A rough decade for American congregations
A new survey shows a decline in worship service attendance in the United States.
September 20th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

A rough decade for American congregations

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - A new decade-long survey of American congregations shows religious health and vitality are weaker than they were 10 years ago.  While the survey showed that many congregations are adopting new technologies and innovative worship, there were steep drops in financial health and attendance at weekly worship services.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research released the study's findings Saturday in a report titled "A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000 – 2010" authored by David A. Roozen.

In the measured decade, churches, temples and synagogues told surveyors that congregations that were innovative and contemporary showed the highest amount of "high spiritual vitality."

Forty-seven percent of congregations that said their worship experience was "innovative and contemporary" reported high spiritual vitality, versus 17% that said their congregations were "neither innovative nor contemporary."

The vast majority of congregations implemented electronic communications in the past decade.  Recently, many have turned to social networking as well, with 41% using Facebook to communicate with congregants.

Congregations are also having hard times financially, the survey found.  In 2000, 31% of survey participants reported excellent financial health.  In 2010, that number plummeted to just 14%.

The recession, Roozen writes in the report, "affected nearly every kind of congregation equally – large and small; north, south, east and west; financially healthy or struggling before the recession. One bit of good news was that one in 10 congregations reported that by the time of the survey, they had already begun to recover."

Roozen writes that a variety of factors led to the decline, but overall, there are fewer Americans in the pews, and "... more than 1 in 4 American congregations had fewer than 50 in worship in 2010, and just under half had fewer than 100. Overall, median weekend worship attendance of your typical congregation dropped from 130 to 108 during the decade, according to the FACT surveys."

FACT refers to Faith Communities Today, a multifaith coalition that researches congregational life.

While megachurches - congregations with more than 2,000 members - continued to grow in popularity, they still represent only a fraction of American congregations, at one-half of 1%.  "And while it appears to be true they are attracting an ever bigger slice of the religious attender pie, it is a bigger slice of a shrinking pie," Roozen wrote.

The decline hit across religious and denominational lines, sparing no one, Roozen wrote. He said that "no single category or kind of congregation ... was exempt from the decadal downsizing of worship attendance."

The data came from Faith Communities Today surveys and represents 11,077 congregations and 120 denominations of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, the institute said.  Most often, the surveys were completed by the congregation's leader, and the institute estimates the margin of error to be plus or minus 4 percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church

soundoff (2,018 Responses)
  1. Tim Gard

    Many people use religion as a drug. Ever see how a junkie reacts when you try to take away his stash?

    September 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Google gerin oil

      September 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  2. enough already

    great news. now if we can just get the people leaving church to educate themslelves on the history of religion, they won't have just left the church, they will have left faithism in the dust where it so rightly belongs.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ enough already

      Throughout Time Nations have rose up and have fallen back down. Still, religion has ever flourished and still is,,,,,

      September 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • duh

      "Still, religion has ever flourished and still is,,,,,"

      But not with your specific god. LOL!

      September 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  3. fellowtraveler

    Cedar Rapids- I re-posted my statement because; 1) not everyone has time to spend all day here and read the 1700 comments so for those who missed it earlier I put it back up, and 2) I enjoy reading the replys. Also, what is ilogical about pointing out the fact that all arrangements of physical matter are temporary and so anything dealing with the physical universe is ultimately finite and hence pointless? You know, like the fact that when you die, if nothing of you survives, then all your life that came before becomes pointless. Even if you have family to remember you, they will die as well, and so on, and so on...A possibility that may very well be true. I'm just saying I DON'T KNOW. Do you? Please enlighten me.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • duh

      "You know, like the fact that when you die, if nothing of you survives, then all your life that came before becomes pointless."

      So what. There are millions and millions of people that fall into that category because lets face it history can't remember all of them. LOL! Your logic is quite amusing!

      September 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • MaybeAgnosticMaybeNot

      It's basically the same reason soplosists are nice to others, or why nihilists don't just off themselves. The "point" is what you make of it.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  4. InFormed99

    Simple proof of the NON EXISTANCE of god.

    1. Find someone who believes (truely)
    2. Ask them to ask God to cure cancer in all humans starting tomorrow.
    3. Do a check to see how many cancer patients are still around 2 days later.

    The Bible promises through the word of god that that you ask for will be given to you if you are a believer. This concept is repeated everywhere in the bible in far too many verses to recount.

    Result: Cancer still here. Therefore either:
    a) The person was not as religious as they appeared
    b) The bible lied.
    c) God does not exist.

    a) is easy to fix (try someone else). b) implies c).

    September 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • J

      Wow – you could not have it more backward. The world we live in is a fallen world, one that is corrupted by sin(falling short,apart from God) and outside of god's end plan for us. Cancer, war, famine all stest to this. God sent his son Jesus to take our place on the cross and die for us that we can be redeemed from this mess. Spiritually in this life, even in our weak bodies but physically as well in the next. People always bash God but deny that their is a spirtual war for our hearts and minds everyday. A worl d burdened by sin and Satan's influence is not in God's plan, each one in our heart's door hear's God knocking – all is asked of us is to open the door. God can take all of our questions, anger, sadness and pain and wipe them away, if we just truly prasy/ask God in a genuine way to come into our lives.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Wow J, so the stretch of having a personified deity that created the universe isnt enough. You actually believe that the all powerful being who created everything is in a "spirtual war " with another deity over a bunch of pink monkey's ghost spinning on a tiny spec of a rock through the vast cosmos. That lack of logic is truly scary, let alone the fact that why worship such a infantile being?

      September 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "(23) ... Verily, verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
      (24) Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." —John 16:23-24

      I dunno about YOU, J, but I didn't see any asterisks in there leading to the fine print at the bottom that says "ha ha only kidding" or "offer not valid in some states". "WHATSOEVER" seems pretty all-encompassing, doesn't it?

      September 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ UN Informed99,,,,,,,,,,,

      "Mat 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

      People like you 99, are a dime a dozen in their illed witticisms. The more of you who remark in retrospectives of religious desecrations, the more I know and do believe in GOD and his first Son who in timeliness became Christ Jesus, the Lord and King of all other GOD's Sons. Christ Jesus is the savior for those who, like I do firmly believe upon. I am faithfully devoted to there being an afterlife and nothing you say otherwise is only detrimental to your contrivances of ill will.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • J

      Hi Hasa,

      I actually did like your analogy, colorful but fair. In essence Yes. I do believe this world is fallen and I do believe it can be redeemed. Faith and our relationship to God can’t be written down as a mathematical equation or a simple diagram in school book. But I do believe it’s the most real thing you’ll ever know once you open that door. We’ve been purposely influenced by this world to scoff at anything faith related, it doesn’t take too much to see the spiritual warfare our culture and society is engaged in right now.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      To Richard Kaiser:

      This is a simple enuf deal, Richard. Does the Bible mean what it says or doesn't it? Do Jesus's promises work or don't they?

      After all, the test that InFormed99 suggested was in no way insulting to God. He surely COULD cure all cancer tomoro if he wanted to, couldn't he? And wouldn't it be a kind thing to do? And asking for it is hardly selfish or otherwise a bad thing, is it?

      So where's the problem? Other than the fact that the God you're so devoted to has never, ever materialized to perform any of the endless free miracles he promised us?

      September 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Normon

      What is this corruption you speak of?

      September 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      -sigh- Such a simplistic argument. God isn't a genie or a parlor magician. He will grant things according to His will.


      Ephesians 1:11
      In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

      Philippians 4:19
      And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

      Hebrews 2:4
      God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

      1 John 5:14
      This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Normon

      "God isn't a genie or a parlor magician. He will grant things according to His will."
      Strange how He never seems to "will" anything that can't be attributed to natural causes or simple random chance.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  5. joeah'belle

    To all humanity:
    This thing we call "life" is our so called "God". Just as we inherit things from our parents, we as humans has inherit things from our "creator" life. Trust and know that one of those things is the ability to think and manifest that which was thought of. Now religion and all other organizations concerning humanities portion of "life" has LIES whether it be by ignorance and/or intentionally. Its not good or bad but a way of "life"."God" which is female and male, "life", is honestly right in front of our eyes. "Free Will" is a myth. You have no choice as a human being. You don't control life, you didn't create environment, the universe, nor did create yourself. The literal path you will walk in "life", the earth, was already created before you were born. Your destiny is death, all humans will die. Not a good or bad thing just a way of life. Now for heaven and hell. This thing we call"life" will always have pain and pleasure. That will never change. Guess what "life" is forever! The components that make up "life", will always be, has always been, and will never not be. So we humans in death or animated are a part of "life"
    . A rock doesn't speak, walk, talk, or move on its own but is still a member of "life". Enough for now.


    September 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • InFormed99

      This cannot be god. God would not make so many grammatical errors.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      He is merely above the notion of grammar. It is up to us to properly interpret his holy prose.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  6. BoldGeorge

    Well, if we read our bible more often, we would already know this fact:
    Matthew 24:11-13 says, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

    Goes to show how the Bible always gets it right...especially when it comes to prophecy.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • InFormed99

      That's not any sort of prophecy. That's like saying 'if the sun comes up tomorrow, it will be sunny'. Come on.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Read another 11 verses on, and you will find Jesus's "prophecy" that he would return during the lifetime of the disciples in his audience.

      Indeed, if you're all that fond of prophecy, you need not get out of the very 1st chapter of the very 1st book of the New Testament to find a sterling example of one: Matthew 1:23 and 25.

      "23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name IMMANU-EL, which being interpreted is, God with us. ...
      "25 and ... she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS."

      September 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • NOo..oON

      And... my momma said there'll be days like this...

      September 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  7. David Johnson

    Mark 16:16-18 King James Version (KJV)

    16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

    18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

    Hmm... How many of you believers can actually do these things? None? Yep. LOL

    I think this is just another "join our religion, 'cause we can do really neat things" propaganda. Much like the 'ol "ask for anything" propaganda.

    With all the things that are obviously not true, silly, dumb, no bases in reality, in the Christian bible, why would you possibly think that the afterlife spiel has any validity?


    September 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  8. JC

    Economy in the crapper... people can't afford to throw money away as 'donations' to the church. If you can't pay, you can't pray. The church has no use for you.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  9. ChaChaCha

    Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Please send pictures.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Everyone goes to someone else's he ll

      September 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  10. InFormed99

    Religion will eventually fade as knowledge grows. It serves today as a crutch to help those who do not have all the answers, but need to fill the void with something (even if it is illogical and imaginary). As small children, we all make up stories to explain things. When we grow up, most of us realize that we just didn't like the unknown.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  11. SamIam

    Science cant even explain why if you observe a photon it is a real particle but if you don't it is the possibility of a particle. Nor will they because until science includes in the explanation our true nature. Interesting that the act of observation makes something real Hummmmm. But you "logic thinkers" go on and deny the truth, deny that there are truths that we can't comprehend that we are bigger than just some happenstance some meaningless existence, that we are divine and that we were created in the most true sense of the word by our Heavenly Father.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      In other words: "oooh, I read an article, or part of one, that said things that I dont get, but that science can't fully explain things that the author of the article didn't understand, or try to understand, and now i'm going to try to reitorate what that guy said, so that I can sound liek I have a good reason to beleive in a fairy tale."

      Is that about what you are trying to say, Samlam?

      September 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I know a good bit about physics and I have no idea what you're talking about with your comment about the photon. I would have to assume you mean that a photon sometimes acts as a particle and sometimes as a wave. If that's the case, I say we understand it pretty well. Unless you have studied quantum physics and understand quantum machanics then I can see why you would say scientists don't understand it simply because you don't understand it.

      Read a book about it sometime and you might understand why there is no need for a god in our universe. It works, and has worked, just fine without one.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I think you've got this exactly backwards, SamIAm. Folx who are fond of science are perfectly willing to admit that there's lots of stuff we don't know, starting with the simple but profound question "Why is there something rather than nothing?". It's you theists who are so insecure that you insist on having an answer for all of life's mysteries, and are willing to settle for the 1st fairy tale that comes down the pike as long as its shills and charlatans can claim with sufficient assurance that they KNOW they're right, cash and checks accepted, no small denominations, please.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • SamIam

      @I'm The Best!– Explain it then, Why does the act of observing a photon render that photon retroactively from particle from a wave? You can't. It is ...hold the phone everybody, illogical. Truth trumps logic every time. Stop pretending that you know everything there is to know, humble yourself let the truth in.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Samlam, I see things from your point of view now, thank you! I see that there are things that I am too uneducated to understand, so I must therefore accept that Fairy Tails are real! Thank you! By lowering my IQ, I can go to heaven! YAY!

      September 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Samlam
      Engergy can only be delivered in packets called 'Quanta'. These packets are the photon particles that are seen. But the energy is delivered in the form of a wave. It's the basis for all chemistry. These quanta's are delivered to electrons that surround an atom and depending on the energy of that electron depends on the shell it's on within the atom. So it never changes from a particle to a wave or vice versa, it was never a particle to begin with. It was always just a wave of energy but this wave of energy can only be absorbed in one location because of this law of quanta. If this wasn't true, modern chemistry would not exist.

      What is viewed at the subatomic level is completely different than what we see at our level. Classical machanics doesn't apply to such small particles which is why Quatum machanics is used.

      Now I have a question for you. Why are you posting about things you don't understand? And just because you may have heard someone else explain it and it didn't make sense to you doesn't mean it's illogical.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Samlam cont.
      And if you can't answer my question or it's just "I don't know" that's fine too. Because I already know why you're doing it. It's because you're trying to defend an idea that you've held since you were a child and the only way you know how to do that is to bring up something you hope no one else will understand making you seem more intelligent and making people sway to your way of thinking.

      The point is you don't actually make these decisions. There has been a lot of study done on whether or not humans have free will and the more studying that's done says that we do not. So it's okay, I know you're just acting on impulse to defend you're way of thinking. Even if you don't truely understand it yourself.

      I may not know everything, but I know enough to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that god doesn't need to exist for me to exist. God may exist and he may not, but I know he doesn't have to. And so which is more logical? The universe is a closed system that works on it's own, or there is an outside influence that came from nowhere and is playing with physics without anyone noticing when physical laws are broken?

      September 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      The absence of evidence is not evidence for its absence... duh. A few hundred years ago you would be saying the same thing about the earth being flat and at the center of the universe.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Unbeliever

      I love how the religious think they are poking holes in science when they bring up something science hasn't yet explained. That's not the case this time, but in general their point is, "See! Science can't explain that. Therefore God is the answer." That's what is so dangerous about them. They want to keep people ignorant. What they never seem to get is that science is constantly working on explanations for things. Religion is content to just let their mythical friend be the only explanation they need. By the way, SamIam was hopefully silenced by I'm the Best. Nice job.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Unbeliever
      I agree with what you said about believers trying to poke holes in science just so they can say it's obviously god. And I always hate it when they do that so I try and show them that we do understand most of this stuff.

      Also, I do think I frightened him away. Which is too bad, I really wanted to see his response to what I said....

      September 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  12. fellowtraveler

    Atheists are as ignorant, illogical, naive and immature as the extremist religious folk who think every word in the bible came directly from God. Many people get caufgt up in 'religion" along with the evils that supposed religious people commit, that they don't even seem to recognize the proper questions to ask. Let me try to explain why atheism is irrational, illogical and a pointless, naive belief. 1st) All of our physical bodies will breakdown and die one day. This is true regardless if you're an atheist or a believer in some afterlife. 2nd) All physical matter breaks down or changes, though is never fully destroyed. This planet will be consumed and utterly destroyed at some point in the next 5 billion years, if not by our actions then at least when our sun uses up all its fuel and expands to engulf the Earth. Even beyond that, science shows that every star in the universe will eventually die out completely. 3rd) So since all physical matter is temporary, atheism's call for faith in science, treating people well because it's just the thing to do, using science to better ourselves, protecting the environment, etc. are all vain, pointless and irrational endeavors. If there is nothing that survives the physical death of our bodies, then NOTHING matters, since ALL physical arrangements of matter are temporary. Now it may be true that nothing survives our bodies death. I don't know because i've never been dead as far as I remember. But that's just the point, atheism asserts unequivocally that nothing will survive our bodies death. How anyone can make such a definitive assertion, when the reality is no one really knows, is as irrational and illogical as those who assert their particular religious belief as absolute truth. Therefore, without absolute knowledge as to the actual reality of life, the universe, and everything(Hitchhiker ref.), the only logical course is to at least HOPE that something of who we are will survive the physical death of our bodies and perhaps even live our lives according to that hope since the alternative is pointless oblivion. Just saying.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Arthur Dent

      Very nicely put..not much to add to that!

      September 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      whats the matter? you thinking if you repost this then it might actually be valid compared to when you posted it earlier?

      Again I will say that if your argument is that 'faith' in science and doing the right thing is pointless because everything will end in 5 billion years then you have a nerve calling atheists 'illogical and irritational'

      September 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • The Straight Skinny

      Religion itself is not the problem. Organized religion is.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Atheism asserts absolutely nothing. Atheism is merely the act of not falling for a particular line of B. S.

      Whether anything interesting happens after death is not a topic for atheists any more than any other topic. If some sort of existence occurs after death then it will certainly be interesting to experience it. However, there is no reason to believe that there is any sort of "afterlife" anymore than there is to believe in a "before life". Some religions believe in that also.(Reincarnation, etc.)..

      To paraphrase – We are all atheists, some of us just believe in fewer god's than the rest.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      By the way, your entire argument is so completely full of false assumptions and various fallacies that there is no way to even begin to address them with less than a very long essay. It goes right over the line into pure hogwash.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • MaybeAgnosticMaybeNot

      I would rather get up and go to work in the morning than HOPE I win the loterry tomorrow. Don't mistake that hope for fear of death. I have heard so many belivers say they "have" to belive in something. Basically most people can't mentally handle the possibility of there being no afterlife. I'm not claiming I know there is no afterlife. You are right that no one can know. But I'm not going to change the way I live because of something that cannot be proven. (Yes I know it can't be disproven).

      September 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Yep Hope = fear of death. And since we don't know everything as you say.. It is more probable that one day we may invent ways to leave this universe to others (if there is something more) and be gods ourselves then hopr that we have ghosts. Immortality of consciousness through technology is far more probable than ghosts and magic fairies. Sadly you and I were born in an era of technology where we will end up just rotting in the ground.... get used to it, sorry.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Normon

      "...the only logical course is to at least HOPE that something of who we are will survive the physical death of our bodies..."
      How can logic dictate living one's life based on the hope that something without any evidence is true?
      What I think is the primary error in this thought process is that only eternity provides any meaning. I would propose that that is not true.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  13. OhYeah

    If we are really a Christian nation and there is no pain in heaven, the streets are paved in gold and God is waiting for his flock to come home, why does everyone keep going to the doctor's to keep on living?

    September 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      It is your duty to experience as much pain as possible for your god's personal pleasure. The more time you have the more likely you are to mess up and get sent to his personal torture chamber for eternity. Its all rather disgusting really.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Better yet, why do christians cry ad funerals

      September 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  14. RichardSRussell

    Well, it's true that Blaise Pascal DID make many valuable contributions to the field of mathematics, but that was more because he was an inveterate gambler than because he had any great insights into either nature nature or human nature. His gambling led him to investigate the odds of winning any given proposition, and this led to a deep understanding of probability still used today. His famous hypothetical wager on the afterlife is riddled with logical flaws, however, way more than will fit in these brief comments, but they're dissected on many websites which you can find with a simple Google search.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Sounds exactly like the sort of rascal that would "believe" in god just in case!

      September 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  15. Wonderment

    As I read through the comments, one thing stands out to me...those who profess not to believe in any religion seem to have the most angst and anger in their lives, while those who profess religion seem to be a much calmer breed. This made me wonder, if there were suddenly no religion in the world, would anyone be helping the poor or feeding the hungry? Almost all organizations that are committed to this were at least started by people of religion. I hardly ever see a CEO of a major company starting non-profit organizations dedicated to the starving people of Samolia or Kenya. If you accuse the religious of not feeding the poor, one would ask "what are you doiing to feed them?" Just an observation from the seat of the spectators.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Your atti tude can be explained by a simple Google search on the phrase "confirmation bias".

      September 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      I agree with the Atheist evaluation, however most of the non-profits are started, run by and funded by ex-CEOs and executive management of countries all over the world.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I see the comments the other way around, but I'm a little biased in the atheist direction so I willing to bet that there are just as many being mean on both sides.

      As for the charities, if you look at the percentage of charities started by someone religious and the number started by someone non-religious they would probably pretty closely match up to the percentage of religious to non-religious people in the US. I don't know this for sure but it's just a guess. But don't act like atheists don't give anything, because we also volunteer for charities without caring who started them as long as they're helping people.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Wonderment You are hallucinating anger and even when it is real, it is directed at certain people with benighted beliefs who presume to enshrine those beliefs into law, not at people who are starving. Your post is ignorant and ridiculous.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Normon

      Guess you never heard of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Both CEOs or their respective companies and both Billion dollar donators to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Oh, and they're both Agnostic if I remember correctly.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Kate

      Have you never hear of Bill Gates? There are lots of rich people who donate charitably. Much of what religious charities get is from non believers. Did you really think you had to be religious to care about other people? It looks to me to be the exact other way around. The religious want their pound of flesh before they will help – they always want you to convert to their way of thinking, no matter how hideous. They love catastrophes because it enlarges their roles.

      If you want to really help anonymously, then drop the religious connection if you are going to run charities – just do your charitable work and go on. Otherwise, you just look self serving trying to pony up points for your payoff in the afterlife. You know, it's always kind of disgusting to see.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  16. Kathy

    Why do some of you find it impossible to disagree without getting so ugly about it? I don't pretend to understand atheists or the fanatics of any religion, but I feel they have a right to believe what they want. Yes, they can be intolerant, but, unfortunately, that can occur in all situations. Mocking others' belief or non-belief in God is off-putting and will not win many converts. I know what I believe. I am content to allow others the same courtesy that I expect.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • You People

      those who support an intellectually vulnerable position often resort to defending it with ad hominem attacks

      September 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I have absolutely no problem with anybody's religion that does not interfere with my life or the lives' of those I care about. I happen to care about the civil rights of my fellow citizens and will defend their rights from those that would use supersti.tion and prejudice to cause them harm.

      When I am judged by someone based upon their beliefs, they have opened themselves up to judgement as well. If you happen to agree with that person, you could experience the equivalent of "collateral damage". Nothing personal, if someone uses a belief you happen to share as a basis of judgement then expect to see that belief questioned, perhaps even ridiculed.

      Judge not, lest ye be judged. Its that simple.

      And there are also always going to be provocateurs on both sides of the argument. Just like all "Christians" or Muslims are not the same, the same is true of atheists. Maybe even more so since atheism is merely a single fact in a persons life.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  17. Greg

    The fact is that the (Christian) God is dead. In other words, Christianity lost all of its viability. The last sermon that attracted my attention was about how to make money and still remain Christian.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  18. openminded19

    And it's a bad thing that congregations are declining? It just shows that more and more people aren't drinking the kool aid.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Kelly

      definitely a good thing.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Just different kool aid. A Liberal/Marxist education system is starting to show its effect.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Pretty sure Jesus was a liberal marxists

      September 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  19. mj mn

    someone earlier mentioned the prophesies fulfilled by Jesus...
    Regarding the vir gin birth prophesy in Matthew:
    Matthew quoted a text from Isaiah to prove the vir gin birth tradition.
    That Hebrew text was in Greek, where the connotation of ‘vir gin’ is present in the Greek word parthenos.
    However, if he had gone to the original Hebrew, he would have discovered that the connotation of vir ginity was not present in the original text of Isaiah (7:14).
    The Hebrew word for ‘vir gin’ was betulah.
    The word used in Isaiah (7:14) is ‘almah, which means young woman.
    'almah does not mean vir gin in any Hebrew text in the entire bible in which it is used.

    I have these bible study texts in my home library…and easy for anyone to look up.

    This means the vir gin birth of Jesus cannot be used as a messianic prophesy.

    I suspect the reason that this is not common knowledge is that it would be a kind of financial hit for pastors that make a living on this belief system.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      The concept of the virgin birth was added to Christianity to make it more palpable to the former followers of the Cult of Isis. Christianity has been very good at absorbing the beliefs of local religions in order to absorb those followers. It has very few tenants of its own making.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Indeed, there's hardly anything at all original about Christianity (either its tenets or its practices), but ya gotta have a kind of perverse admiration for its adaptability and willingness to swipe popular ideas where it finds them. It's kind of like the English language in that regard, which is so successful not only because of its armies but also because of its inclusivity. It'll gladly steal words and phrases from any language that can fill a niche. Just as English has co-opted "tsunami", "pizza", and "coup d'etat" from other languages, so has Christianity adapted dualism from the Manicheans, Mariolatry from the virgin of Guadalupe, and 95% of the trappings of Xmas from northern European pagans.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  20. the TRUTH - Atheist - Theist

    the TRUTH – Atheist – Theist
    By 2100 – when all of us in this forum die – we will know if God exists or not so take your side. – Pascal Wager – no more argument.

    If you are as smart as Pascal and you have published a book on atheist let me know – I will read it.

    But I think Pascal is much much smarter than you. He developed digital calculator when he was 18 years old, father of probability. You know probability right?

    In the next 100 years – Blaise Pascal will be remembered including his wager, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchen and you will not be remembered at all (his atheist is base on 1960 books – I don't who the atheist in 1960 but I do know Pascal) . and I don't think you have achieve anything in this life yet. am i right or wrong?

    So if you are as smart as Pascal, please let me know. I will read your book on atheist subject – hopefully better than Christopher Hitchens books.

    O by the way, there is a chance you will die today when you drive in your car – according to Pascal probability – and you might know God exists or just a fairy tale.


    September 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Are you trying to imitate the bible by being repeti.tive, redundant and logically flawed, or what?

      September 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • JohnR

      Pascal's wager is utterly fallacious, as has been discussed here many times.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • duh

      Thanks for proving your really dumb since you keep posting the same thing over and over again because you can't think of anything else to say. Your ego is pathetic too. Typical christian who thinks they're right without any proof. LOL!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • FifthApe

      Pascal's wager: So your god would prefer someone 'just covering their bets' as opposed to a person who needs evidence of its existence. If you think this wager makes pascal smart, then you are very, very dumb.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • the TRUTH - Atheist - Theist

      So give me link to your book, because from your comment it seems that you're as smart as Pascal. Or any proof that you are as smart as Pascal and your name will be remembered for the next 100 years. Who know you can help me to become one of the smart atheist.

      I'm not as smart as pascal but I have MBA and employed...so my name will not be remembered for the next 100 years, but at least I have comfortable live for the next 100 years.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • FifthApe

      MBA = Unemployed. Never met one who knew their ___ from a hole in the ground. I'm a Electrical Engineer. And if you think Pascal's wager holds any water YOU ARE DUMB.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @the TRUTH – Atheist – Theist

      You said: "By 2100 – when all of us in this forum die – we will know if God exists or not so take your side. – Pascal Wager – no more argument."

      If there is an afterlife, we will know. If as atheists believe, there is no afterlife, then we won't know... anything.

      There is no evidence for a soul. No evidence for an afterlife. All that we are, appears to be contained in our brain. Our brains rot and we are no more.

      Because a person is a genius on one subject, does not make him a genius on every.

      Pascal's Wager assumes there is a one true god and you have chosen to worship this god. But, there is no evidence that this is true. No evidence that there is a way to know if you have chosen correctly.

      If you argue the universe must have a first cause, which god was the first cause? If you argue the universe is too complex and must have a designer, which god designed it?
      See the problem? Even if you argue there is a need for a supreme being, It doesn't mean that it is the god you have chosen.

      There are about 14 major religions in the world. Just for grins, let's say that one of these 14, is worshiping the one true god. And let's assume each one of the 14 religions has a good place (Heaven?) and bad place (Hell?).

      You have a 1 in 14 (7%) chance of choosing the correct god and going to the good place. There is a 93% chance you will choose incorrectly and will suffer in a bad place.

      There is always risk, to any choice.

      If atheists are right, and this is the only life anyone will ever have, then it is all the more precious. By believing in an afterlife, you cheapen the one you are living. It makes suffering and injustice matter less. God will "fix it" in the next life. It is "Pie In The Sky".

      If this life is the only one we will get, then why waste it worshiping a myth? Would you spend time, on your knees to Zeus or Isis? They are as real as any of the modern gods.

      Pascal was smart. But, many other smart humans have examined this wager and found it wanting.

      You brother in Christ

      September 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • FifthApe

      For an MBA you write like sh_t. Not even at a grade school level.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Arthur Dent

      Pascal was not an Atheist, nor was he any other religion, he was a philosopher who in a nut shell said "No matter if god(s) exists or not, one should live his/her life with as if there was a god(s) (aka, good, honest, moral...)"

      September 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      And a all knowing being will not know you are just hedging your bets.. idiot

      September 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • JohnR

      Pascal's wager says bet on god, but which god? Even if there is a god, if you bet on the Christian god and Islam proves to be correct, you lose! Ditto ALL the other jealous, angry gods who demanded fealty that have ever worshipped as the one true god.

      Pascal's wager assumes that there is a god who cares what you believe. There may be a god who doesn't give a Pug's patootie what you BELIEVE, but cares very much what you do. Or perhaps god simply doesn't track what anyone does or believes.

      But even if specifically the Christian god is the one true god and does indeed specifically demand faith and nothing but faith, does "placing a wager" on god count as faith?

      There is no evidence that you have improved your odds of "winning" something that you wouldn't win anyway by placing Pascal's wager on the Christian god (and never mind that many believers in the Christian god believe that other believers in the Christian god are going to hell).

      September 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • FifthApe

      Arthur: You can be good, honest and moral with out the need of a god. As long as we are arguing from authority hows Albert:

      "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. "

      September 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Pascal certainly was not an atheist. He was, however, a Jansenist, a subset of Catholicism that once rivaled the Jesuits for intellectual study of religion. He came to Jansenism late in his all-too-brief life, and it was during this period that he came up with his famous wager on the afterlife.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:08 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.