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October 25th, 2011
10:10 PM ET

Survey: U.S. Catholics going to church less frequently

By Dan Merica, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new survey paints a picture of a less-strict American Catholic community, with 86% of respondents stating they believe a Catholic "can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church."

Among the most devout, older Catholics, Mass attendance has fallen from 64% in 1999 to just over 50% in 2011, according to a new survey of American Catholics.

And as those older Catholics die, they are replaced by a millennial generation that questions some of the church's social beliefs and attend church less often than older worshipers.

"Catholics in the past 25 years have become more autonomous when making decisions about important moral issues; less reliant on official teaching in reaching those decisions; and less deferential to the authority of the Vatican and individual bishops," stated the report's introduction.

"Catholics in America: Persistence and change in the Catholic landscape," was published Monday by the National Catholic Reporter and is the fifth installment in a survey that has been conducted every six years.

Even as attendance is down, the survey discovered that "foundational theological beliefs and the sacraments are at the heart of what American Catholics see as core to their Catholic identity."

For example, 73% and 64% of respondents respectively said it was very important that Catholics believe in "Jesus' resurrection from the dead" and that Mary was the mother of God.

According to Professor William D'Antonio of Catholic University, the man who led the study, these numbers have remained consistent.

At the same time, 66% of American Catholics said the Vatican's teaching authority is either somewhat or not important, a number D'Antonio said is higher than in the past.

The results of the survey were published on the National Catholic Reporter website in 13 essays ranging from, "Different generations in the church," to "The struggles of young Hispanic Catholics." USA Today was the first to report on this survey.

D'Antonio said the numbers point to a growing number of what he called "cafeteria Catholics" - churchgoers who tend to only follow aspects of the Catholic church with which they agree, but he disagreed that the numbers show the Catholic Church changing from religion to culture in America.

"Everyone is a cafeteria Catholic - so what," said D'Antonio. "I would consider a cultural Catholic as someone who never goes to Mass, but they still identity with the religion. That isn't the majority."

Around 50% of the 1,442 Catholics surveyed went to church at least once a month. D'Antonio, who is also a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Catholic University, said this is the church's new norm.

One reason for this dip in attendance may be a diversion in social beliefs, said the study. Even though the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have made it a point to be clear on the church's opposition to abortion, less than half ofthe Catholics surveyed - 40% - said the church's opinion was very important.

Those numbers go down on the issue of same-sex marriage, where 35% said the church's opinion was very important, to 29% on the death penalty issue.

"What more and more Catholics are saying is that my lived experiences are different than what the church is saying," said D'Antonio.

A major factor in this shift is the growing youth and diversity in the Catholic church, said the survey. Today, 45% of millennial Catholics are Hispanic.

"Many Catholic Hispanic millennials and their friends and relatives are poor," said the study. "Poverty is not an abstract concept - it is a fact of their lives and it is reflected in the way Hispanics conceive of themselves as Catholics, in what they expect of the church in its ministry and use of its influence for public policy."

Though young Hispanic Catholics are more observant in terms of marriage and abortion when compared to their non-Hispanic counterparts, they put more of an emphasis - 70% - on helping the poor than the 56% of non-Hispanic worshipers who think helping the poor is important.

But even then, "on matters like going to Mass every Sunday or using contraceptive birth control methods, large majorities of both groups see these moral issues as personal matters subject to their right to freedom of conscience," said the study.

A unique challenge comes with this growing diversity, said D'Antonio. He worries that the church is not ready to address the different needs that Hispanics bring to the pews.

"What concerns me is that the church structure is much weaker than when I was young," D'Antonio said. "We do not have a parish structure that is able bring these people fully into the church. It is a different church from the 1930s to 60s."

The survey was conducted online from April 25 to May 2 in both English and Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Church

soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. derp

    Maybe more people would go to catholic churches if they stopped sanctioning child r ape.

    October 27, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  2. HypocrAtheist

    The problem mostly of the catholic believer is they are so ignorant of the law of GOD.Check the 10 commamndmenst yopu MORONS!

    October 27, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • brad

      Had it not been for the Jews or the Catholic Church you would never have heard of the Ten Commandments. You don't state whether you're an atheist or Protestant, but keep the following in mind: After Martin Luther and Calvin eliminated the moral authority of the Catholic church, it was a series of short steps from Protestantism, to Rationalism, to Secularism, to general social decay.

      October 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • J.W

      brad I think that the Catholic church had authority. I am not sure if moral is the right word for it though.

      October 28, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  3. AGuest9

    If we could just get rid of the evangelical christians who now prevent our children from trick or treating on halloween.

    October 27, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  4. Realist

    Did your god ever tell you how he never needed to be created? Why not? So foolish people choose to go with magic, a god that always was. That is even sillier.

    October 27, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  5. Toby

    Bad news, please prove to me that the Bible says that a day to God is a thousand to humans. The future of this discussion hangs in the balance. Since I know with certainty that it makes no such statement, the your validity as an opponent in this debate has run dry.

    October 27, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  6. Reality

    The global situation:

    o http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
    Religion Adherents

    Christianity 2.1 billion
    Islam 1.5 billion
    Irreligious/agnostic/atheism 1.1 billion
    Hinduism 900 million
    Chinese traditional religion 394 million
    Buddhism 376 million
    Animist religions 300 million
    African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
    Sikhism 23 million
    Juche 19 million
    Spiritism 15 million
    Judaism 14 million
    Baha'i 7 million
    Jainism 4.2 million
    Shinto 4 million
    Cao Dai 4 million
    Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
    Tenrikyo 2 million
    Neo-Paganism 1 million
    Unitarian Universalism 800,000
    Rastafari Movement 600,000

    And the number of atheists and agnostics will continue to grow:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    October 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  7. AGuest9

    Yes, the Archdiocese of Washington is even running radio ads reminding people of their November 1st "obligation". I guess even they are getting into the "banish Halloween" propaganda that the fundamentalist churches have been observing for the past 10 or 15 years?

    October 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  8. Ed

    I suspect the lack of attendance is caused more by lazinessthen lack of faith

    October 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Realist

      Likely the fact that most see the church as the cult it really is. As these parents continue to bring the children to sit, kneel and stand on command.. the children will likely find it difficult to break away.. Pure brainwashing with instilled fear.

      How unfair to their children abusive at best.

      October 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Ed

      you really need to not make sweeping as-sumptions about people you don't know. Most people I know that are Catholic from birth to not feel the were forced to believe. Some have left the church others have not it is as it should be their choice.

      October 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Realist

      As a victim of childhood sod–omy by one who is is a bishop today, your church lies.

      Not to forget the pope and the vatican who orchestrated the cover ups, denying children needed help. How low and disgusting.

      And today, all we want is the truth exposed in courts. The truth is the greatest healer. Denied again as the bishops lobby to stop laws that would help victims and their families.

      Please tell me know, how does the catholic church set the example on helping children victims? many committed suicide and others mentally ill die to the abuses.

      October 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • AGuest9

      A recent Gallup Poll showed that the number of Americans with no religious affiliation has jumped from 9 percent to 16 percent over the last decade. Maybe there is hope!

      October 27, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  9. gerald

    Luke.18

    Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

    October 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • god

      Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

      That about covers everyone,,,, 🙂

      October 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Realist

      Such silliness.

      October 26, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      No. Because jesus isn't coming back. The bible quotes jesus on numerous occasions about this.

      http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/2000years.html

      October 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Koala of Bad News

      Your opinion means little on whether Jesus comes back or not.

      October 26, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      It's not an opinion. It's what the bible states. I'd say "nice try," but it really wasn't.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  10. snow

    Finally.. The slow process of enlightenment begins.. Thank you Go- Um.. oops..

    October 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  11. tensor

    The puzzlement is how anyone with two brain cells to rub together ever bought into that theo-political Vatican nonsense. The upside is that more people will practice birth control. Planet Earth has been in recovery mode ever since religion was invented.

    October 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • gerald

      Yes certainly Catholics are stupid and atheists are the enlightened ones.

      October 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • gerald

      by the way what is really funny is how someone who claims to have more than two brain cells would use a "word" like puzzelment. LMAO.

      October 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Realist

      Gerald.. you are close to being right. The more intelligent one is, the less likely they will believe in the delusion.

      October 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • HellBent

      @gerald:
      puz·zle·ment   [puhz-uhl-muhnt] Show IPA
      noun
      1.
      the state of being puzzled; perplexity.
      2.
      something puzzling.

      "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
      -Abraham Lincoln

      October 27, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  12. Reality

    One more time:

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection/Easter Con:

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    p.4

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    October 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Guest

      More of your stupid cut and paste, cut and paste, cut and paste. Dont' you get tired of your own stupidity? The rest of us do.

      October 27, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  13. True Story

    The "fire and brimstone" approach is definitely a lot more likely to throw off younger individuals. Just saying.

    October 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  14. evangelist

    The half a million is the net gain. And for the record, The Catholic Church actually has the lowest percentage of people who grow up in a church and leave it. That percentage is 32%. The next lowest is the Baptist Church at 39%. The highest is the Jehovah's Witnesses at 66%. With nearly seventy million adherents to Catholicism in the U.S., of course there are more ex-Catholics. Even though a much higher percentage of Episcopalians leave their church, you won't find many ex-Episcopalians with only two million in the entire country.

    October 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Cite your sources. The Episcopal church is comprised by about 60-70% of EX-Catholics and Ex-Lutherans.

      October 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • HellBent

      Still waiting for you to tell where you get your numbers from. From the Pew Research Foundation:

      -While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes.


      Groups that have experienced a net loss from changes in affiliation include Baptists (net loss of
      3.7 percentage points) and Methodists (2.1 percentage points). However, the group that has
      experienced the greatest net loss by far is the Catholic Church

      The detailed report is here: http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-chapter-2.pdf

      October 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • brad

      I know some Catholics who left the church, but many more who entered. And Catholicism has the hard teachings! Some people, be they individuals or Protestant sects, simply say "These are hard words! Who can hear them?" and then split like the folks in John 6.

      October 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • HellBent

      @brad, personal anecdotes are great, but your's doesn't match the trends in the US.

      October 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      I don't personally know anyone who has ever become a catholic voluntarily.

      October 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Koala of Bad News

      Your life experiences must be very very limited. Not to mention you put too much faith in your life experiences.

      October 26, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      I've lived all over the United States, as well as overseas. By all means, post more factless opinions.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • HellBent

      I know lots of people who converted. I know of no one who didn't convert because the married into Catholicism.

      October 27, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  15. evangelist

    In response to those who say that the Catholic Church is not the fastest growing church, because of a slightly higher percentage of growth among Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, technically speaking, you are correct. However, in terms of sheer numbers of individuals, no church even comes close to the actual number of people added to the ranks of a church annually.

    October 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • HellBent

      Just as no church comes close in terms of numbers to those leaving the Catholic church.

      October 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • brad

      I'm reminded of a historical fact. During the Protestant Reformation, huge numbers of people abandoned the Catholic church. Some had honorable intentions. Example: whereas the Scriptures had previously been in Latin, now the masses who couldn't read or write could have the Bible mis-interpreted to them in their own language. Others, however, saw an opportunity to get out from under Papal taxes or just have religion "my way". What's seldom mentioned is that during the Reformation, Spain, the Catholic stronghold, had put an end to Aztec human sacrifice in the New World, and produced about 9 million Catholic Christians in less than twenty years. (Our Lady of Guadalupe played no small part.) Not at sword-point, but by offering the Aztecs something new to uplift them after the collapse of their civilization.

      October 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • hippypoet

      "Spain, the Catholic stronghold, had put an end to Aztec human sacrifice in the New World, and produced about 9 million Catholic Christians in less than twenty years. (Our Lady of Guadalupe played no small part.) Not at sword-point, but by offering the Aztecs something new to uplift them after the collapse of their civilization."

      thats some good stuff you got there... maybe the fact that when the spanish got to the new world they infected all the folks with something called the flu, common cold! So the collasp of the civilization was due to spanish hands... and when the converted it was out of fear and ignorance... afterall they are dieing while the spanish are not – anti-bodies in the blood stream that allow them to die while us of european decent live. To finish off here – the spanish also killed half of them in a war anyway – in order for there people to have just a hope of survival they had to convert! The sword was used to make them want to convert!!!

      October 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • brad

      @ hippypoet

      In 1918 the Spanish Influenza wiped out about 40,000,000 around the world. No one as yet has tied this fact to the Catholic church. Your comment about Spain and disease is relevant in what way? On a related note: neighboring tribes hated the Aztecs and allied themselves with Spain. But keep reading, hippypoet. Facts, not attidudes, are what you need.

      October 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • hippypoet

      dude who the hell is talking about 1900's.... i thought we were discussing the aztecs. your a moron! oh and those nieghboring tribes also died... the total loss was near 90% of the population in the area not just one culture! stupid people with money should first learn things before getting a computer!

      October 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      Hippy, calm down for christ's sake. There's no need for name calling. Stop being so aggressive with people every time you don't get your way.

      October 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  16. WOT

    Religion is not the drug(white lady) of the masses any more! Other things have taken it's(religion) place such as ipods,TV, sports,cell phones,clubs, s ex of all kind, HATERS of themselves and the world and the list goes on, on, on.

    October 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. BS

    'For example, 73% ... of respondents ... said it was very important that Catholics believe in "Jesus' resurrection from the dead" ....'

    Stat's like this blow me away. The whole point of Christianity is centered around the belief in Jesus' resurrection. If you don't believe it, doesn't that make you Jewish rather than Catholic?

    October 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It could mean that you read Mark instead of Matthew, Luke, or John. That is why Mark formed his own christian church, the coptic orthodox church, in Egypt.

      October 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  18. derp

    Is anyone surprised by declining attendance to an organization led by a nazi in a pointy hat and a dress.

    October 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  19. boocat

    Calling all Jesus freaks. Google the Egyptian god "Horus" and then get back to us.

    October 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • J.W

      Wow you are really obsessed with Horus. You must worship him or something.

      October 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • ajk68

      Horus has almost nothing to do with Jesus. One has to seriously stretch the Horus myth to assert a comparison. There is also historical evidence for the existence of Jesus. The idea of Horus as being the basis for Jesus is just the rantings of atheist ideologues.

      October 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The paralells with Dionysus are greater than those with Horus.
      Divine paternal heritage, mortal mother.
      Transubstantiation rites.
      Turning water to wine.
      Death and resurrection.
      Freely allowing His own persecution.
      Wandering the land with his disciples.
      The list goes on...

      October 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • HellBent

      " There is also historical evidence for the existence of Jesus. The idea of Horus as being the basis for Jesus is just the rantings of atheist ideologues."

      The idea that there was a jewish Rabbi named jesus is somewhat supported by historical artifacts. The fact that he was god and did a bunch of supernatural things isn't. Given the fact that the gospels were written decades after the events that they details happened, that the authors are generally considered to be unknown and given that their are numerous contradi.ctions throughout the gospels it is quite reasonable to think that the supernatural events described therein were borrowed for other mythologies.

      October 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • btinc

      Sorry ajk, there simply is no historical evidence proving the existence of Jesus, only anecdotal evidence, most of it written centuries after his supposed death and resurrection.

      October 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @btinc – you are wrong – and i am sick of having this exact conversation over and over again – do some damn research! check out pilate, josephus, historians from rome at the time, most have maybe only a sentence but most have words to say about the so called messiah! check it out!!! the only proper argument is that of his divinity as josephus himself stated!

      October 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • AGuest9

      hippy, other than the "Pilate stone", discovered in 1961, in the Caesarea Maritima, there is nothing connecting Pilate with any of the writings in the gospels. I can write a period novel about a professor of Isaac Newton's that taught him special relativity, partial differential equations and quantum mechanics at Trinity College, followed him to Woolsthorpe during the plague, and dealt with his associated cast of characters, Leibniz, Barrow, Hooke, Halley, and other members of the Royal Society. That doesn't make either a non-fictional work.

      October 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  20. Jim

    @hippypoet
    A lot there and I only have a few minutes before I have to get out, so grant me the leeway to choose what I answer. I'll start with a statement you made toward the end- worshiping God leaves too many questions. Questions are the basis of the scientific method. It is also the basis of faith. The Bible doesn't prohibiting putting faith to the test. In fact, when the Jews of the OT were starting to forget the great things God had done, he told them to test him in his promises (now, this isn't in contradiction of what Jesus said about not testing, because, placing on God the responsibility to reverse our own decision making has nothing to do with testing his promises). Now, in science and in faith, which are not exclusive of one another, when a question is asked, the questioner must be open minded.
    You are entirely incorrect in correcting people on the use of the name Jesus. Jesus is derivative of Greek Iesous which has morphed into Jesus through cognate translations. Iesous is the Greek of Yashua. Yashua through cognate translation has become Joshua in English. So, to call Jesus Jesus, or Joshua, or Yashua, or Iesous, or Josue, or Josua, it doesn't matter, they are all the same. You refer to Christ as the supposed Jesus. There is more than enough historical proof of that Jesus lived to make that concession.

    October 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • boocat

      Google the Egyptian god "Horus"...who allegedly was around about 3000 B.C...

      October 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • hippypoet

      you are wrong with the name of jesus... jesus is from 6th century latin, the real name was as you stated yashua, which is said the same way as todays joshua hence my using that instead of yashua...its more easily read too. Now i would have preferred you answered a few more, but if times an issue, just remember that time is a creation of man and so you may think you have little time to dilly dally, infact you never had time in the first place. 🙂 later dude... thanks for the convo.

      October 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Toby

      Greek for Jesus is Iesous or ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. Latin for Jesus is Iesus. See the similarity? It follows in transliteration because of them being cognates. Iesus to English is Jesus. That's called a cognate as well. Now, if my name was Joshua, the German counterpart to that name would be Josua. Or Yosua, as we would pronounce it phonetically. Phonetically Yashua and Joshua are not said the same. Joshua is just as much a transliteration of Yashua as Jesus is.

      October 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      There is NO evidence that Yeshua EVER called himself the Christ. Cite ONE piece, (and NOT from the bible).

      October 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Toby

      Look, Bucky Ball, if you can't accept the historicity of the Bible as is widely accepted even outside theological circles, that's your problem. You claim there is no evidence. A lack of evidence is brought on by your own ignorance of the evidence before you. So, whether you accept it or not, does not change the authenticity or authority of a source... thank goodness.

      October 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Answer

      @Jim

      http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/holytestament/jesus.html

      This is just a link I've found from trolling around .. go read up on some other person's findings on the name of Jesus and where it came from. I can summarize it for you here into one little sentence: "all religions are based on the glorious sun."

      Your Jesus Christ and even Allah and all the other, farce, that are called religions, are all a joke. Mankind's obsession with religion first started by trying to impose understanding of our sun. Divine beings came into existence fuelled by our application of our imagination. You f-u-c-k-i-n-g morons still persist to give divinity a right to explain the world. You people are absolutely useless and moronic to argue for their continued existence.

      October 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Toby

      @Answer?
      Clearly you have all of our best interests at heart, and since you put it so intelligently(?) you have clearly earned the label of expert is this particular field. Kudos.

      October 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Answer

      @Toby

      A world of progress is the ultimate interest to society. Not the useless application of fairy tales that hold back our youths in terror and fear. That is a world I would gladly bring about by destroying all religions.

      October 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Toby

      @Answer
      Come on, let's hear your best maniacal laugh. Ever stop to think then realize that progress is subjective. To you progress is the destruction of man's ethical and spiritual foundation, his sense of purpose and belonging. How unfortunate for you that you are at odds with the majority of the human population. To a Christian, progress is getting to know Christ better intellectually and personally so that we can be more like him. I was kinda hoping you'd detect my sarcasm earlier so that you would realize you have little to add to this discussion since it is clearly out of your league. Besides, anyone who has an angelfire website has definitely made their mark in this world and should most definitely be considered reliable... more sarcasm btw.

      October 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • hippypoet

      hey TOBY you will burn in hell for your pride!

      "To a Christian, progress is getting to know Christ better intellectually and personally so that we can be more like him. I was kinda hoping you'd detect my sarcasm earlier so that you would realize you have little to add to this discussion since it is clearly out of your league."

      October 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      "Historicity of the bible" ?/ Hahahahaha. It is NOT an historical docu'ment, it is mythology, (in the best sense). Obviously YOU went to a Bible College. Try Harvard or Yale.

      October 26, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Toby

      All fine rebuttals, folks. hippypoet, from what I've read of your other posts, you seem to be far more intelligent than Bucky, so, kinda surprised at that fail. Bucky, thanks for the laugh but you need more gusto. Both Harvard and Yale were founded by members of the clergy and continue to train ministers to this day. I didn't attend either one, but have colleagues that have received doctorates there. Many parts of the Bible are historically verified through archaeology- which is an accepted science, btw. If you want to argue with that until you are blue in the face, I won't stop you, but I certainly won't indulge you any further.

      October 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      One can argue the historical facts of the bible till they are blue in the face. It doesn't make the religion true. To illustrate, Anne Rice uses New Orleans as a setting for some of her vampire novels. Does this mean that vampires are real because the city of New Orleans exists? No.

      Israel exists, along with many other sites in the middle east. Just because they are in the bible does not make the fables true. We know for a fact that the worldwide flood did not happen. We know for a fact that the universe did not appear, develop and form life in n the span of 6,000 years. We also know for a fact (since jesus is quoted in the bible as saying it) that he will not return, since he stated he would nearly 2,000 years ago.

      While many of the archeological finds show us that places existed in the bible, it's clearly evident that the religious teachings are completely fraudulent.

      October 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Toby

      @Badnewsbear
      I never said, nor does the Bible say that the earth developed in 6,000 years. That is an interpretation of the problem of creation which neither science nor Scripture can completely explain. Take the historicity of not just locations, but people. Both Solomon and David are confirmed through archaeological discoveries outside of Israel – other nations that paid tribute to Solomon. Solomon existed, not because the Kingdom of Israel existed, but because he existed. The historicity of the existence of Christ is irrefutable. Confirming scripture from outside of scripture is difficult because few docu.ments have survived as the Bible has, but it is possible.
      There is no test for religious truths except experience. I can't argue with you on that, but my argument was in regards to the historical reliability of the Bible.

      October 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      Toby, the bible states that god created the Universe in 6 days and then rested on the the day. The bible also clearly states that one day to god is 1,000 years to man. There is no interpretation on this matter. Whether jesus existed or not is completely irrelevant. I've never personally seen the corpse of Socrates, but I don't doubt he existed. The same goes for jesus. I don't care either way. But the bible does quote him claiming divinity. That is where the line gets drawn. David Koresh and Charles Manson both claimed divinity. Manson also claimed he was Satan. Either way, there is a fine list of claimants, and not a single one of them has ever proven the claim.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_messiah_claimants

      It appears that jesus got the idea from someone else. How is it that jesus was different from any of these other people? It REALLY helps that he was born when he was, in a time when it was easy to impress primitive people. It was merely a perfect time to get the ball rolling. If jesus existed today, he'd be getting raided by the ATF.

      October 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      *rested on the 7th day. Therefore, the bible does in fact claim that the entire universe was created in 6,000 years.

      October 26, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Toby

      @Badnews
      Sounds like you're getting your interpretation of time from Harold Camping. You may want to avoid placing any authority on what he says since he has been proven false on numerous occasions. When Peter refers to a day with the Lord as like a thousand it is bringing to our understanding that God is not dependent on time for anything. It doesn't literally mean that when God says "day" he really means 1000 years. Jesus was not in the ground 3000 years, Noah didn't take 36500000 years to build the Ark, etc. God does understand the difference between a day and 1000 years as we measure it.
      Again, the spiritual side of things, I can't argue with you about. You are closed off to it, and that is your prerogative. However, your minimal understanding of scripture leads me to believe that you have placed little effort in figuring these things out for yourself and have, unfortunately, come up in an environment not entirely conducive to religion and perhaps Christianity in particular. Want to become educated- read the scriptures then you will be qualified to test them against their historical context. In the meantime, avoid adding your input. It is subjective and full of errors and it will only further damage your understanding of spiritual things.

      October 26, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      Toby, you are incorrect, yet again. I did not get my understanding from Harold Camping. I spent decades in the church. I am a former christian. I've read the bible cover to cover dozens of times. How is it that I'm "interpreting" anything at all here? The bible states that 1 day to god is a thousand days to humans. There is absolutely no getting around this. You claim "it does not literally mean..." Who is the one interpreting here? It's not me. You're trying to tell me the scripture means something other than what it says. This is exactly why I am closed off to what you have to say. You are a prime example of why thousands of denominational splits have occurred within christianity. You can't sit here and change the meaning of the words and pass them off as a logical explanation.

      You are exactly why I began questioning my faith a long time ago. I didn't realize something was terribly wrong until moving from church to church when I began hearing different interpretations for words in black and white. For that, I thank you and everyone like you. Especially your contrived spite directed at me for introducing practicality into the simplicity of word for word explanations within the scripture that people like you alter the meaning of to suit your best interests.

      Your minimal understanding of what's right in front of you leads me to believe you've only listened to what the man at the pulpit has crammed down your throat as opposed to figuring things out for yourself. Get over the spiritual side of things. Every religion on this planet has believers that have "spiritual" experiences. It's evolutionary and has nothing to do with "god." If you want to be educated, I suggest YOU read a bible. And when you do, try not to assume you've got a superior understanding of each word. I assure you, you certainly do not.

      October 26, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      Oh, and to correct another inaccuracy you claimed... science can explain the formation of the Earth and gives us an understanding closer to the correct age, opposed to the painfully inaccurate amount of time the bible claims.

      You've got a foot stuck in your mouth. Please, don't bother removing it.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Toby

      Sorry, meant to put this under the reply.
      Bad news, please prove to me that the Bible says that a day to God is a thousand to humans. The future of this discussion hangs in the balance. Since I know with certainty that it makes no such statement, the your validity as an opponent in this debate has run dry.

      October 27, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Jim

      Looks like this conversation was hijacked.

      October 27, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Toby

      Sorry Jim, @ Badnews didn't think so, unless it was you that had the foot stuck in your mouth.

      October 28, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      You already know the scripture. You've already spoken of it. However, you choose to alter it's meaning. By doing so, you completely null your own argument. That's what happens when you interpret the bible. Sorry, but you lose.

      October 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Toby

      @Badnews
      Clearly I was debating with a lunatic.

      October 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.