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Black, atheist and living in the South
A group of black atheists meets in Atlanta.
December 8th, 2011
01:56 PM ET

Black, atheist and living in the South

By Kim Chakanetsa, CNN

Editor's note: Listen to the CNN Radio broadcast about black atheists in the South:

 (CNN) - Benjamin Burchall first realized how different his experience in the South was going to be while looking for something to watch on television on a Sunday night.

"I couldn't find anything on television but religious programming,” says Burchall, 38, a former Christian minister and agricultural consultant who moved from Long Beach, California, to Atlanta for work in 2010, “And I thought, 'Oh my God, where am I? Is this all that is on television here?'"

And he quickly found other differences from West Coast living.

"I was not used to meeting someone for the first time and having their first question be ‘what church do you go to?’"

Burchall’s proud response to such queries was, “None.” He is part of an increasingly visible minority – black atheists living in the Bible Belt.

Mandisa Thomas, a mother of three, has lived in Atlanta for more than 13 years. An atheist since her early 20s, Thomas has a two-pronged strategy when it comes to dealing with the religion question. The first is simply not talking about it unless someone else brings it up.

The second is a kind of warning: “I will ask, ‘Are you sure you want to hear this?’” she says. The goal, Thomas says, is to avoid unnecessary confrontations.

But there are other situations that are simply a part of living down South.

Take the Walmart employee who suggested Thomas come back for gospel singer Yolanda Adams’ book signing, or the stranger who approached her and asked if she was born again and implored her to turn her life to Jesus when she said she wasn’t.

“There is an assumption that black woman in particular are religious,” says Thomas.

Statistics suggest that is a fair assumption to make. A much-cited study published in 2008 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that of all the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States, black Americans are most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Less than 1.5% of blacks identify themselves as atheist or agnostic, compared with 5% of whites and 7% of Asians.

The same study notes that nearly four of five African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% among all U.S.adults.

However, the trend among black Americans is toward greater levels of nonbelief. The number of blacks reporting no religion in American Religious Identification Survey almost doubled between 1990 and 2008.

In the South, this trend is witnessed by the emergence of groups such as the Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta (BNOA), and the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta. The proliferation of YouTube videos and forum postings by Southern atheists also suggest a growing desire to build a community for the religiously unaffiliated.

Burchall says it’s not necessarily the case that there are more black atheists these days, “but there is an increase in the number of people coming out and saying they are black atheists.”

And there are more organizations looking to decouple black culture from religion. In January, Burchall and Thomas co-founded BNOA with the aim of bringing together black atheists who might otherwise be shunned by family and friends. Burchall and Thomas had initially joined an atheist group in Atlanta, but they wanted an organization that spoke directly to their experiences as African-Americans.

For most of American history, meaning in the African-American community has been tied to religion.

“The church has always been at the forefront of providing meaning, identity, mission and purpose for the lives of African-American people,” says Gregory Eason, the senior pastor at the historic Big Bethel AME Church in downtown Atlanta.

Many black atheists argue that Christianity was imposed on African slaves in the United States and are uneasy with how fully African-Americans have embraced it.

“It was forced on our ancestors; now their descendants have fallen for it hook, line and sinker and it has been such a part of our culture,” says Burchall.

“Oftentimes blacks believe that Christianity is black culture, and if you are not Christian you are not part of the community,” he says. “After all, it was Christianity that helped us through slavery times and the civil rights movement.”

For Mario Dorsey, an Atlanta native, Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta helped him feel comfortable with moving away from that tradition.

“I joined because I felt that in the black community religion was much more of a social movement, almost like a mass hypnotism,” Dorsey says. “It felt pretty cool to be part of a group that actually thought like I do.”

Like many black atheists, Dorsey does not announce his atheism loudly.

“For the most part I don’t walk around with atheist on my shoulder," he says. "Most people won’t know unless they ask me, but when I am asked I get this really weird reaction as if I’d said I torture monkeys for a living or something. It’s really weird.”

Dorsey acts as the organization’s lead online administrator. The role is particularly important as the Internet has played a significant role in recruiting members. Thomas, the current president, estimates they have about 30 people who regularly attend meetings. The community online is even larger, with up to 150 members.

Burchall, who left Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta in June this year to pursue other opportunities, has since founded another organization, the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta.

Dominique Huff, another lifelong Atlantan, the son of a preacher, first heard about Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta on Facebook. He says he became a nonbeliever in high school.

It hasn't been particularly easy living in a city where “it’s always, ‘Have a blessed day,’ and you see churches on every street corner,” he says. But since 2000, Huff has slowly chosen to embrace his nonbelief, a decision that has not been easy for his minister mother.

“She is kind of in denial about it,” Huff says. “It is not a conversation we have. She still tries to pray with me. I pray along with her. I am like, ‘That’s where you at; that’s not for me.' There is like an invisible line we just never talk about.”

The online conversation is particularly vibrant, with numerous YouTube postings and blogs addressing the cultural taboo. A posting dated February 24, 2011, found on the Atheist Nexus, an umbrella networking organization, spoke of the difficulty of being black, atheist and homosexual in Mississippi. The member has since started a ‘secret’ Facebook group targeting other atheists and in April 2011 noted that of the 85 atheists who had joined, 10 were black.

The impetus for starting the group was made clear in a posting that read: “given how obsessed people in Mississippi are with Christianity, being an atheist here is very isolating and difficult. Add to that the fact that I'm Black and non-heterosexual, and we're talking social suicide.”

On ExChristian.net, a posting by a member identified as ‘kclark’ details the struggles of growing up in a religious household as a gay atheist in a small town in central Louisiana.

YouTube has become an especially popular outlet for African-Americans to declare their atheism. Jeremiah, a 20-year-old ‘living somewhere in the heart of the bible belt’ in April last year uploaded a video arguing that faith and the Bible are not evidence that God exists and affirming that he is proud to be an atheist. In a video uploaded in September 2009, Marquell Garrett, who is based in North Augusta, South Carolina, addresses the oft-asked question: where are the black atheists?

Garrett concludes that the consequences of declaring oneself an atheist in the black community have resulted in many nonbelievers remaining closeted.

Garrett also runs a blog titled Atheist Fighting Back Keeping Strong and Speaking Out‘ where he writes of his experiences of coming out as an atheist at age 14 in South Carolina.

Not all postings are related to a rejection of Christianity, however. A YouTube video by a member based in Birmingham, Alabama, who identifies himself as Bilal3700 details why he left Islam to become an atheist.

Unlike other parts of the South where activities by black atheists remain online, Atlanta appears to be spearheading the momentum with the creation of nonbeliever organizations such as the Humanist Congregation of Greater Atlanta, which allow a previously marginalized minority a voice and a community that goes beyond anonymous avatars.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Georgia • United States

soundoff (1,233 Responses)
  1. Nick

    Explain gravity. Not its visible effects on physical objects, but what is it. Where does its force come from?

    December 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Aezel

      Right. Because anything we currently don't fully understand we should just throw up our arms and go "God musta dunnit! Herp derp!"

      Science doesn't claim to currently know everything, it just claims to make honest observations from what we currently can observe. Based on your post I think you're better off in a kindergarten sandbox somewhere.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Thats why Science has proven itself superior. Because it never claims absolutes. Religious people are required to blind themselves. Science is a tool that removes the blinders.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Well, clearly it is a manifestation of God's love and cannot be explained in any other way. Attempting to do so will send you to hell where you will you burn forever in the absence of God's love; therefore in 0-Gravity. So you better bow to Jesus!

      A lack of understanding does not necessitate the divine. Lack of understanding creates fear of the unknown; the fear promotes a belief in God so the fearful can sleep at night. The option is to abolish fear by gaining an education. But, who would do that? It requires critical thinking and a will to second guess the establishment.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Modern science can't adequately explain every single phenomena of this Existence, THEREFORE, GOD.

      Great argument, bucko.

      Any theoretical physicists feel like addressing this man? I'm too tired to channel Neil DeGrasse Tyson right now.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Not only God, but a particular version.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      just because you cannot explain something yet does not mean you should say its because of God how about “I don’t know” same to you atheist,.. how did the universe began “I don’t know” beware the price of hubris,.. it’s human nature nobody what’s to admits their clueless they want to know everthing even when the don’t.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Sam, I just can't believe that someone who works in the scientific field could be so clueless. Atheists side with Science. Science is about saying I don't know. Religion is the one that says yes this is a definite, and with no provable evidence at that. Your education has a long way to go.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Thats why scientists with a huge amount of provable evidence will still call their findings theories.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      I thought that they teach you that in 8th grade.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Curious

      Interesting question – people hope to be able to describe it, particularly in relation to other forces/particles/symmetries, but will a description ever be complete enough to say what it is? I'm curious, though. How is gravity relevant to Benjamin Burchall's adventure with atheism?

      December 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • TR6

      @Nick: “Explain gravity. Not its visible effects on physical objects, but what is it. Where does its force come from?”

      OK, go ahead, show us some visible effects of your god on physical objects.

      December 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  2. Republican Hippy Hater

    Jesus spent way too much time with 12 dudes and no job for my taste.

    December 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Aezel

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JodQYZccAdY&w=640&h=360]

      December 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Normally I hate when people respond to comments solely with unexplained videos, but that was unexpectedly hilarious.

      Thanks for that.

      December 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  3. Fisting your brother

    Fisting your brother and getting some fudge muffins.

    December 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  4. GodofLunaticsCreation

    How many beheadings will it take for people to accept Jesus?

    December 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Remember kids, he loves and cherishes every individual human soul.

      NOW ACCEPT AND REPENT OR BURN IN TORMENT FOR ETERNITY.

      /unsubscribe

      December 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  5. The Jackdaw

    I hate God. He slows my internet. Jesus is no hero either. What a D-bag.

    December 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  6. tammy

    Please, please boys. There is plenty of hole for everyone, top/bottom, back/front. Quick!! Someone doo doo on me.

    December 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      whatever rocks your boat

      December 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Nick

    Just because you cant explain something does not mean it doesnt exist. We cant explain gravity, does it exist? I came to religion thru science, I just cant see all this happening without some form of higher intelligence being involved.

    December 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      You can't see it because you are closed minded. If I flip a coin 100 times it will be around 50% heads and 50% tails. That is chance! Why can't you accept that chance does have an order and that order isn't a sign of Gods hand intervening?

      December 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      You can't see it happening without God.

      I can see it happening both ways. Either one is equally possible so far as I'm concerned.

      However, the main religions of this world are patently wrong. Their own "Holy" books are full of inconsistencies, false causalities, factual errors and outright lies. If they can't even get their own "Divine Word" right, how do they expect me to believe anything else they have to say?

      Anyone who claims to know the Word of God is a liar, a fool, ignorant or insane. Take your pick.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Argument from credulity. "I just can't see or imagine how so and so happened" is not a valid argument.

      Also, based on your reasoning ("Just because you cant explain something does not mean it doesnt exist"), every possible explanation for any given phenomenon is just as likely to be true. For example, I lost a sock the other day and I can't explain why. I postulate that, in the middle of the night, a wall in my house opened and a gremlin came out of it and stole my sock. According to your argument, this is just as likely to be the explanation as any other.

      Who says "we can't explain gravity"? Science does explain gravity.

      You didn't find religion thru science my friend. You "came to religion" in spite of science.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      How does recognizing patterns in the universe mandate a deity? I would be more confused if there were no patterns.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      Gravity is inexplicable? Damn! So, all that stuff about physical bodies attracting with a force proportional to their mass is all guess work at best. Just when thought I figured out how the earth maintains its orbit! Time to start over....Thats a lot, pal! LOL

      December 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Nick, try cracking open a book besides the bible. Who say's we can't explain gravity? Hint: it has to do with the concentration of mass.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Rick

      Did you really say gravity can't be explained? Wow! I will not dear insult you b/c you did a pretty good job of doing it yourself

      December 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Of course gravity can be explained with the theory of Intelligent Falling.
      It should be taught in physics class as an alternative to standard gravitational theory.
      Teach the controversy!

      December 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  8. Snc735

    Hallowed are the Ori.

    December 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      lol

      December 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  9. thes33k3r

    Religion is a form of slavery. It is a self-imposed mental slavery. Freedom from religion is one of the most liberating feelings one can have...not because one no longer has any responsibility to one's fellow human beings. On the contrary, discarding religion and sincerely seeking to understand the universe and our place in it can make one begin to care much more about this life, our fellow sentient beings, this planet and what it really means to be human.

    December 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Snc735

      Nicely said!

      December 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      Theists are definitely NOT ready to speak with you! Too strong a dose. LOL

      December 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Rob

      You are so correct. Now, if the rest of the world could catch up.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  10. BlackCatholicinATL

    Wow, why are comments taking over an hour to post?

    December 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Mine aren't. Must be just you.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  11. Ryo

    Why is the very idea of God so rejected? Could it be because there are those who must have absolute control in every aspect of their lives and thus be their own gods? Could it be because it's 'easier' to blame past church experiences for present-day decisions, instead of taking responsibility and accountability? Or could it be that there are those who are so caught up in the physical, that they don't want to or can't handle the spiritual?

    It is a matter of choice; who, though, will really be able to handle the consequences of it?

    December 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i'll give you a short, honest answer. atheists don't believe in god because the idea of god doesn't make sense. on any level.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Observer

      Some people want to use all of their knowledge to try to understand the world and others prefer to sit back and let a 2,000-year-old book try to answer all their questions.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bob

      No, it's merely a lack of any evidence for a specific god such as the one of the idiotic Christian supersti-tions, that holds up under scrutiny.

      It's that simple, stupid.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Ryo

      Interesting.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Ryo, when I read your ignorant comment I see a brainwashed person so incapable of understanding anything outside your box that you reach for explanations that also fit within that box.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Actually, Ryo, more than 90% of the world's population believe in god in one form or another. Life for human beings has mostly been short and hard throughout history, and belief in something better in an afterlife is very comforting for a thinking being. And it's never hurt religions that those in power could use those beliefs to better control the behavior of the masses.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Pritka

      Actually, I think the idea of God is to easy to accept. It excuses all kinds of behaviors, justifies just about any atrocity and inhibits real communication.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      Your question seems to assume that all people must worship someone or something. Speaking for myself, I reject the idea of any worship. I accept the fact that many things are beyond my control, and I try to be the best human being I can be. The only “reward” I seek is the satisfaction of knowing that my loved ones are well. Regardless of consequences, this doesn't change.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Pritka

      As to past religious behaviors, there are things going on now in so called "Christian" churches and organizations that are irresponsible and harmful to humans and their offspring. Raping children being the most heinous but also ministers visiting brothels and using drugs and living like potentates and taking multiple child brides as well as condemning people for being unlike the acceptable main stream's narrow parameters of who a "Christian" can be.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  12. DanB the agnostic

    "and an imaginary friend poofing it all into existence isn't much of a theory."

    I don't know, the theists certainly got the Big Bang right 🙂

    December 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Michaeltanino

      I hope that was in humor, as the Big Bang was a scientific discovery.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      expansion is multiplication not addition. Zero multiplied by zero does not equal one. Absolute nothing cannot make something and contrariwise. The big bang cannot hold up mathematically, and CERN failed. Its basic trig no matter how hard you try you cannot reach absolute zero.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      The physics of the big bang can be disproven by your modern highschool student. Let’s work on something else like fusion

      December 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      CERN is a huge failure
      http://news.yahoo.com/cern-higgs-boson-god-particle-likely-does-not-172205263.html
      these guys can’t even figure out time travel. Listen its easey
      CELL Phone + Microwave (reversed polarity) generates a black hole. Buy Jello (flaver optinal) set in microwave enter in desired time (1 second equals 5 minutes) send text to devise to activate then Jello goes back in time without being matter squeezed in a vacuum.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • IMMORTAL UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE

      Sam Yaza, Math does account for the big bang, it just you need more than high school math to understand it, read Stephen Hawkins. Show us one point where the bible has stated something as fact that was not disproven by sound science.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Sam is an uneducated bigot who likes to believe he has a grain of intelligence.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Michaeltanino

      Sam Yaza, you are amusing. "Nothing" as in absolute Nothing, may not even exist. It clearly cannot be shown to exist and if it could it would no longer be "nothing", it would be "something". You have to redefine what "nothing" means. Virtual particles pop in and out of existence in the vacuum of space all the time, so "nothing" is actually something after all. Our Universe, with a total NET energy of zero may be a form of "nothing". For all the positive energy in the Universe it is equally countered by the negative energy of gravity making the total net amount of energy ZERO. Something with Zero energy CAN come from "nothing".

      Besides, you don't apply your own idea to God, so you're being hypocritical.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Can’t do that the bible is full of ‘it’. I agree you should have more than high school education and it should be in the science (I do biomechanics myself I like to play with life). But it does not take that to disprove the big bang it utterly ridicules like the multi-verse theory and all of quantum physics, keep your head in reality please.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      um guys I’m listening to bad religion (sky scr_per) while typing on the belief blog whose side do you think I’m on just because someone does not agree with you is no reason to throw out such insults… practice what you preach…. I I just drew parallel between atheist and Christians.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Sam, what you do proves nothing. I have many degrees and have worked in many labs. I don't proclaim myself as the end all be all of my field. Face it, you are a nobody in your field because you are a fool who likes to prop himself up on the hard work of more intelligent individuals. You are an ignorant uneducated child trying to play like you know the first thing about what you are talking about.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      I don't care who's side you are on. You spit in the face of the less fortunate and act high and mighty. You are on the side of the blind and hate full.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      And further more my Manga not accounted the last book I read was The Grand Design I am a fan of hawkens,.. have you heard that story were some one replaced the program on his pc with Miku Hatsunes voice,…. That was me I have been to 12 of his lectures and I always throw out the hard questions at him I don’t agree with him most of his stuff is hypothetical and untestable and the current state of human achievement but he is vary intelligent and I admire that and his opinions are greatly validated.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Well mister lunatics, your clearly jumping to conclusion
      “I don't care who's side you are on. You spit in the face of the less fortunate and act high and mighty. You are on the side of the blind and hate full.”
      The charity I do is not to make myself feel better it to help individuals who are having a hard time, my religion has absolutely nothing to do with it. And I do not have a holier than thou ident_ty,.. its more like unholier then thou and true my hatred is directed and Christendom however I do associate with good Christians however few they are,.. and you ser are the blind and hateful you are the ones attacking Everyone who is not an atheist your locked into your narrow minded views and oppose different ones.
      Parallels,.. get over it

      December 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Sam, Who said Im an atheist? I stick by my statement considering your statements in the past. You are so blind that you won't allow yourself to see it. Im glad that you approve of genocide and Im sorry to inform you that no amount of "charity" work will excuse that.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      I would say that you are very uneducated in the teachings and history of Christianity. I guess that explains why so many Asians are duped into that religion.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      but I don’t approve of genocide,… my people were the victims of genocide,… it’s hard being a pagan
      and from what I recall that whole riding of the Horde you know Attila was to prove god does not exist I’m pretty sure we Shintoist have never stooped to genocide, virgin sacrifice was as low as we went and that only lasted 10 years before considered ridicules. And wiccans they have a hard time killing a turnip. Druids they were starved to the point of cannibalism by the roman church. Pegans,.. ok they tried to kill ever last Greek on the planet,.. but now a days the say it was messed up Gregorian’s…. there weak librarians they couldn’t kill a people if they tried,.. and they rather read

      December 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      oh and undereducated in the Christian teaching I’m over educated I actually know for starts Satan is still an angel of god now unless you are incredibly knowledgeable about the Christian mythos there is no way you would know that,… even more so I know God real explicit name.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  13. Robert

    @Monkeyman... the biggest problem with atheism, for me anyway, is ignorance. Rather than learning about particular religous practices and arguing its on merit, it's mostly about mockery and verbal abuse. Religon is also about culture and philosphy, what is good is realitve to current culture and religoin is seen through the glasses of the times. What does it matter if it was "the Son of God" or the "fuzzy Wuzzy Bunny" that puts people on the moral path of the times? An atheist says "don't kill", the Christan bible says "thou shalt not kill" the Qu'ran 17:13 "And do not take any human being's life ...", the hippy says "peace, Brother", does it really matter how he got there? If you want to change someone's mind about religion you have to speak on their level, otherwise you are just preching to the choir. You don't have to be a believer to do good deeds and just because you are a believer doen't make you a good person, amazingly enough this Is in the Bible, read Romans, which also effectively argues that the law should deal with ones actions and the church with ones faith.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Robert –

      studies have found that most atheists are generally more knowledgeable about the various world religions than the average theist.

      We've heard your arguments and rejected them as unsound. The major organized religions make no sense and are active agents of evil in our world.

      When you folks learn how to live and let live, we will do the same.

      As a sidenote, if you have any questions for me (a ragingly liberal atheist) I would be more than happy to answer them intelligently and politely.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      What makes you think that just because someone is mocking something, they haven't already given it serious contemplation? Thats the problem with you people. You assume that if atheists only knew about the teachings of your particular denomination they would agree. Many atheists come from a religious background. We don't feel the need to debate every biblical stanza because we already debated it and have come to the conclusion that it is wrong, not practiced by religious hypocrites, conflicts with other teachings in the same religion, or just common knowledge that is not exclusive to your religious sect (lifted).

      December 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Robert

      Just because I can speak intelligently on religon doen't mean I am a religous person, that too is an atheistic assumption. I am agnostic, which is treated worse by atheists ingeneral.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      What makes YOU think Im not agnostic?

      December 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Robert –

      in no way is agnosticism treated "worse" by atheists. Worse than what, the religious?

      The term atheist actually implies agnosticism. "Atheist" means "without belief in God". It does not imply knowledge one way or the other. Most of us simply leave off the "agnostic" from "atheist" because it is redundant.

      The rest of your statement(s) come off as religious apologetics.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  14. heresy

    Disregard my previous comments, guys. I'm just a very lonely man/woman who loves pen0r. If you'd like to visit my site, then please go to http://www.clownsong.com

    December 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  15. Austin

    I'm a Christian..but i dont understand why people feel the need to press their religion on others. Not only is it ignorant, but it gives Christianity a bad rep. People should believe what they want, do what they want, and live the way they want to live without others casting judgement on them.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Observer

      Good for you. Too bad there aren't more Christians who feel as you do.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mr. Hat

      Well said sir!

      December 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      True believers are so content in their version of truth that they feel compelled to share that truth with others. In their mind, they are trying to spread joy. Besides, isn't there something in the New Testament that instructs Christians to proselytize? When representatives of any religion show up on my doorstep, even though I'm atheist, I try to treat them with kindness and respect, in hopes they'll do the same for me.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  16. Erik

    Why are some Christians bringing up Christmas? I don't think very many atheists care that people celebrate Christmas...most of us celebrate it too. In my lifetime, Christmas has held very little religious symbolism for most American families. It may have started as a Christian holiday, but it's really just not one anymore. Sorry.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Actually, it was originally a pagen soltice celebration, in thanks that the days would start getting longer. Christianity appropriated it as a celebration of the birth of Christ, who by historical records was actually born sometime in what would become the month of March.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Mea culpa, didn't proofread that. Pagan. Solstice. Sorry for sounding like an illiterate buffoon.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  17. IAgreeTotally

    The irony of this article for me was when I said "Oh my God" out loud. This is a thing that I've faced my whole life. My entire family is from Texas and Louisiana and they were evangelical before that term existed as it does today. To this day I hold a little fear of going to visit and hearing "God is good" et. al... every few words of every conversation, not to mention the awkwardness of actually going to church (when in Rome, it's just easier to get along) not knowing any of the words to the hyms. Anyway the larger issue for me is the limitations black people put upon each other in terms of what is acceptable behavior, dress, and beliefs (and or habits). Don't believe it, try being a black heavy metal music fan in the 1980's. Even white people were shocked by that one. Spread a healthy dose of I don't really believe in god on top of that and you've got yourself a bona fide outcast among the generally marginalized. Anyway, it's kind of amazing to see time actually allocated to telling this story. How the hell did that happen anyway?

    December 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Pritka

      Just one more reminder for me NOT to categorize people I don't personally know.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  18. wimanf

    Long ago, one of the most outstanding kings said this, "The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good. ", King David.
    I do think that atheists should brag about their unbeliefs. They should be on their knees asking God to open their closed eyes so that they can avoid eternal fire. If you are an atheist, just ask God if you are real, then reveal yourself to me. Then see what will happen.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      That's just, like, your opinion, man.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Debbie

      Sounds like you've been doing some serious mushroom-related introspection. There is a fair amount of evidence that the original Christians did, too. That explains a lot.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Observer

      wimanf,

      You can't prove that God exists anymore than atheists can prove God doesn't exist. Quit trying to force your "beliefs" on others.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • DefyTheGods

      How can anyone be a sincere believer with the threat of damnation hanging over their head? Can't God see through that?Ultimately, it seems, believers simply want to avoid hell. I'm an atheist, and I brag about nothing. Your King David has no clue of who I am! I don't keep score of my "good" deeds. I simply strive to better myself, so that I can help my fellow man in what little way I can. I don't care about ANY reward! Likewise, I learn from my mistakes in life. Learn from me, as I learn from you. Your King David assumes that ALL human beings are sheep? This is true of only some of us. We wonder why people grow more defiant of religion. If fear is your only tool, then you will only succeed in insulting people's intelligence. As an atheist, my understanding of Christianity is that God has no damnation to give anyone; that God is love. Does your "God" want to be loved or feared? If we're created in HIS image, the answer is obvious. Our history speaks for its self.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Bob

      wimanf, you've just presented one of the reasons why I think your religion is sickening. Your supposedly loving god purportedly threatens people with awful torture if they so much as doubt his existence. That says your god is an ass-hole.
      Any modern human court would consider such punishment barbaric, to say the least. And the threats of torture purportedly by your god actually consti-tute criminal assault.

      That's one very nasty god you've made for yourself there. So, you can keep your sicko Christan supersti-tions and your ass-hole of a god to yourself. Silently, please.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Wimaf, Thats exactly what a muslim would say to you

      December 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      King David didn't even know me. I'm an atheist, and my deeds are about as far from vile as they can get. I don't need belief in an old white bearded man in the sky, or fear of his wrath, or fear of eternal burning, to force me to behave towards others with kindness and empathy. You Christians who believe you have a lock on the moral compass thing make me sad. Your ignorance is truly stunning.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Daniel

      Wow! I tried your suggestion and I saw god! She is such a nice Lesbian! 🙂

      December 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  19. baj4q

    Where one man sees God, another sees nothing at all. Why can't people just leave it at that? It is impossible to tell what the world looks like through another man's eyes. Why can't people just live and let live?

    December 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Atheists will live and let live when Christians learn that their antiquated, misogynistic and hom0phobic beliefs belong in CHURCH, not the US government.

      This goes for Jews/Muslims/Hindus as well, but as an American the only ones I have to contend with are Christians. And they are more than enough.

      Christians cannot live and let live because they believe that they have a divine mandate to spread the "Word", no matter how sick and twisted and ultimately evil that "Word" is.

      Ahhh humans. What silly apes we are, floating on our rock in this vast expanse of beautiful emptiness.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Debbie

      Because many Christians have a self-imposed religious duty to foist all their beliefs on everybody through laws.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Ben

      But if I can't force you to admit my belief system is right how will I know it is right?

      December 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      You Christians like to think that atheists are just naturally rude and angry when in fact we are reacting to a world that discriminates us and is shoved in our face every second. When you realize this you will understand why we are so upset. Im sure you would be upset if a muslim called your daughter a wh0re because she doesn't wear a burka. That is just one example. In reality we are being oppressed by your ilk and we reserve the right to speak up.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Ok then why do you insult other religions who are also being oppressed, dude don’t try to play the victim your just hate full,.. from what I remember Buddha all about live and let live they have never attacked you but you go at them,..the only ones Buddha has attacked is us Shintoist over are um swindling witch we have changed because of their scrutiny

      December 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      I have never heard of an atheist disparaging Buddhism.

      Further, Buddhism is a philosophy, not an official religion. Buddhists do not worship Buddha as a god, they merely view him as a great teacher.

      I think you're grasping for straws.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      Sam, the fact that you said that shows how clueless and lost you are. So 9/11 was just a fantasy? THe beheadings of Pagans by Christians. The genocide and torture of Indigenous peoples? I could go on for a while listing the disgusting acts your people have perpetrated. The fact that you even have the gall to say that after all that we are the oppressors by speaking out against your disgusting atrocities is beyond reprehensible. You spit in the face of all the innocent victims you tortured and killed. All the knowledge that your people destroyed as well. Your comment just makes me disgusted with you. Your ignorance and your inhumanity. I think you should be locked up away from good people.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      I just can't believe what Sam said. I am so disgusted with you. I reserve as much disgust for you as I do Holocaust deniers. Please seek help.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  20. F Daniel Gray

    Are the buddhists (have no God), Hindus(have several deities), and the indigenous peoples of the Asian, African "continents, and the South Pacific, all going to "hell?" What an arrogant "debate" this is.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      I particularly like how Christians claim that their faith is "humble" and then arrogantly and narcissistically claim that only people who believe in the exact same narrow definition of Christianity are "worthy" of Heaven and that everyone else deserves to go to Hell.

      Basically, Christians don't act like Christ. They worship the Bible, ignore what Jesus said and then use him as their meal ticket into Heaven.

      And then they scream at me that I'm intolerant when I politely disagree. Go figure.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:54 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.