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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. Feekoningin

    I absolutely believe Christianity is embraced more by Black women than men, and I also believe that atheism among Black Americans has always existed in higher measures than we know. In my own family, the men have tended toward atheism. And there have been many reports of how Black humanists and atheists often found their way back into the church - not because of some great revelation - but because they missed the fellowship and tradition.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  2. GodIsImaginary Dot Com

    C H R I S T A R D S

    December 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      HEY!

      Jewtards. muslitards.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  3. SCDad

    Jesus was copied after the mythological figure of Horus. Go here for a comparison to see what I mean:
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5b.htm

    December 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • matty

      lol.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Jim

      With the evidence that I have seen I believe Jesus was a real historical figure. However, I do not believe he was the son of God or whatever. Nor did he do anything supernatural.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      Jim,

      There's no record of a jesus Christ or whatever except in the bible and the earliest account was written 40 years after his stated death. For such a powerful figure there is nothing noted in Roman records, no death record, nothing. If he was so well known where's the record from his own society? All the other big names of government and popularity have various types of records.

      Jesus has nothing except stories written 40 years (a life time back then) after his death.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  4. HisNoodlyAppendage

    All religions are ancient, dated, ridiculous cults, based on non-reality, created by man. One day, all of them will be relegated to the dustbin of history! I have more respect for individuals that say "I believe in God" directly, without all the nonsense of religion and dogma.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  5. hello

    "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."

    Sooooo youre chosing not to believe in God because your 'ancestors' were forced into christianity?

    As a Mexican-American, does that mean I should start sacrificing young women & praying to multiple gods so as to make a point that 'my ancestors' werent always christians? ^%&$ off. what a cop out.

    the recent generations of african americans cling to christianity because it works for them. just like the percentage of christian born americans that convert to muslim (black or not)...its what works. leave it alone

    Make your OWN decisions based on what you believe in, not based on some deep-seated bitterness youve been taught by society.

    besides
    i dont care if youre athiest or not.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  6. melody

    thank you! I lived in south for seven years and it was outrageous that i didn't go to church every Sunday. My relationship with God is my business, no the fashion show called church in the south. Hence one of the many reason i moved up South

    December 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • melody

      excuse me Moved back up North

      December 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  7. Xtopher

    Jeffry Curtis' comment has to be one of the most idiotic things I've read in a long time.

    So, you have to believe in god to blasphemy his name?

    We grow up hearing these phrases as expletives, and we instinctually blurt them out...it's a simple as that. I doubt Mr. Curtis' intellect will be able to wrap his feeble mind around this, however.

    My mom always said "JIMINY CRICKET!!!" when she got frustrated, but I do not know if she belonged to some weird cult that worshiped at the altar of the cartoon character.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  8. HisNoodlyAppendage

    Most Americans are so stupid. They can't, or won't, think critically, so they turn to religin without question. Europe, on the other hand, has a much higher secular percentage, with agnostic and atheist populations that dwarf that of America.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • dogs rule

      Most Americans can spell "religion". duh

      December 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      I'd love to see a timeline on when America and Europe parted ways on this issue. long live Zeus, my true father

      December 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  9. André

    God is imaginary.
    Believing in imaginary beings is a delusion.
    A delusion is a mental disorder.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      Santa Claus IS REAL!!!!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Joot

      God doesn't exist? Hmmmm. Prove it. (To do so will test your definition of God and the credibility of the source of your knowledge of God's existence or non-existence.)

      December 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • James

      The burden of proof lies with those who think he is real

      December 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  10. Slappy Gillis

    Then would it be equally bad to be white, god fearing, and living in the North?

    December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • James

      Well it wouldn't be as bad because atheists don't have the need to push their beliefs on others the way many religious groups do. However, many people would just shake their head and laugh at you.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I dunno about that. I know a lot of atheists that do try to push their beliefs on others. I keep my beliefs to myself unless I really know the people I'm speaking with. First of all, I don't want to offend anyone. Second, being an atheist can be scary at times. If others find comfort in their mythology, that's great. I can't lie to myself.

      December 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  11. Jean Jonas

    Where are the ATHEISTS? Ohhh! don't worry they're coming, and they're going to come out in great numbers according to the bible. The bible has never lied! Read this bible verse below:

    2 Timothy 3:2
    New American Standard Bible

    For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding

    December 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      I prefer the story of Peter Pan. Chapter 4 line 54: Yer a nut job.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • HisNoodlyAppendage

      The Bible was written by MORTAL MEN you fool.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Aezel

      Right. Because a 2000 year old book of fairy tales says it, it must be true. I pity you.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Dan

      You do realize that Atheists tend to act more Christian than Christian themselves. Of all the developed nations, crimes are consistently lower in nations with a majority atheist population.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • dogs rule

      You really ARE a nut job. Seriously

      December 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Joe

      You just described a typical so-called "christian" republican presidential candidate quite nicely.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Madtown

      Thanks for specifying which version of the bible you got your verse from. That's an important point, because different versions of the bible say things differently, or say different things altogether. Can hardly be the "word of God", when there are different versions saying different things, right? God is the supreme being. His word would need no translation, no different version, no correction or editing. The bible is the word of man, albeit about God.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Jim

      Who cares?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If The Babble is the inerrant word of (some) god, why is there a "New American Standard Bible?"

      December 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  12. Believe It

    How do I know that god isn't real?

    Because he seems to hate all the same people YOU do.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • mrb

      God does not hate.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Isn't that the definition of a religion?

      December 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  13. QS

    "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."

    Not that weird for those who understand the true nature of religious people who, while claiming they aren't constantly pushing their religion down our throats, will look at you like an alien if you tell them you don't believe.

    Their reaction of disbelief demonstrates that while they may reluctantly accept that this country allows people to believe differently than them, the indoctrination is so complete that when they encounter somebody who actually does it results in them becoming automatically defensive....as if just the simple notion of another believing that way is an 'attack' on their beliefs.

    The problem with modern religion that I can see (one of the problems) is that what people are SUPPOSED to learn in church – like treating others as you would want to be treated – is unfortunately not what most people learn. Most people learn in church not how to be good to others, but why others are bad and need to be 'saved'.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Michaeltanino

      My wife was raised Catholic and they were surrounded by Catholics. When we first started dating someone told her I was an atheist. My (now) wife asked; "What is an atheist?" When that person told her that I didn't believe in God she told me later that she didn't even know people didn't believe in God. It was so engrained in her head her whole life, she had no clue that people existed that don't believe in God. She thought it was really weird! Luckily she isn't the judgmental type and took the new information in stride.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  14. hippypoet

    We believe in one God,
    the Father, the Almighty SUN,
    Creator of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen.
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    Through him all things were made.
    For us and for our salvation
    he came down from heaven:
    by the power of the Holy LIGHT WAVES
    he became incarnate from the Merry people,
    there will be no judging the living and or the dead,
    and his kingdom will have no end.

    We believe in the LIGHT, the Lord, the giver of life,
    With the SUN he is worshiped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophet Hippypoet.
    We believe in one holy SUN and Church of eternal LIGHT.
    We will look up towards the heavens,
    bathe in the LIGHT OF THE LORD, THE ALMIGHY SUN.

    AMEN.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Michaeltanino

      The carbon that our bodies are made up of are created in the furnace of stars. So a star had to die so that we could live. Forget Jesus.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  15. Richard Dawkins

    It is so sad that the SANE people in the world get flack for not believing in invisible people. There are low IQs and there are high IQs. People with higher IQs do not believe in ridiculous delusional fairy tales.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Aezel

      I really wouldn't say it is IQ, if we are talking about traditional definitions of "IQ." Even some very otherwise intelligent people compartmentalize their thinking, chosing to function sanely in every other aspect but then having insane religioius beliefs.

      In fact the default mode for our brains is compartmentalization, it is what allows us to have conflicting logic. That really leads me to think that atheists do posess some sort of "intellect" that is beyond most people to intellectually rise above that and be able to objectively assess religious belief in a wholistic manner and reject it as the utter nonsense that it is. Most people are just frankly not capable of this type of thinking process.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • HisNoodlyAppendage

      EXACTLY! Thank you Richard. I love your book, 'The God Delusion', by the way!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Dave

      You mean ridiculous fairy tales like evolution?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Me

      Check it out. The answer you are looking for is here: http://www.access-jesus.com/fool-thinks-himself-wise.html

      December 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      Aezel,

      That is well stated.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Observer

      Dave,
      "You mean ridiculous fairy tales like evolution?"

      Nah. We're talking about talking serpents, unicorns, and a 600-year-old man building a ship big enough to hold hundreds of thousands of animals and months of food.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Michaeltanino

      @ Richard, that isn't necessarily true. There are intelligent people who believe in God. Many are more intelligent than myself, but I do not believe they are more intelligent in this particular point.

      @Dave, Evolution is not a fairy tale and you saying that it is really makes you look daft. It is a proven scientific theory supported by mountains of evidence gathered for over a hundred years that successfully predicts future discoveries, is useful to medicine, and has not once been falsified despite being able to test in in numerous fields of science. Not only does the fossil record support it, but so does our DNA. Google videos on the ERV, the Endogenous Retrovirus as one indisputable evidence for Evolution.

      Nah, who am I kidding, you won't possibly take that information into your skull and recognize it for the strength it has. You're brainwashed. I can comfortably say that because I've encountered THOUSANDS of people saying what you've said and not one has overcome their brainwashing to accept the facts.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  16. OrionStyles

    Ultimately this is a pro libertarian article for people who understand libertarianism.

    The tyranny of the majority is a problem when the tyranny of the minority "elite" caste is looking to misdirect some of its deserving apathy.

    "Grrr! You bankers stole my life with your fractional reserve banking!"
    "Look out Tea-Partier, you have a BLACK ATHEIST NEIGHBOR!"

    Now libertarians must try to solve this puzzle. How do we get rid of all this nonsense, so we can all have a positive experience for any given life?

    December 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Joe

      Libertarians are great except when they apply their philosophy do the economy. They don't seem to realize that "no rules" in the economic sector leads to disasters. Unregulated capitalism simply does not work.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  17. Ani

    Black, atheist and living in the Belt. Damn, that's some combination, Bro. Good luck...

    December 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  18. Ethel Shelton

    God is a loving God. He gives us choices. God want you either hot or cold. No Lukewarm for him. If you choose to be a Christian, so be it. If you choose to not believe in God, you have that choice. I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN GOD and hope one day many of you non-believers will realize what a loving God we have.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins

      @Ethel, you are one of the people that needs therapy. THERE IS NO INVISIBLE MAN WATCHING YOUR EVERY MOVE.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • streetsmt

      Atheism is not a choice. If we don't believe it's Gods fault for not providing enough evidence. He is supposed to be able to do that, right?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • J

      You mean that same loving "God" that decided to make flawed humans and then blame them for his own mistakes? The one who allows untold suffering and atrocities to be committed everyday worldwide? Yeah, that sounds like the kind of deity that's deserving of worship. Perhaps if you utilized the ability to think logically and with reason that you believe "God" has given you, you would come to the conclusion that it is an utterly absurd belief. It must be nice to live with such a distorted view of reality.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • dogs rule

      Where do you suppose your loving god was on 9/11? On holiday perchance?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Hmmm

      @dogs rule it doesn't matter how terrible something happens, God still gives humans a choice. if someone kills someone else, where was God? right there but it doesn't mean he controls us like little puppets. we can do whatever we want

      December 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      die

      December 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Herman

      "God want you either hot or cold. No Lukewarm for him."

      So, Ethel, are you saying that the loving God's eternal torture will be WORSE for those who wrestle with belief than for those who, for rational reasons, outright reject belief?

      December 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  19. Kim

    Do athiests realize that most Christians, Jews, Muslim, and other religious people really don't care what they do or don't believe in. Sorry you feel victimized by having to see Christmas displays in the mall going up in October (which no one really seems to like, Christian or not) but honestly no one cares what you don't believe in. If you don't like people trying to convert you everytime you leave the house move out of the Bible Belt. The only people who care that you're athiests are the crazy ones, like the minister who wanted to burn Koran's, but since most of us aren't crazy (and don't vote with our Bibles despite whatever you may choose to believe) we really don't care that you don't believe in anything and we have no interest in converting you because we just don't care enough to.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Observer

      "Do athiests realize that most Christians, Jews, Muslim, and other religious people really don't care what they do or don't believe in".

      So you guys will stop trying to force your religion on others and stop using it to deprive others of equal rights?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Kim

      No one's doing that, most Chrsitians don't vote with their Bibles...did you miss that part? I'm a Christian, I know lots of Christian, Jews, and Muslims who support gay marriage and abortion rights. Your issue is with close minded Republicans, not Chrisitians

      December 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      So says you. You don't speak for everyone.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • ramicio

      How is having to hear about Christmas and other stuff forcing anything on you? When you want that stuff gone, it shows more that you are forcing your views on them. No one is taking your right to practice what you do because of their display of their faith. They're not even doing anything to stop you from displaying your lack of faith. Actually, you do follow a faith. A faith that nothing beyond this life exists. From what I see, the atheists seem to think everyone should dump their right to their theistic religion because it doesn't meet their views.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Richard Dawkins

      "If you don't like people trying to convert you everytime you leave the house move out of the Bible Belt"

      What a well thought out response. Your ignorance is showing

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Kim

      I know it's more entertaining to believe what the loud mouth miniority believes but honestly most of us really don't care. Get over it, you're not victims. If you want to be victimized for being athiests move to the Iran.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Observer

      Kim,

      Yes, a lot of Christians do not follow the Republican platforms. That doesn't change the fact that the vast majority of Christian churches do not support gay marriage and abortion.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Kim

      If you don't like Christmas don't go shopping for a month. The endless Christmas specials are a commercial thing, if you have an issue with it write an angry letter to Macy's or something. And they don't call it the Bible Belt beacuse they're all Muslims. I live in the Northeast, I've never heard of anyone complaining about having religion forced down their throat.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Now if you only cared a little less, we wouldn't have to read such gibberish.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • iheartyou

      "we really don't care that you don't believe in anything and we have no interest in converting you because we just don't care enough to".... funnies thing I read yet. Well, Kim, I'm glad that you feel that way but can you please pass that sentiment on to the rest of your ilk? Because if i get one more "god is lord" pamphlet left on my front porch, or if one more "let me save your soul" believer knocks on my door to talk about their god i think i'm just going to have to go postal.

      If you really think that "we have no interest in converting you" then you're living in a fantasy land because the vast majority of religious people do not share that thought. But really, i'm glad that there is at least one religious person out there that doesn't believe in shoving their religion on others. Bravo, Kim.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Joe

      Are you kidding me? Most atheists have absolutely no problem with Christmas, or any other holiday people want to celebrate. I could best be described as atheist and i think Christmas is great. It's a lovely holiday with rich traditions. Christmas decorations are delightful. I don't feel offended by them at all. What i get offended at are stupid people who think they can tell me how to live my life and insist that i must believe in their delusions. Well WAKE UP folks – free thinkers very rarely surrender their freedom of thought and trade it for a delusion. Once an atheist, there is really no going back. So stop trying to "convert" us.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • JNO

      "move out of the bible belt"? yeah, that's about the most ridiculous thing i've heard all day....ur a real bright one there... "bless your heart" 🙂

      December 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • mrb

      @Kim. I have to disagree with you only to say that A true Christ follower does care about the unsaved. I care that there are lost people who do not know Christ. I used to be one of those people. I am now living a life glorifying God! I do not have rules that I follow, I do not shove my belief down other's throats because a true Christ follower doesn't have to. All I can say is I was involved in witnessing my best friend murdered in front of my face, a gun pointed at my head, I can tell you I was living a life of sin, and by sin I mean allowing drink to control my life rather than praising God. That night I turned my life over to God and today, I do not make any more money than I did back before this happened I work at the same job, live at the same place but there is something different about me and my life! I am happy, I am living for God and His plan for my life! but I do not have to tell anyone this because they see it. I am called to spread Gods word and bring others to Him ...not a cult, not a weird thing simply happiness because He Loves Us!
      I feel sad about those saying mean and nasty things about God. I don't understand the hatred for Christians or God. If you don't believe that is your choice but those who do are not out to hurt you with words like a non believer will do. I still pray for those who do not follow Christ, I still smile and love them. I pray for those who shot my friend because they are lost also. I pray they will find God and all He can provide. I have friends who do not follow Christ, I do not belittle them, or disrespect them but they often ask me, what is it about me that is different, it is God!

      December 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  20. jeffery curtis

    if these poeple do not belevie in God then why do they say things like "oh my God" or when they get mad they say "jesus Christ" or God Dam it" if they dont beleive why do they say things like that you dont here Christians saying "oh my devil" or "devil" or "devil dam it" those are not thing's we say so if you dont beleive in my savior or my Father then stop using his name

    December 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • dp

      why does it bother you? why can't people just say whatever they want to say? Do you think that because he says those things that it will directly effect you?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Dan

      Nice strawman. It's a figure of speech, get over it.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Analyze common phrases and profanity and then you'll be able to answer your own question.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Matt

      Wow! You need to take a course in linguistics or philosophy of language. At the very least you need to think before you post. This has to be one of the stupidest statements I have ever see someone post. It is almost too weak an argument to respond to. Of course, there are linguistic saying that are based in metaphor or cultural interpretation and not actually referring to an existing thing. We can speak of Santa Claus or Godzilla without believing they exist, can we not? Think before you post...

      December 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Fellow Christian

      Hey Jeff, you gotta admit, and we're culpable as well, but those often-used phrases have all been trivialized so much, they get cranked out by any and everyone out of habit. It's perfunctory. I'm not telling you how the feel, but pretty much all of those phrases are using the lord's name in vain, so none of us should be doing it. My point is, it's fruitless to build the case on the exclusivity of those expressions, like.. they aren't apart of the "christian club" so they can't say it type of thing. None of us should.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Xtopher

      Jeffry Curtis' comment has to be one of the most idiotic things I've read in a long time.

      So, you have to believe in god to blasphemy his name?

      We grow up hearing these phrases as expletives, and we instinctually blurt them out....it's a simple as that. I doubt Mr. Curtis' intellect will be able to wrap his feeble mind around this, however.

      My mom always said "JIMINY CRICKET!!!" when she got frustrated, but I do not know if she belonged to some weird cult that worshiped at the altar of the cartoon character.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Jim

      I am going to presume your questions are serious instead of condescending.

      Language is partially metaphorical. Neurologists have demonstrated one of the most effective means of learning and communicating is through metaphors. Christian referencing metaphors have established meaning that is known to all. As a result it is often efficient to use these metaphors in communications with everyone who understands them, whether they believe in the faith or not. As a result those who don't believe often assign the same meaning to the metaphors. For example 'Oh, my God!', a common metaphor, carriers a meaning of surprise understood by all. The metaphors of other faiths have translated into common times even in cases where the faith ceases to be practiced. This is most common in brand names. 'Ajax' is the name of cleaning product which implies strength. 'Saturn' was the name of a car company the name of which is associated with an ancient ruler of gods.

      By the way Christians believe int he devil, not atheists. If someone were to go around saying 'Oh, my devil' or 'devil dam(n) it' I would assume they were Christian, devil worshipers, insane, or just trying to get attention. I would not assume they were atheists. Either you misunderstand your own logic or you assume all atheists worship the devil.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      I'm an aetheist.

      jeffery curtis dam it. god dam it. Zeus dam it. Unicorn dam it. Santa Claus dam it. Rock dam it. Dam dam it.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Rob Anderson

      Hey Dude how do you know god is he and not a she? Remember the bible is dogma not fact. Thought dog ma. A dogs mother!!!

      December 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
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About this blog

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