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My Take: Why good Catholics are challenging church line on homosexuality
A series of recent conferences have cast a light on gay Catholics and their families.
November 8th, 2011
12:22 PM ET

My Take: Why good Catholics are challenging church line on homosexuality

Editor's Note: Patrick Hornbeck is an assistant professor and associate chair for undergraduate studies at Fordham University.

By Patrick Hornbeck , Special to CNN

The Roman Catholic Church has long been a reliable source for one-dimensional storylines: Victims of sexual abuse call for justice. Parishes close as numbers of clergy plummet. Rosary-clad Catholics protest outside abortion clinics.

Perhaps nowhere has the storyline seemed more clear-cut than with regard to the church’s treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their relationships.

Official Catholic teachings describe gay or lesbian orientation as “an objective disorder” and tell those who love their same-sex partners that they possess a “tendency… toward an intrinsic moral evil.”

Catholic bishops have been public advocates for laws banning same-sex marriage, and some have sought to prevent LGBT Catholics and their allies from fully participating in the Church’s rituals and activities

But neither formal teachings nor bishops’ statements tell the whole story.

A series of recent conferences at American colleges reveals the breadth of Catholic approaches to issues of sexual diversity.

The conferences, part of an effort called More than a Monologue, have happened at two Catholic universities and two non-denominational divinity schools

The events conclusively show that American Catholics are hardly of one mind, nor in lockstep with their bishops, when it comes to same-sex marriage; to rights for LGBT people at home, at work, and in church; or to the ongoing campaign against anti-gay bullying in schools.

At Fordham University in New York, a Catholic school, a proud mother of a grown gay son drew a standing ovation when she told a story about discovering the effect of church teachings on her child.

Here’s that mother, Deb Word, who has founded a group Fortunate Families to help Catholic families with lesbian daughters and gay sons, in her own words:

Fast forward to a family vacation in the Gulf. There were five of us floating—Sean and his wife, Chris, and his dad and me, holding onto each other’s rafts. And I said, ‘I think this is what Heaven is like.’ And Christopher said quietly, “except I won’t be there with you.” “Son, where do you get this stuff?” “Mom, it’s your club. You know the rules.”

And if my cradle Catholic child, growing up in a loving family, got this message, then what does Catholic mean in more conservative homes? … And I wonder, why do I stay in a club that my son says is dangerous to his soul?”

Another panelist at the event described the freedom she feels as a result of living, within the church’s rules, as a celibate lesbian.

A third, a physician in New York City, praised the Catholic tradition for its emphasis on human dignity and social justice, but added: “I am troubled by the fact that I find greater acceptance of myself as a whole person in my professional community as a physician, than I do in the official hierarchy of the church of my family, my childhood, and my life.”
Nationally syndicated columnist Dan Savage may be better known for his very public critiques of Catholic leaders than for the year he spent in a high school seminary, or for his Catholic deacon father, or for the baptism he and his husband sought for their son.
But speaking recently at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, Savage described his Catholic family and upbringing, celebrating parts of his Catholic experience.

At the same time, he refused to let the church off the hook for the part he accuses it of playing in tacitly condoning the bullying of LGBT youth.

Last month, at Yale University, a Catholic layman who teaches psychiatry spoke movingly of his attempt to offer church leaders the wisdom of his scientific field, and of his bitter disappointment when his offers were met with silence.

And at Connecticut ’s Fairfield University, scholars, clergy, and lay Catholics recently discussed the implications for the church of having many gay and lesbian people, both in and out of the closet, in roles as priests and ministers.

These public events have brought into the light the struggles, compromises and choices about meaning and love that many Catholics experience daily.

Poll numbers show that while many of their bishops have been stepping up their rhetoric on the issue, only one-in-three American Catholics describe opposition to same-sex marriage as “very important.” Seventy percent support legal recognition for same-sex couples.

All of us, Catholic or not, LGBT or not, owe it to ourselves and our fellow citizens to keep these new conversations going. Let’s not to settle for only part of the story.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Patrick Hornbeck.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Homosexuality • Opinion

soundoff (2,880 Responses)
  1. Mike Spillane

    http://youtu.be/sFBOQzSk14c

    November 9, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  2. musings

    The tradition of celibacy had its day. What remains is probably a thin layer of hypocrisy. It's a shame the Church cannot embrace the gays from outside its own ranks (in which there is a plethora). Maybe the Church does not want to be outed!

    November 9, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  3. mike

    Stupid CNN... thanks for that trash picture. I am not homaphobic, I have many family memebers that are gay but my 7 year old son just saw this stupid picture when i opened the page to read the news. Now I am trying to explain to him why two men are kissing. You STUPID LIB trash network. you bite

    November 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • HAHAHA

      Yo moron you already posted this trash once...

      "Yeah thanks CNN for that trash picture. I am not homaphobic, I have many family memebers that are gay but my 7 year old son just saw this stupid picture when i opened the page to read the news. Now I am trying to explain to him why two men are kissing. You STUPID LIB trash network."

      You shouldn't be allowed to have children if you are going to teach them your trashy bigotry and prejudices that are probably not founded in any facts about gays. Why don't you do the world a favor and show your children what the word LOVE means! What an idiot, now you children can see what a jerk you are.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Obamajoe

      one soldier is dying at Iraq and another one is doing mouth-to-mouth ventilation to save him .

      November 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Obamajoe

      Yo moron, don't you know we can post it again,hahaha ?

      November 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • teddy

      Mike, I agree with your comment 100%. There is a time and place for everything. It's a shame that you go and look at a "news website" and have such images come up and, not by your own will, had to have your children be exposed to such images and having a pandora's box be opened to be explained to a young child.

      True example of the irresponsibility of the media.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Doobie Wah

      I feel sad for your son.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Explaining two people in love should be much easier than explaining the insanity of some cult's mythical jesus dude nailed to a cross...

      November 10, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Hopefully when your son grows up he won't be as bigoted as you.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • tallulah13

      Wow. It must be really difficult to say to your son "because they are in love with each other."

      I don't have a lot of pity for parents who find their children's questions difficult to answer. Have you ever been around a kid? Ninety percent of their questions are designed to be awkward. One day my pre-teen nephew asked his mom (at the dinner table) what a wh.ore was. If you have a hard time answering an honest but embaras.sing question, perhaps you shouldn't be a parent.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  4. Obamajoe

    Focus guys,,,the biggest problem is our economy .

    November 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  5. mike

    Yeah thanks CNN for that trash picture. I am not homaphobic, I have many family memebers that are gay but my 7 year old son just saw this stupid picture when i opened the page to read the news. Now I am trying to explain to him why two men are kissing. You STUPID LIB trash network.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • skyeyez9

      Seeing that picture of two dudes kissing makes my skin crawl. YUCK. It's not natural.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • richunix

      It's wonderful that you have to explain to your son, these are two people in love. Anything else revolves around bigotry.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Obamajoe

      Tell him it's a funny Hollywood movie ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      November 9, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • HAHAHA

      "Yeah thanks CNN for that trash picture. I am not homaphobic, I have many family memebers that are gay but my 7 year old son just saw this stupid picture when i opened the page to read the news. Now I am trying to explain to him why two men are kissing. You STUPID LIB trash network."

      You shouldn't be allowed to have children if you are going to teach them your trashy bigotry and prejudices that are probably not founded in any facts about gays. Why don't you do the world a favor and show your children what the word LOVE means! What an idiot, now you children can see what a jerk you are.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • HAHAHA

      "YUCK. It's not natural."

      The experts in psychology disagree with you and it's found in over 1500 other animals species. You're an idiot.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • attucks1986

      Why is it that two gay dudes kissing are always "in love?" Gays can be promiscuous too. Most of them are-just like straight people.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • PushingBack

      You just proved you are what you say you are not.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You claim that you are not hom.ophobic, but your words say otherwise.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  6. BUMBLECLAD

    The article makes me want to keep an open line in discussing this topic.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  7. Dan F

    I heard it once said that a lot of good people wont make it to haven. We all have a tendency to fit religion to our own liking, gay or not. Call it self justified reasoning. Why because its a lot easier then following the true word of god. If it was easy it would not be worth it.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      What is the true word of god? I favor the word "bivouac" because I just like it.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  8. Frank

    "All of us, Catholic or not, LGBT or not, owe it to ourselves and our fellow citizens to keep these new conversations going.". No, we do not. I am SO SICK AND TIRED of this "LGBT" CRAP.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • HAHAHA

      "I am SO SICK AND TIRED of this "LGBT" CRAP."

      So WHAT! Until they get the same civil rights you have then it will stop. DUH! I am sure people felt the same way when African Americans and women were trying to get their rights too.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • attucks1986

      Why do people insist on comparing gay people to blacks and women? There is no continent of gays, nor do they represent half of the world's population. Gays will always be further down on the totem pole- not because they don't deserve the same rights, they most certainly do. But they will never be a people or a gender.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • jim

      Ditto Frank, sick, sick sick of this nonsense.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Doobie Wah

      Sorry i forced you to read the article and post comments.
      I promise i wont do it again.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Attucks – I didn't realize that in order to qualify for civil rights, one had to have a certain sized demographic. You must have a more updated version of the consti.tution because the 14th amendment in my version doesn't include any such caveats.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • tallulah13

      Funny, Frank, I am disgusted by people claiming that their god is real, without even a scrap of evidence. At least there is real proof that people are born gay. When one reviews the evidence of "god", however, all one finds is a fabrication.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  9. attucks1986

    I support the right of all people to be with who they want and to be happy. That said, I really cannot abide this "waaah, God doesn't accept me" BS. First, the God of any religious book is usually a lot more reasonable than his followers say he (or she) is. Second, why do people feel the need, or the right, to worship God but then change God's rules just because we don't like them? I guess we should stop teaching the Bible altogether, lest we make pedophiles, greedy bankers and santanists feel bad too. What a crock.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • SciFiChickie

      Not that I'm religious but "Christianity/Catholicism isn't about judging one another, it about a relationship, plain and simple. God's grace is limitless and true freedom come through trust in Him" This is the way I have viewed the concept of Christianity/Catholicism... But can you tell me why is it that Extremist Christians/Catholics always try to force everyone else to do what they believe is right... Jesus himself said "Let ye without sin cast the 1st stone" we are all sinners according to the Bible. So, Why would gay's be excluded from being Catholic???
      Catholicism is their religion & the Catholic religion has a lot of loop holes for sinners, I'm just sayin...

      November 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  10. Dan Faber

    I heard it once said that a lot of good people wont make it to haven. We all have a tendency to fit religion to our own liking, gay or not. Call it self justified reasoning. Why because its a lot easier then following the true word of god. If it was easy it wouldnt be worth it.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  11. Chuck

    It's really hard for me to look at this pic of the two guys kissing.... I'm not a hater...my brother is gay. It honestly makes me a little queezy. Is this due to societal influence or just natural instinct.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Leni

      Natural instinct, it's a completely visceral reaction...

      November 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • I dunno

      Chuck,

      It's not attractive to me either, but then I'm not gay. A picture of a pair of male/female 80 year-olds getting it on might turn me off too, though... or a couple of really obese people... or a pair of Down Syndrome people...

      November 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • PushingBack

      My dad used to say the same thing about interracial couples.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • SciFiChickie

      just so you know... When you make out with your girlfriend in front of your "gay" brother he feels the same reaction.

      November 9, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I would guess societal influence, since some people don't have that problem at all.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  12. freddy j

    You can choose not be act gay or carry out the feelings and emotions that go with it. You can also hide behind a Straight lifestyle and pretend it will go away. You can pray non stop everyday of your life not to be gay. You can hide away your feelings, but they have a way of coming out weather you want them to or not. You can NOT change who or what you truly are. Just look at all the people who have hidden in the closet that are in the church. Look what its done to thier lifes and the people they people they marry. Its not a good thing to live a lie and lie to everyone. Its not fair to them or yourself or God. Living a lie is a sin.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Really?

      You're right, you can't, but GOD can!

      November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • freddy j

      ok mr "Really? if God can, then why are their Gay people? I am one who prayed everyday NOT to be and did everything nessesary to try and live according to what is said, but let me tell you. after so many years I was still Gay. It does not go away. like I said, you can hide behind it only. God is NOT responsible for anything that happens here on Earth. He is ony there when the time comes to leave this world. If that were the case, the world would be perfect still. You have NO idea unless you are Gay. Knowone who is born in this world choses to be a gender or preference. Knowone choses to be born with disease or M.S.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • BRC

      @Really?,
      If a god was that involved, why would the person be gay to begin with, unless that god was okay with it. Or are you willing to posit that the god allowed someone to be born biased towards something that would later draw punishment, to test if the person was going to ask them for help to change themselves from something that wasn't their fault to begin with? If you agree with the second scenario, that god is a douc.he, and should be scorned in all ways possible.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • steve g

      @Really? so...God can change who you are...correct me if i'm wrong but isn't it generally accepted that "god made us in his image" so why would he change us from what he made us to be originally?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  13. John

    Total gay population of the USA 1.7% in the latest 2011 survey. Time CNN devotes to Gay issues is far out in front of the representive population. So my question is this who is pushing who on this issue?

    November 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Chris

      Thats a good point. They never talk about atheists(Also known as rational thinkers) and they make up a good portion of the population.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Ralph in Orange Park, FL

      What percentage of the US population is composed of celebrities and what percentage of media coverage is dedicated to them?We can see endless coverage of the pointless, talentless Kardashian sisters, but we are not supposed to see news about gay Catholics?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • John

      Chris here you go:
      A 2004 BBC poll showed the number of people in the US who don't believe in a god to be about 9%.[8] A 2008 Gallup poll showed that a smaller 6% of the US population believed that no god or universal spirit exists.[27] The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 34.2 million Americans (15.0%) claim no religion, of which 1.6% explicitly describes itself as atheist (0.7%) or agnostic (0.9%), nearly double the previous 2001 ARIS survey figure of 0.9%.[28] The highest occurrence of "nones", according to the 2008 ARIS report, reside in Vermont, with 34% surveyed.[29]

      November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  14. rex edie

    if i said it .... where is it ???

    November 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  15. Abercius24

    The author is very ignorant of Catholic teaching, appealing to the reader's emotions while building a straw man of the Church so he can easily knock it down. Please. You don't even begin to understand the Church's teachings on Grave Sin versus Mortal Sin; or even Mortal Sin and Hell! We don't teach that gay people go to hell!!! That would override our teachings against being judgmental!!! We teach people who die in the state of mortal sin go to hell. A gay person does not necessarily fall into that category any more than any other sinner. It's more about loving the Creator more than the creation, not who is in the right "club" and "doing the right things!" Those mentalities are firmly rejected heresies as far as the Church is concerned!

    November 9, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Barbarian

      Thank you

      November 9, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Andrew

      Very well put.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • BRC

      @Abercius24,
      You actually point out one of the issues I have with religion. Why should we love a creator more than our fellow human beings? For starters, regardless of anyone's faith or beliefs there is no solid indisputable proof of any god's existance, but we know that the people around us exist. What's more, if there is a divine creator, they exist in a realm that is removed from the human condition, they don't suffer the same pains and trials that humans do, and even if they do exists, there is even less evidence that they are actually involved in people's day to day lives. But there is no end to the evidence of the people around you, of families and friends helping each other overcome hardhsip. If a god demands more love than the people in our lives, they should have to prove they exist, and they should earn it.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • shawn

      really? Heresies? They are taught every day by simplistic, moralistic and hypocritical members of your priesthood. It is not about God; it is about control of human beings with threats and condemnation.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Colin

      Have you got any idea how stupid a belief in hell and heaven is in the 21st Century.

      Approximately one hundred and ten thousand million (110,000,000,000) people have lived on Earth. Given all those who have, over the centuries, rejected the Christian god, or who have otherwise committed mortal sins, there must be literally thousands of millions of people burning for all eternity in the cosmic oven of hell set up by your all-loving god. Some must have been burning for thousands of years by now.

      About 100,000 people die every day. There must be a constant stream of thousands of forlorn souls every day into the one way pit of hell your all-merciful god set up and maintains.

      But, far, far worse than sheer overwhelming numbers is the extent of the punishment. There is no way out, no parole, no time off for good behavior. You don’t just burn, you burn for all eternity. Billions of people and thousands of daily new arrivals burning for all eternity!

      No criminal justice system in the history of the Human race, even those established by the most despotic of tyrants, comes close to matching the unfathomable barbarity of your “infinitely benevolent” god. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, hell I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is refuse to believe in the Christian god and it will impose a penalty on me an infinite times worse than the death penalty.

      Hitler murdered six million Jews in his concentration camps, but compared to your god, Hitler was a bleeding-hearted wimp. A goose-stepping girlie-man. Your all-caring god not only burns billions more than Hitler, Pol Pot and all other dictators and tyrants added up, he keeps doing so to them for all eternity! I would not wish a bad sunburn on a person simply because they have a different religion to me, let alone fry them for ever.

      It is also odd that your all-loving god is also all-knowing and knows which souls will go to hell before they do. He even knows it before they are born, and yet he still creates them. He is worse than a psychopathic teenager than breeds litter after litter of kittens so he can slowly roast them in ovens.

      With a bit of thought, the whole thing gets really silly really quickly, doesn't it?

      November 9, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Doobie Wah

      Who decided that i was born with sin ?
      Nice scam the church has, the moment you are born
      you are in mortal debt for the rest of your life.
      Kaching !!! Pass the money plate, fill it up and ease your soul.

      Jesus didnt need a money plate or a church,
      but that cash cow has made the church one of the richest "organizations" on earth.
      The vatican could feed every man, woman and child on this planet......
      so ask yourself why people are starving ???

      November 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • PushingBack

      Colin – Love, love, love the response. I'm copying this out and keeping it because it is an amazing argument! Thank you!

      November 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  16. Barbarian

    This article is another poorly written article by CNN "journalists". Why didn't the author talk more on the Lesbian that found freedom in celibacy? That would give more insight into the basic Catholic teaching that we are to strive to free ourselves from our fleshly desires, which enslave us. Very few can achieve this type of freedom but it does not mean it is not worth striving for.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • HAHAHA

      "Why didn't the author talk more on the Lesbian that found freedom in celibacy?"

      Gays deserve the same loving intimate relationships as straights, there is no reason for them to remain celibate.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  17. Dave Howard

    thank you Mr. Hornbeck for your opinion and article. SOMEONE should of discussed this long ago. I DON'T belive that the public majority realizes SO MANY are still in The CLoset due to losing their position in The Church (I am Baptist)and of course, I will NEVER bow to The Pope, he is just another man. I am NOT fooled. But, if The Catholic Church will read this and re-consider their position, maybe SO MANY youth and others also, will not attempt or follow-through with suicide. Don't know what I am talking about? Paramedic x32 yrs, Baptist (American)x47yrs, prison x6yrs, life 55yrs and Catholic x3 cousin

    November 9, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  18. WutTheFrell

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Christianity that are hard to get around. Now before some believer rants back at me that I am evil, sad, or going to burn for all eternity in hell, please take the time to actually read and cogitate the objections. I am tired of being told I am evil or rude, or whatever without back up. If you have an objection to what I say post it, if you only object to the fact that I said it, don't bother, I intend to keep saying it.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,700,000,000 years ago, sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years, waited for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,700,000,000 years for h.omo sapiens to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle east. While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    2. This “all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 6 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers, so as to know if they think bad thoughts, so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages. This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant, sheep-like gullibility.

    4. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions about the transparently silly aspects of the faith(s).

    5. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Korsesh at Waco – 35 years after the fact.

    6. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something, which it most certainly is not, one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices? Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more universal that the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    7. The Bible is literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, ra.pe and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    8. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is be honestly not believe in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Really?

      Just wait then if you CHOOSE, the great tribulation might just help you believe. You're worst nightmares will be childsplay.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Barbarian

      You are very well educated in the argument against Christianity; but very poorlt educated in Christianity itself. I pray that one day your surface arguments against Christianity lead you to a desire to educate yourself on the true teachings of Christ.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Colin

      OK Barbarian, given that the post is a copy and paste of what I wrote, what did I get wrong? Don't say it is wrong without being specific.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • billsf

      that was outstanding.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • WutTheFrell

      hey colin thanks agian for the copy...

      November 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • pep1949

      OMG My reply to your post was attributed to "Reality" Yikes

      November 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Doobie Wah

      Thank you, and well put.

      The gospels of Mary ( Magdalene) and Judas where found, and the Vatican called them fakes
      because they did not like what was in them.
      They dont want people to find out about the "real" Jesus.
      Jesus preached that God was in your heart, not in a church.

      The ten commandents, one of them
      no false idols before me,
      yet millions of people every year go to the vatican and kneel in front of the pope.
      You "DO NOT" need the pope to have a relationship with god.

      This is how you control the massess.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • J.W

      Colin you did not write that. WutTheFrell did. Or am I missing something?

      November 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • J.W

      Oh nevermind I get it now

      November 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Tim

      I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your piece! These are my sentiments exactly! I'm sure that you've done this, but may I recommend the teachings and writings of Bart Ehrman? He's someone that makes you think and put your religious views in perspective. Thank you for such a beautifully written response!!!! 🙂

      November 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • E. Hsu

      Hi there,

      You raise many reasonable concerns and objections to Christianity that I, too – as a follower of Jesus Christ – wrestle with. I do not have the time right now to address your objections (I'm on a break at work!), and I'm not even confident in my own expository skills anyway, so instead, I'd like to offer a recommendation for a book whose author makes a humble and at least what I find to be an intellectually sincere and satisfying attempt at responding to these sorts of questions. Perhaps you've heard of it. It's called, "The Reason for God", and is written by Tim Keller, who is a pastor in New York City. He has a heart for loving people and seeking social justice and does not shy away from rebuking people who call themselves Christians but are merely living lives steeped in 'religion' – which usually comes with hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and all sorts of corrosive pride. In the book, he addresses several of the objections you raised such as the reliability of the Biblical accounts and the apparent discord between science and Christianity's account of our existence/reality.

      I apologize if it seems that I am simply dismissing your concerns with a glib book recommendation especially since I know you've taken the time to think through these issues. Please send any recommendations for books my way, and perhaps we could carry on a dialogue about these critical questions. I for one would not want to live in a fantasy world filled with false beliefs, especially ones that have seemingly led to much suffering and injustice. On the whole, however, through both faith and reason working together, time and time again I am drawn back to Jesus Christ, his claims, his life, and his teachings.

      Take care,
      E. Hsu

      November 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • I dunno

      WutTheFrell, Maybe you could cite @colin when/if you use his work again... I know that he doesn't mind people using it/them, but maybe a citation would be nice.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Sean

      I think Thomas Aquinas makes a very strong case for the existence of a God: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/aquinas3.asp
      Whether that God is in the Christian mold is debatable.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • J.W

      As far as not having any idea who wrote the gospels, I think the authorship has been questions, I do not think it is unfair to attribute much of the influence with the people credited, although the book may have been compiled over a period of time, which I guess Mark is often considered the most accurate.
      I agree that the Bible included alot of outdated morality. Since it was written by man it does have some of the writers own thoughts. I do not necessarily think that means that their inspiration did not come from God. And of course there was a lot of wars going on back then. Of course if the Jews defeated their enemy they would believe that God had a hand in it.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Rafael

      I see your point but

      For those who do not believe the bible is foolishness, but to believers it is the power of God.

      The bible offers hope, your beliefs do not offer hope, the bible offers eternal life to those who believe, your belief only offer emptiness and eventual death.

      Offer some hope, offer victory in this miserable world full of deceivers and maybe people will fall in line with your set of beliefs.
      But people like you cannot offer any of that, only rational and logic, there is no hope in that, not in this life or the next.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • WutTheFrell

      for "I dunno"- I acutally just missed cliping the part with his name, from were I have it saved & didn't realize it wasn't there until after posting. Sorry for the rush 😉

      November 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I love it when christians, faced by logic and verifiable proof, stamp their little feet, shake their tiny fists and cry "wait til your celestial father gets home!" Doesn't get much more impotent than that.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  19. catholic engineer

    As a Catholic, I learned that in order for sin to occur, three conditions must exist: 1) the matter must be offensive to God (whether petty theft or murder) , 2) it must be given full consent of the will, and 3) there must be sufficient time for reflection before acting. Based on this, I don't believe that gayness in itself is sinful. How can 6ual orientation be a matter of the will?

    November 9, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Really?

      For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another

      November 9, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • dalis

      @ Really? St. Paul is not referring to gay people in his epistle. He is referring to idolaters. Read it again.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Really?

      I did read it when I posted it. Pretty plain to me.

      November 9, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • tallulah13

      Hey, I fell of a horse and saw god. No, really! God told me that Paul was a big fake who was tired of being a middleman in the Roman tax system, saw a power vacuum and decided that he was just the man to turn that upstart cult of christianity into a big bureaucracy.

      God said that Jesus was a really cool, if radical rabbi, but he wasn't the messiah. God kind of liked that Jesus guy, and thought he said a lot of smart things. It really makes him angry when people forget all the wisdom Christ taught because they are more interested in the fake part about heaven that that darned Paul added. Without god's permission (god looked pretty indignant when he said that)!

      God also told me that he really doesn't mind if people are gay, as long as no one bothers him during a football game when that Tebow guy is playing. God has to make sure that the point spread is covered.

      November 10, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  20. dalis

    (Don't know why this didn't post) Don't know if anyone else noticed but the two men in the photo are standing in front of a very special church in Rome – the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. Why is this important? Two reasons: this church was beautifully remodeled from Diocletian's Baths by a very notable gay Catholic in history – Michelangelo Buonarroti. Yes, at one time, the Catholic Church saw fit to employ a gay man to design its finest church and conserve its antiquities. His Sistine Chapel frescoes witness every conclave that elects every new pope. Secondly, the basilica in the photo today houses the Papacy's official Meridian Line as well as the Catholic Church's official museum dedicated to the reconciliation of Galileo Galilei. Let that serve as a humbling reminder that being gay is entirely reconcilable with being Catholic and that the Church has often worked for Reason, but that it has just has often impeded its progress when it was not prepared to change.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • chatterbox

      One must also remember that Michaelangelo was employed by the Church to paint because they were hoping to ruin his reputation as a sculpture/artist because he was not necessarily known for his painting. I don't endorse the Church's motives but I do recognize that he wasn't necessarily employed because he was "gay" nor was he employed even for his known skill, it was much more of a scheme of his enemies to trip him up.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:34 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.