universe's questions. That's just wishful thinking. Sometimes there is no compromise.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Sometimes there is no compromise."

      Then truly you are lost.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Colin

      There is absolutely no comprimise. Science leads us to where the evidence points. If this is inconsistent with Bronze Age religions, they must yield.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • AGuest9

      i wonder how that geocentric model of the universe is working for the zealots?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Chris

      Colin is kinda right. That's not to say we can't incorporate those ideas, or understand why they believed what they did in order to perhaps find our own blind spots by learning from their experiences. But ultimately, we know more today than any other people that have ever existed on earth. The same will be true with the next generation. To ignore this "evolution" is insanity. Religious people should recognize that (if there is a god), part of his plan is for us to test our boundaries, learn what we can, etc. It would be disrespectful not to explore his creation, no? My biggest problem with organized religion is that it seems to hinder us/distract us from moving forward as a society. We bicker over philisophical issues, when we should be focusing on the budget or funding stem cells such that hopefully we can lower healthcare costs in the future. If I was god, and I created something in my own image..... my ultimate goal would be for that creation to become my equal (think of how you personify your puppy or how parents relish their childs developmental steps). I'd imagine he sits around shaking his head a great deal of the time as he watches us bicker and kill, simply to stop others from doing what they wiish to do.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • Colin

      Chris, that was well put. You have obviously given it a lot of thought. What it boils down to is, whenever we have a choice between what science has taught us and what we WISH was the case, based on our preconceived religious notions, the latter have to give way. If they don’t we end up in some Orwellian double-speak dynamic, trying like contorted fools to maintain the indefensible, such as a 6,000 year old World or a 13,700,000,000 year old sky-fairy

      August 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      if you two are going to have a butt kissing slober fest, you should get a room

      August 21, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Colin

      Crhis, to pick up on HJ's suggestion, I guess it is too much to expect that "Chris" is short for "Christine" and that you are a shapely 30 year-old redhead with DD breasts, a hyperactie $ex drive, a fear of emotional commitment and a few hours to spare, hey?

      If so, I wil believe in a god.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  3. Zeke2112

    Christian therapy to fix a "problem" that was created by Christians in the first place?

    Excuse me whilst I vomit.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • bill

      there is nothing Christian about what these outfits do. They are just groups that prey on the unsuspecting and the uninformed christians to take their money. Spritual pick pockets

      August 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  4. Roland

    Just buy some ps3 to solve your crises.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  5. It_flyer

    Good luck with all that.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • equalrights

      Why didn't they place a Playboy inside of the Quran, instead of the Bible?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Realist

      Well, I guess xtian or muslim, all the same anyway.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I don't know if you caught the header of this article, equalrights, but it's about a "christian" ministry. A bible is actually appropriate here. Do try to pay attention.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  6. mommytoane

    Lust is described as strongly desiring something. Soooo...wouldn't lusting after money be a sin? So all our rich congressmen, all our rich people are lustful right?
    I think the bible needs to be reconized as a basis...not as a fundamental in life. I think people need to reexamine things, and realize that they sin..no matter who they are...ALL day long. And I think people need to stop and realize...that by judging, they are sinning the worst. Ifonly *God* Judges...then they are the worst sinners.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Which is why the Rev Martin Luther King memorial is opening this week on the national Mall in DC and Malcolm X is just on street signs.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Without Malcolm X, MLK's job would have been vastly more difficult. Radicals move the center to where even a one time outsider like MLK can be "safely" embraced as a national hero. I'm not saying MLK is not a legitimate hero. I'm saying Malcolm X is one, too.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
  7. Hitler the Christian Hero

    Hitler was Christian and most of Germany was Christian. Christians did this. Or they call themselves Christians.


    August 21, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ok .... I raise you Martin Luther King ....whoops Reverend Martin Luther King.

      I think he called himself a Christian too. 😀


      August 21, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • There is nothing like an angry black man

      Uh huh


      August 21, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • steve

      hitler wasnt a christian he said in his journal that he wished the germans were like the jaspanese and would die for him as their god. he tried to reeplace christianity with himself when he made it mandetory for mien kampf (his book) to be visible on every dinner table. why would he do that? because that is where the bible traditionally was.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Whoops ....Which is why the Rev Martin Luther King memorial is opening this week on the national Mall in DC and Malcolm X is just on street signs.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • A man of morals has no place in organized religion


      August 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Mr Wallace, he has a very good point about America, land of the Christian


      August 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  8. tensai13

    Religion provides no solutions to problems of human nature or anything else because religion is based on a false premise to begin with, that is a false belief in the existence of supernatural beings with power over us and the physical universe. This is one big reason atheists feel pity for the religiously deluded rather than anger. That being said any fixed dogma is ultimately dangerous and self-destructive, whether Christianity or Communism.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • bill

      you speak through your A**

      August 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Realist

      Correct tensia

      August 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • steve

      people who believe in miracles do so because they have evidence for them. people who don't believe in miracles don't because they have dogma against it. -C.S. Lewis Atheists have just as much dogma and faith as Christians.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Realist

      there never has been a single miracle. Not one. That is known.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Known by who, you and your friends.... geez. Go up and watch the first clip on Malcolm X, seems that you extremist seem to speak the same language.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  9. AGuest9

    To everyone wishing that the atheists would stop coming onto a "Belief Blog" and spouting anti-god facts, please stay out of my childrens' schools with your Panda's Thumb and evolution "is just a theory" nonsense, and I'll be glad to stay off your "Belief Blog". Until then, I have my First Amendment right to express my knowledge that religious belief does not scientific theory make.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • bill

      Scientific fact does not my existance make.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Many to most of the times it is not anti-God facts but just insults and ridicule. Some of the worst say that they do it for purpose.

      There are Atheist that come to the Belief Blog and have had respectful exchanges but how can you expect decent exchanges with folks that just troll to instigate?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • AGuest9

      So, bill, that computer you just typed that on. No scientific facts were required to make it work? No electron flow? No semiconductor theory? No AC power generation, or DC power conversion? Tell me, if you don't believe in scientific fact, are you floating around inside your house, since you don't believe in gravitation? Did you get a flu shot last year? Do you know WHY there has to be a new flu shot every year? Evolution!

      August 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>"Did you get a flu shot last year? Do you know WHY there has to be a new flu shot every year? "

      I would chalk that up more to the need for more money. If I owned a dru'g company what would hold me back from saying that what I sold last year does not work and you have to buy millions of dollars of my new dru'gs?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • AGuest9

      A flu shot isn't a drug. It consists of the stunted flu virii of the most likely strains of influenza thought to be present in the population that fall/winter, based on the flu strains present in Asia over the summer. They are NEVER the same strain. They evolve.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      AGuest, please stay out of my government with your religion. Please stay of my television with your religion. Please stay off the sidewalks of the city where I live. Please stop coming to my door to tell me your "good news". Please keep your pseudoscience out of public schools. When you do that, maybe we atheists won't feel the need to respond to you here.

      And mark, you know good and well that the religious posters are just as rude as the atheists. Be honest. Be fair.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      The Flu shot is a drug. It is chemical made up by pharmaceutical companies and covered under the Food and Drug administration.

      While I do believe that new strains come out, do you not find it funny that today folks are getting more and more injections than they ever did throughout history and they look weaker than their parents and grandparents?

      This will blow your mind.... George Carlin...a Atheist, once challenged this very topic. Every year the drug companies make more and more money telling us that there are more and more strains of diseases. Ever wonder why in 3rd world countries they are dealing with Malaria but rarely do you hear this great push for flu shots?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • AGuest9

      tallulah13 – you are obviously as illiterate as mark is ignorant of basic immunology.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • AGuest9

      influenza B
      Haemophilus influenza Type B (THE FLU), polyribosylribitol phosphate (A FLU COMPLEX CONJUGATE-DISABLES THE FLU PHAGOCYTE) , ammonium sulfate (A PURIFICATION AGENT), formalin (A FORM OF FORMALDEHYDE, USED TO DISABLE THE FLU VIRII) , and sucrose (SUGAR).

      WHERE IS THE "DRUG", MARK?????

      August 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  10. Andrew

    “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,”

    For the Conscious, this is called "self-awareness".

    August 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Realist

      I don't mins as long as the religionist stop brainwashing their children, let kids be kids. Then again, brainwashing sticks longer if you start them as children

      August 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I don't mind as long as the Atheist stop brainwashing their children, let kids be kids.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Andrew, I understand what you're saying completely because I was a christian for the first half of my life, and I had the same opinion about prayer and emotional well-being. Let me help you into your future. This feeling of well-being - doesn't require christianity to exist. You can have that same feeling without believing in a deity. Close your eyes and picture the world without a deity. Now open your eyes. Everything is still the same.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      "I don't mind as long as the Atheist stop brainwashing their children, let kids be kids."

      So, you mean, don't tell them anything about religion at all? Because that – ATHEISM – is the default human religious setting until nutjobs with a bible interfere. Cheers.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • jeebus

      i agree with enjaysea. it's all about perception with the information we have at hand. keep an open mind. scientific facts are changing everyday. religious thought should evolve in much the same way – when new information is learned.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      My children are free to believe anything they like. They also know that if they get involved in religion, they will not inherit so much as one cent!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Sorry Zeke. It is just another view. My view is that humans have always looked towards a higher being and also if it were the default then why the similarities in Faith around the planet? People that had not had contact with outside groups and cultures all came up with basically the same figure.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Mark, humanity invented gods because the didn't understand the natural processes that were going on around them. Why do you suppose that there are so many gods of thunder or rain, birth or death? Many pantheons were created as family units that echo the family unit comfortable to humans. Is it any surprise that so many gods are father figures? Even the core of christianity is a family unit.

      Now that we have a better understanding of our world, many of us have lost the need to create supernatural beings to give us comfort. Death is pretty much the last frontier, which is why I think christianity with it's promise of eternal life has such a toehold in the western psyche.

      Humanity has grown up and those of us who understand that are not afraid to leave the metaphorical nest of religion.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  11. Joshua

    Sin IS addictive ...

    August 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  12. Christian Lover

    Christianity is the religion of peace and love. The crusaders were not christians


    August 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Dave836

      Crusades were the result of corruption. Not Christianity.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      They thought they were christians. Who are you to say they weren't?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  13. John Smith

    Hmmm, let me think.

    Teach people s-e-xis basically bad/evil, teach people s-e-xis only for procreation, teach people anything but unsatisfying missionary position is unacceptable, deny a deep and fundamental human drive and let's see how that plays out for everyone...

    Yeah, let's run that experiment.

    Or, you can have wild, amazing, mind-blowing s-e-x where both parties care deep about the satisfying the needs and pleasures of the other and ensure they don't have any s-e-x ual energy for anything else.

    I'll opt for the latter.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Heather C.

      Ha ha! I agree with you John! And many Christians would agree as well, just within the confines of a loving marriage. Not all Christians teach about boring se.x.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  14. Heather C.

    Everyone has a way they think they should live and believe others should follow it. What's wrong with hearing both sides? What's wrong with an open, friendly discussion as to the differences in all our beliefs? What's wrong with finding common ground? If you believe p.ornography is not a sin or a problem, that's your decision. Just like believing it's a sin is my decision. Why the hostility? Isn't it far better to give everyone the ability to voice their opinions in a respectful manner? Yes, Christians get judgmental (and that usually comes out of ignorance or fear), but so does everyone else at some point. We're all human after all. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Not every Christian is judgmental and hypocritical. There are those of us out there that prefer to leave the judgment to God. 🙂

    August 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Heather , there are open minded and hearted Atheist out there and in here, but to some Atheist any person of Faith is a enemy. Its like Black Militants, to them all whites are evil and have done something or desired to do something to destroy the black community. You can show good white people after good white people to them they are lost in their hate. The same is with a few Atheist here.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • asrael

      Mark, I'm going to do you a favor; actually, two favors. One: the words "atheism" and "atheist" are not capitalized unless either word begins a sentence. Two: the plural of atheist is atheists, with an "s". Enjoy...

      August 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • jeebus

      yes, reasonable people can agree to disagree. when 'some' christians mention the sword of god cutting non-believers to pieces, that is just over the top. and telling others that they are going to fire and brimstone for engaging in lustful situations is highly dubious. on the other hand, atheists cannot prove the concept of god as wrong. nobody really knows; that's what faith is all about.

      i hope god comes from another planet with higher intelligence, because i would sure like to do that star trek stuff. maybe we can learn about even more 'stimulating' ideas from alien civilizations. doesn't it seem ridiculous that humans on earth are the only intelligent life in the universe?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  15. Phil

    Is it addictive? For some, yes.

    Can the church help? Probably not. Why? Because the church believes in healing through prayer, a fantasy which is 100% ineffective, instead of therapy with a licensed doctor.

    The church isn't going to cure you. The church isn't going to cure gays. The church isn't going to do anything but promote indifference and hate towards other groups who believe differently from them.

    If you really want to continue believing in voodoo and magic, which is what all religions are – that's fine. The rest of us, the free thinkers, the intelligent ones, will continue to use science to come up with different ways to cure things which prayer has never accomplished.

    There is absolutely no proof that god exists.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • James Bond

      and none that He doesn't.

      Also, being a Christian doesn't imply idiocy, just that you're capable of faith. There's no reason why science and faith can't work in unison. As it should.

      I agree with you on everything though.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Heather C.

      Phil, I agree with you. The church cannot "cure" anything. People come through the church doors expecting it to be a fix-all, and most people in the church believe they are the fixers. I don't believe the church can "cure" people's lives, but I do believe that God can. I've seen the pain that people go through with a serious addiction to p.ornography, but I've also seen where churchgoers get completely out of hand and condemn someone for looking at it once or twice. We're human and we weren't made to be perfect. And I also believe that science and faith can work together. My suggestion, don't bother with those that will just degrade your thoughts and not hear you. If you haven't already, which I would suppose you have, speak with people who believe in God but have an intellectual understanding of what they believe and why. My suggestion, seek an intelligent conversation with a college professor on religion. If you want to believe there is no God, seek it out and spend time gathering information from multiple sources from each side.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hmm.... Well Doctor Phil and Doctor Drew... I wonder if Amy Winehouse's body is even cold yet. How many others have gone the doctors route and end up even worst. Is it really healing when you are doped up on so many drugs that you really are not you anymore? A addict can lie to therapist just like a addict can lie to his Priest.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Phil

      @Heather C. - I have listened to both sides. I became an atheist more than 20 years ago.

      @Mark from Middle River - I agree that an addict can, and probably will lie to people. I watched my older brother do this for years before he finally shot himself in the head, in front of our parents.

      I'm not here to tell anyone that you're wrong for believing that god exists...but evidence suggests otherwise. I'm highly analytical and use logic and reason to figure everything out. When that crossed into my belief of being catholic, I saw all sorts of flaws and holes throughout the religion. I looked further into other religions and found the same to be true with all of them.

      In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, religion is nothing more than a tool, created by mankind (not suggested by god) thousands of years ago to do nothing more than control people through force and fear. Religion is abusive. You might not see it so much these days, especially here in the United States – well actually you do. Look at the morons who belong to Westboro Baptist Church. They're all a–holes.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  16. Rich

    Why does CNN always post articles about Christianity? I just realized that the REAL troll is CNN. Always trying to incite arguments.....

    August 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Realist

      You sound immature ..

      August 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • jeebus

      well then, i would suggest you not visit fox news. it's getting really ugly over there.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Realist, he is not that far from the truth. Barely any positive articles on Faith but article after article that incites fights.

      We, both Atheist and Christians are just gladiators that have been given an arena to entertain some folks at CNN.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Belief blog. This section of CNN only posts religion articles. Why have a belief blog? Because it's making CNN tons of cash.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • asrael

      By all means, Rich: for some, ignoring religion would be a step up. I'm not sure that is a goal to be sought after...

      August 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Realist

      Fewer religionist each year, children spared from brainwashing. You think delusion<- religion, = reality ? Please spare the rest of us. Religion is not in the same league as intellectuals.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Dave836

      They get money from bigots constantly arguing on the comments. The more comments. The more money.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  17. Skyler

    Compared to many comments I read here, the language in my post is really tame. But CNN won't post it. I can't imagine why. No demeaning words or phrases. No swears. No questionable combinations of words. I don't get it, CNN.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Helpful Henry

      Skyler, It could be hidden words-within-words... check over your post and look for them:

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN auto filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Helpful Henry

      p.s: I think p.orn is one of them too - go figure!

      August 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  18. JR

    I don't know whether to pity these sorry thumpers or LMFAO.

    August 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  19. sheetiron

    This really is a stupid question. The Christian ministry to s e x addicts obviously is productive. I'm living proof.

    August 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • asrael

      Remind us just what the "stupid question" is...

      August 21, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I'm not entirely sure what you mean by being proof. Are you proof that it works because you are no longer a s-ex addict, or proof that it didn't work for your parents?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  20. MrPragmatic

    When I was in college I used to take dates to the church to which I had keys. It was a great late night make-out place. And on the ocassions when things progressed past just making out, there was not a better place to be when the shrieks of "Oh God!" were uttered by my date. Truthfully, it was quite a spiritual experience that I still recall fondly 30 years later.

    August 21, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
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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.