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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. Brian Weseman

    Sure it can bear fruit. Twisted, half-rotten, hypocritical and neurotic fruit. It's been bearing that for the last two thousand years or so. Look around you- it's created more addicts than it's "saved", and minted more wolves in sheep's clothing too. Not sure this is a question that even needs asking.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • gary

      agree – Xtianity / Islam have created wars, murders, torture, witch trials, burning at the stake, Spanish Inquisitions, raping of children, ad nausium. And, religions (myths) hold us back from true, scientific, progress.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  2. gary

    SO sick of Xtians ! SO sick of them feel they have to 'fix' everyone. It's all senseless myth, and they want everyone to buy into their sick cult.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  3. Me

    Every time I see that Cnn has an opinion hit on religion, I groan. It's either someone ridiculing believers in a subtle or not-subtle way. Sad.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • Zeus

      Yeup, it's totally one sided in here. Of course, if you don't like it, no one is forcing you to read.

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

      god is myth

      August 21, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • rufusclyde

      I've read as many preemptive strikes by the religious anticipating attacks by atheists, rather than responding to a particular atheist.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  4. Nuke Prof

    Going to church doesn't make a person a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes a person an automobile. Lots of people wear the facade.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • rufusclyde

      But if you give them 10% of your income, they'll let you call yourself a Christian.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  5. KJV

    I skipped the article and came right to the comments. If you don't believe in God why are you even on this site? If you hate Christians so much why do you punish yourself by wasting your time posting on this site? Take a chill pill and go play golf.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • rufusclyde

      If you're too lazy to read the article, then why did you come to this site, and bear false witness about the posts you haven't read?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • gary

      Why? Because we want everyone to know many agree religions are myths, that many good, smart, sensible people know that deities, demons, dragons, trolls, fairies, etc are all pretend. Wanna bow to a pretend ghost? OK, but leave the rest of us alone.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Tom

      It's important to argue with people who don't agree with you. If you argue with people who agree with you then you really are wasting your time.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  6. John

    First, to all Catholics who belive in "God Almight, Jesus and the Holy Spirit," maybe I miss the history lesson but when was it proven that said 3 things and your book (the Bible) was proven to be true and the only "true religion" of this world??? ANd do not use the Bible as proof as I am looking for an outside source for proving Christianity is the "one and only one religion."

    And shouldn't the Catholic church FIRST deal with all the pepophiles and abusers within their own system (beterwise known as priest, brothers, and nuns)?

    August 21, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  7. David

    Dear all, one came to prophet Muhammad and said, I can`t stop myself from having adultery relations.
    Prophet told him, do you have wife? he said yes.
    Prophet asked, do you want her to have adultery relations with someone? the man said of course no.
    Prophet asked, do you have daughter? the man said yes.
    Prophet asked, do you want her to have adultery relations with someone? the man said of course no.
    Prophet asked do you have female relatives? the man said yes.
    Prophet asked, do you want them to have adultery relations with someone? the man said of course no.
    Prophet said, so the woman you will have adultery realtions with is wife or daughter or mother, aunt, sister or relative of other people. if you do not want adulttery relations for you loved ones do not have adultery relations with other people`s loved ones.
    the man said thanks and gave up his addiction to adultery.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  8. WJM Knight

    I just to think born-again Christians were a bunch of jerk-offs and now I'm convinved of it.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • barkingfox

      Maybe it's still true!.....just kidding...

      August 21, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  9. barkingfox

    Is there such a thing as a GOOD pagan? That was a question recently posed by, I assume, by a "good" christian. And the answer is of course there a good pagan's. Pagan's believe that the earth is to be loved, not abused. Christian's don't, because they believe that god "GAVE" them earth for their's to do with as they please. Pagan's love almost all people. They'RE honest about who don't like and why... Christian only love other christians and believe that all others are damned to hell if not converted to christianity...and they will torture and kill you if you resist...check out world history!!!!! Pagan's have also done their share of killing through out history because, regrettable that seems to be what people do. The difference is that christians will torture and kill you and tell everyone it was for their own good. A Pagan's just killed people and didn't try to lie about why they did it. Christian also want EVERYONE to believe exactly what they believe. Pagan's think everyone should "believe" in any way that make's them a better person.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Gumby

      Ain't it funny how, no matter what the claimed religion, people tend to act like people? Religion may make one feel special, but it is an illusion. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus... it doesn't matter. People are just people, no matter what "club" they affiliate themselves with. Tell that to a self-sanctified "True Christian", though...

      August 21, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Whatever

      So it was totally fine that pagans killed people throughout history, but the same crime should be held against Christians forever? Nobody currently participating in either religion had anything to do with the gruesome actions of the past; therefore both groups should be judged based on their current actions. I am not trying to downplay the cruelty of Christians in the past, but is it fair to attack a group for all eternity based on things that happened hundreds of years ago? Things have changed for the better. Go look up Catholic Relief Services and see some of the good that Christianity is doing today.

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

      Whatever I agree that attacking the messenger is the ad hominem fallacy. But what about when past events are literally codified in present doctrine, like Constantine deciding which books got included in the Bible?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Whatever

      @ rufusclyde you make an excellent point. Constantine and a counsel of Christian leaders did chose which books at add to the Bible (more specifically the New Testament and Gospels); but there is nothing they added that condoned the killing and torture of non-Christians. The books chosen were more influenced by some sort of early church power struggle. In an effort to hand themselves more power, the early church leaders omitted several other books which advocated a more personal relationship with God outside of the confines of a church structure. This of course was an example of early church corruption, but it doesn't mean that the principles of the Christian faith are inherently violent or evil. It means that the "church proper" is a bureaucratic mess. Thank you for your polite challenge and your willingness to discuss these things like adults.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • rufusclyde

      @Whatever: I would argue maybe gnosticism is closer to what Christ had in mind than what we've got now. As for condoning torture, killing, burning witches, etc., I'd have to go back and read some history of those times. But I would point out that some literalists say that the concept of the Trinity means that Jesus is God, and that Jesus therefore really did write the Old Testament, and condone all the violence, e.g. Leviticus, therein. Thanks for the polite exchange.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  10. Dave from GA

    No one but only God should judge the living and dead people on this Earth. Your sins will be forgiven.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Then why do so many of your religious brethren presume to know the mind of God and pass judgement on His behalf?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Gumby

      Which God?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • Zeus

      me

      August 21, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  11. Otto

    Do you have to begin posting insane comments so early on a Sunday morning? What's wrong with sleeping until 10AM? Go back to bed you Internet trolls!

    August 21, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Internet trolls

      You can sleep all you want, even until the earth worms is done devouring your filthy flesh. But don't you dare to tell when should I wake-up to make posts on Sundays.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  12. myklds

    It never cease to amuse me to see all atheists down here complaining on top of their God-allergic lungs about believers shoving their belief down their God-intolerant throaths but how they epically fail to realise that they are = or even > guilty of the crime. By not only hammering their unbelief down to believers throaths but also they are getting under believers noses.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • myklds

      throats*

      August 21, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Stevie7

      Tell you what, when believers want to stop using my tax dollars to further their agenda and stop trampling on others' civil rights, then I'll be quiet. Fair?

      And when was the last time that an atheist knocked on your door telling you how you would forever be tormented if you didn't believe exactly as they did?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:47 am |
    • nofed

      Atheists are ignorant because they fail to recognize that those who decent people still follow in the concepts of morality of god and religious doctrine. Their ideas still relies on religion for concepts.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • John Richardson

      Posting in an open forum consti-tutes shoving beliefs down someone's throat? See, it's idiotic comments like this that make it seem that simple concepts like freedom of thought and expression are beyond the capacity of many Christian's comprehension.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Why don't you respond to a particular atheist, rather than make a generalization that I can't find on this board this morning?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • WJM Knight

      No one forcing you to click on the story or read the comments. Yet another reason why you born-again christians are nuts.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Jeffrey

      "Atheists are ignorant because they fail to recognize that those who decent people still follow in the concepts of morality of god and religious doctrine"

      This cracks me up. Sure, condemn the atheists. Why not condemn the pedaphile priests who spread this religious doctrine and prey on defensely young children. The church is filled with very evil people.

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

      No one is telling you to become an atheist. That is in contrast to you Christians, who always try to force their religion on others. You're just upset because atheists dare to speak their minds and voice their opinions. Get used to it, godbot. You religious extremists aren't the only ones who have the right to free speech.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • mb2010a

      You seem to have a very obvious fascination with jamming things down people's throats...you may need to seek professional help. Perhaps masturbation would help...

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

      @ Stevie

      Dont' you know that 90%+ of the tax payers are believers?

      You should slow down your pretension that this country's wealth is being provided by a minority group where you are in.

      @John

      So you meant to say that exercising religious freedom without violating state laws is "shoving down someone's throat"? and deserves to be mocked and ridiculed. While your "freedom of expression of thoughts" which includes but not limited to name callings in this forum that supposedly for "lively and couteous discussion is acceptable and should be understood and respected?

      Wow, I mean WOW! How typical.

      rufusclyde

      I'm sorry if I did not aim my comments to a specific post. I just find too many of them. Scan the posts and replies that you may find it yourself.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • myklds

      @ mb2010a

      TSK! What a hopless case..TSK! TSK! Even Science can't help you. TSK! TSK! TSK! Sorry, but there's no meds. ever discovered to to cure extreme arrogance.

      May I know where you came from? It find it quite amazing to discover a place that's not yet civilised but has modern technology such computer and internet.

      To the rest, except nofed

      How typical.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Stevie7

      @mykids – please go read the first amendment.

      sigh. The consti.tution isn't a popularity contest. If you don't like it, go form your own theocracy.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Stevie7

      "You should slow down your pretension that this country's wealth is being provided by a minority group where you are in."

      Reading comprehension is not your strong suit. I said nothing even resembling that.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  13. Two Witnesses

    People..the whole problem here is your misconception of sin. Once you realize that every human being sins, and accept that, and then accept that the only way you'll get out of it is through Christ, then you'll be ok. Christ is not trying to get you to give up your sinful ways, because he knows you can't. He merely wants you to follow him to glory. What is so hard about that? I really don't understand how you can refuse such a simple offer? It costs you nothing to accept. It costs eternity to refuse. What have you got to loose by accepting? I mean really, try to grow a brain and rationalize it out scientifically, it's a pretty simple choice, really! DUH!

    August 21, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Is being addicted to pushing your religion onto others a sin?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      ...see..you just made "The CHoice"...didn't you?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Gumby

      2/3 of the world disagrees with your statement that Jesus is the only way. You are in the distinct minority. Religious bigotry always cracks me up.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • jimbo junior

      No, Two Witnesses, the whole problem is that ignorance like your's runs rampant.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • edweird69

      Ummm... I don't follow something that doesn't exist... duh!

      August 22, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  14. Jeffrey

    It's much easier for the church to tell you to stop masterbating and watching than it is for the church to succeed at stopping priest pedaphiles. Funny, eh?

    August 21, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  15. Johnson

    What will those Fundamentalists come up with next. They should focus their energy on Mormonism since it may rule the country soon.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:33 am |
    • nofed

      you ask me cause you fundamentally non religious. lol

      August 21, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      You are obviously speaking of Mitt Romney. He doesn't rule anything, nor does any man.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  16. rufusclyde

    Is being addicted to posting comments in the internet a sin?

    August 21, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      Yes

      August 21, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Two Witnesses So go forth from these fora, and sin no more.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      ...ahhh but Jesus commands me to come here and spread the Word! 🙂

      August 21, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Gumby

      Jesus didn't command you to do anything. If Jesus ever existed at all, it was as a mortal like the rest of us, and has been dead for 2,000 years. Get over it.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  17. Al-Suq A'Kweer

    Lawd-DUH...save me from your followers!

    August 21, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • nofed

      Save your self from your ignorance.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • Gumby

      Al-Suq A'Kweer – RAmen!

      (Clever screen name...)

      August 21, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  18. samuel

    Every invention has a patent number and a name attached to it, for all you non-believers, who has invented us? There has to be someone. As for God, God did not make us, mankind made the name God, to use as a shield and cover for their wrongdoings and benefit. Every human being has a father, how many of them listen and respect their fathers? Even when a human is born from a donor, when they grow up they try to find their father, Do we?

    August 21, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • Stevie7

      "Every invention has a patent number and a name attached to it, for all you non-believers, who has invented us?".

      Well, of course, an invention doesn't have to get patented, but I have zero clue how one can use the patent system as a logical justification for a god. If everything has been invented, then who invented god?

      Why is it, exactly, that you think that we need to be invented? How is it that you see other new species being "invented".

      There are some philosphical arguments which, while I don't agree with them, at least kind of make sense. This is not one of them.

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

      Sammy, that was a phenomenal display of ignorance. Study science, things like earth science and evolution, learn a few things, then get back to us.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  19. towerthree

    please, all religion, just go away...

    August 21, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • nofed

      Including your religion of no religion. fact is your statement is ignorant and fanatical because it fails to take in account the historical significance of certain ideas and concepts that are good out of religion. whether you realize or not unless you full blown criminal all your morality in action and belief you have right now, values comes from religious beliefs. so you cant escape it buddy.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • David

      Ah yes religious beliefs. .Deuteronomy 13:6-9 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield himYou must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Brian Weseman

      If the "religion of no religion" were to go away, how would we have a world without religion then? To be honest we'd be a whole lot better off without all the neuroticism and hypocrisy, but I rather imagine the lot of you are just too scared to let go of it. Lust is one of those things the living do and that's why half you folks are dead. The rest of you just play at it. All of you fear it. Because you've been taught to.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Stevie7

      "values comes from religious beliefs."

      How do you know this? You don't. There's plenty of actual evidence (read: not an ancient book written by man) that tells us that our morality is derived from evolution. Quite simply, morals are required for species to form civilizations. No deity required.

      And how is not having a belief a belief or religion? Is not playing football a sport. Do you have a belief in not believing in the tooth fairy?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • Gumby

      Religion is the greatest evil ever to plague mankind.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Gumby

      "Nofed" is simply regurgitating the typical stock logic-challenged responses from Christian apologetics websites... "Atheism is a religion"... "morality comes from religion"... utter nonsense. Brainless parroting.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • bensonhurst

      now that is a statement i can agree with,

      August 21, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Don Camp

      @ Gumby Atheisim is a worldview. Every worldview is founded upon an assumption that is not provable; it is simply taken as faith. In that sense atheism is a faith, though perhaps not a religion.

      As a Christian I am convinced that morality does not come from religion. It is built into every (normal) person. It matters not whether you are an atheist or a Hindu. Moral convictions are, of course, molded by environment and experience, but it is human to have moral convictions of some kind. It comes from being made in God's image. It is part of the image of God.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  20. blake

    There is a distorted notion that many hold that addiction is not sin. That people are not responsible for their behavior when an addiction is present. This notion is false. Addiction is often a natural consequence for failure to deal with sin, establishing deep ruts through frequently repeated behavior and ways of thinking that are difficult to get out of.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      All sin is in fact addiction. You can't help it. God is not asking you to give up that sin. He is merely asking that you acknowledge it, and accept that there is no other path to righteousness but through Christ. There was only really one perfect human being, thee can be no others. Don't you get it?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • John Richardson

      'Addiction is often a natural consequence of failing to deal with sin." What on earth are you babbling about?

      August 21, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • Atheist

      I don't get it. Jews are hopeless sinners???

      August 21, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Mtheumer

      "There is a distorted notion that many hold that addiction is not sin"

      Be careful of associating addiction with sin, for even the addiction of worship to the forsaking of your family can be considered a sin.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • tallulah13

      Blake and Two Witnesses have a distorted notion that they know what they're talking about.

      August 22, 2011 at 12:14 am |
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About this blog

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