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January 19th, 2012
05:27 PM ET

'Hate religion, love Jesus' video goes viral

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - With so many atheists coming out of the closet, it’s not difficult to imagine a video decrying religion racking up millions of hits on YouTube.

But a video along those lines has been viewed 15 million times and liked more than a quarter-million times since it was posted on January 10, featuring an enthusiastic young Christian from Washington state.

[youtube= http://youtu.be/1IAhDGYlpqY]

“What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?” 22-year-old Jefferson Bethke says in the video, reciting a spoken word poem he wrote. “What if I told you getting you to vote Republican really wasn’t his mission?”

“I mean if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?” he says later. “Why does it build huge churches but fail to feed the poor?”

Bethke's video is emerging as a symbol for many young evangelical Christians who are calling themselves “followers of Jesus” rather than overtly identifying with institutional Christianity. Many of the country's fastest-growing churches are nondenominational.

“Religion is man-centered,” Bethke writes in a post accompanying his YouTube video. “Jesus is God-centered.”

In the video, Bethke talks about what he calls his own spiritual rebirth, saying he went from being a self-righteous religious person to an admittedly deeply broken believer.

The video has provoked an avalanche of response, including other YouTube videos, like "Why I hate religion but love Jesus, Muslim Version" and "Why I Dislike Your Poem, But Love God," which includes these lines:

I see where you’re coming from but there’s insanity in your vision
You overlook the fact that Christianity is religion
You’re like the van who claims to hate diets
Or astrophysicists who reject laws of science.

That response video has itself been viewed 390,000 times. Not bad.

Many religious bloggers echoed that video’s criticism on Bethke, alleging he’s trumpeting tenets of Christianity while purporting to blast organized religion. Critics called Bethke’s take on religion overly simplistic and dangerous.

“Anyone who does just a little digging on Bethke's YouTube channel or on Google will quickly learn that this young poet is a conservative Christian and member of the Mars Hill Church led by controversial pastor Mark Driscoll,” writes Patheos blogger Brian Kirk, a Missouri-based pastor. “All this seems to me an odd résumé for one who lambastes organized religion.”

Yet Kirk marvels at the national conversation that Bethke has provoked around deep questions:

Certainly one can agree or disagree with Bethke's take on religion but it's difficult not to admire the way he has stirred up those of us who may have been slumbering comfortably in our own faith without really thinking about why we do what we do. Some times the best way to wake up a sleeping giant is to poke it with a stick and Bethke has done just that.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity

soundoff (3,716 Responses)
  1. misty

    Terrii
    I was reared in the Church of Christ which is one of thousands of sects of Christianity. I have studied many of those sects and many non Christain religions. To deny the bible was created thru great violence would be a lie. I will get and read Whites book. It would have been helpful if the Ten Commandments said have no other gods before US. ME is singular. Your 7:04 comment about God ordering destruction of other groups is scary. In the present world many religions/organizations say they are representatives of God and want to kill all who do not agree with them. So which
    group is right? Which one do you belong to?

    January 22, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  2. Richard in Mexico

    Can anyone prove Jesus even existed?
    All that stuff about him was passed on by word of mouth - and any kid who's ever played "Telephone" can tell you how unreliable that is.

    January 22, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Reality

      From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

      "That Jesus was crucified (i.e.existed) under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

      “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

      “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

      “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

      I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

      See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

      Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

      Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

      There is also a search engine for this book on the right hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus

      See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

      From ask.com,

      "One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.

      Then there are these scriptural references:

      Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )

      Added suggested readings:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
      o
      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      January 22, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  3. misty

    Neither here nor there (atheist-christain) QUESTION: One of the Ten Commandments from the bible says "Have no other Gods
    before me" then the bible ends up with a man becoming his son and is worshiped as a god. I don't get it. Yet, there are times
    in my life I get comfort from this man Jesus and there is SOME music about Him and God that I love. ie A Mothers Prayer sung by
    Jackie Evanko and Susan Boyle-

    January 22, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • terrii

      Jesus did not "become" God's son. He was already God's son in heaven before He came to the earth to help enlighten man, who was dangerously "off-track" in religious practices. Read "The Great Controversy" by Ellen G. White to learn more.....

      January 22, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • terrii

      Also, per the Bible, the Godhead is a trinity, a three in one of Gods: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and the God the Holy Spirit. First God sent his Son to the earth and after the Son left the earth to return to Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit. Before attempting to study God's word, always pray and ask for assistance in understanding what you are reading because again, per the Bible, religious words cannot be understood by those who have their minds wrapped up with the things of this earth. I.e. Sports, entertainment, drugs, alcohol, etc.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • One one

      That commandment is god saying he does not believe in religious tolerance. He sends people to hell for not believing in him. I wouldn't worry about it. It's only a myth.

      January 22, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  4. RaptureNot

    Jesus is a religious construct, Bethke's conceptualization of Jesus and God is simply a melange of whatever he has absorbed from the written and culturally transmitted artifacts of organized religion and his own and others interpretations of same. For Bethke's contention that he somehow knows what Jesus is apart from the written and oral traditions of organized Christianity is a fatuous absurdity.

    January 22, 2012 at 6:17 am |
    • JeanV

      Actually, God dwells within us and we dwell within God.

      We don't need books or preachers or sermons to know God. We just have to be still and listen.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  5. Mike R

    Religion assumes authority over what is "right" or "wrong". If you really think about it, ANYTHING can be considered "good" or "evil", from specific points-of-view. But, if you think about it, ANYTHING that exists can be either of the two or both. All these labels that religious leaders use are the 0's and 1's to the programming and structure of our moral fabric in society. That responsibility doesn't just belong to religious leaders or politicians..... it belongs to every ONE of US.... So, it's up to everyone to program ourselves with "rightous ethics" (through church attendence?) so that we can each just live a moral and examplary life.

    January 22, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • terrii

      Despite all the creative ways that religion can be "spun", there is only one God. Therefore, the only right way, is His way.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    There is joy in prayer in the morning
    Pray early pray often
    Pray without ceasing with God
    All things are possible
    Prayer changes things

    January 22, 2012 at 6:08 am |
    • RaptureNot

      I wonder how many children were praying in Jonestown before the Rev. Jim Jones had them killed. God does seem rather selective about the prayers he decides to answer. Seen any amputees healed through prayer lately?

      January 22, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • terrii

      To RaptureNot: Why don't you carry that thought out just a little further......It sounds like your view of God is like a vending machine. He is only working and "valid" if He gives you and everyone else what they ask for. God sees the "big picture" and trusting God means continuing to trust Him even when you don't get what you want.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • One one

      I assume millions of devout believers pray for world peace every day. It doesn't seem to be doing much good.

      January 22, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  7. JeanV

    I knew this was Mars Hill double-speak before I even read the article. He makes some good points (e.g. Jesus didn't die so we could vote Republican - and enable the greed of the 1% and shower hate the sick, poor and unemployed.) But his affiliation with Mars Hill renders anything he says suspect. They are a cult and not in a good way - their position on women in the ministry is positively anti-Biblical and Neanderthal.

    January 22, 2012 at 6:02 am |
  8. miscreantsall

    MOST anything that man touches becomes corrupted.

    Man touched "spirituality" and created religion!!!!!

    Besides man himself……….religion is the most evil "thing" in the Universe and the "one god" religions are at the apex of hate.

    January 22, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • terrii

      I beg to differ....Christianity is made up of "one-God" religions and I don't know any of those that are hate based. Furthermore, the devil is most active in the churches because he knows that if he can show the non-Christian world that churches are a hoax in any way, shape or form, then there will be no chance that people like you will join and become followers of Christ. I challenge you to join a church and become part of the solution, rather than criticizing from the sidelines.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  9. Robin

    When Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist protested. Jesus answered that "it is good for us to fulfill righteousness," therefore supporting the notion that organized religion has a strong place within Christianity. However, Bethke is right on with his evaluation that being "religious" isn't enough to validify one's Christianity. It has to be lived, from the heart. Christ was very clear that many will be shocked when they are told "I never knew you!" referring to those who pretend to teach the gospel. We cannot take scripture and twist it to our own purposes, even with a strong point such as the one Bethke is trying to make. Judge not. . .and that was Jesus' point!

    January 22, 2012 at 5:27 am |
  10. the Pope

    More christians wanting the benefit of affiliation without any of the responsibility. This is simply an extension of the "he's not a real christian" apologetic. Christianity has stained it's reputation with centuries of violence, oppression and genocide. But people still like being christian so they just simply state they are not part of the religion and then go on to talk about the religious manual they all follow called the bible. It's a mental disease that plagues the weak minded.

    January 22, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • JeanV

      Not every Christian sees the Bible as the literal word of God. Seeking to understand the true teachings of Christ by reading the Bible is a lot like trying to understand the lives of pre-historic humans by reading their abandoned camp sites using the science of paleontology.

      We can glean much, but not all - certainly not after all the re-writes and self-serving "translations" of ancient texts, real and forged, that have been made by very fallible, very human Popes and monks over the centuries.

      Seeking to know God through prayer and meditation is the best path for every individual.

      Also, remember this: Jesus brought us ONE new commandment that we know of: Love one another as I have loved you.

      Anyone who is not diligently working on following His one commandment has work to do.

      January 22, 2012 at 6:17 am |
    • terrii

      The old "Christianity is evil because Christianity has killed millions" argument.....If you read the Bible, there are many times that God commanded His people to destroy other groups of people through, gasp, violent means, because those people had rejected Him completely and were ruining the earth, which He had made. Yes, God sometimes uses violence as a means to cleanse the earth. Why don't you become educated about that which you are trying to speak of rather than relying on name calling, which takes virtually no intelligence or effort.

      January 22, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • Sue

      I am sorry...did I miss something? Who killed more people than any combined religions? Those without any moral guidance such as Pol Pot (2 million), Stalin and his cronies (61 million), Chinese (10 million), In sum the communist probably have murdered something like 110,000,000, or near two-thirds of all those killed by all governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987. Gee I guess hating those who love Jesus has a nice ring in those countries also.

      January 22, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  11. No Monkeys No Atheists

    "With so many atheists coming out of the closet, it’s not difficult to imagine a video decrying religion racking up millions of hits on YouTube."

    Apparently, the author of this article is trying to use it to hype atheism when it's NOT.

    The only reason that it goes viral because of the fact that the author of the video is NOT a self-proclaimed atheist or doesn't proclaim himself as an atheist (yet) but (still on a mask as) a Conservative Christian.

    What a clever monkey Bethke was and it worked well to further his agenda, once step at a time.

    But to tell him, he's not that good coz his tail peeks sneakly from him, and it shows.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:45 am |
  12. Barney

    Survey says that, that Christians comprise 33% of the earth's populace while Non-believers (agnostic, authists, I mean athesists, etc.) is only 16%. And more (hard) truth to the fact is that atheists only make up 2% of that 16% of non-belivers.

    High population of Christian in jail doesn't necessarily mean that they are bad people. On the other hand, low population of atheist ( in jail) doesn't automatically says that they are good people.

    It only clearly shows 2 things:

    1.) "That people are the same wherever you go, there's GOOD and BAD in EVERYWHERE. All we have to do is to learn to live, learn to give each other, what we need to survive, together alive"

    2.) That Christians is unarguably, undoubtedly and indisputably the VAST MAJORITY, while atheists is the VAST MINORITY. HERE THERE and EVERYWHERE.

    January 22, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  13. Positive outlook

    Well done, well said. Yes, it is for young people, but I am old and I see the merit in this. He spent time in writing and organizing this wonderful piece of rap art with a message. Please listen to the words; there is great meaning in the WORDS.

    January 22, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  14. John Chellemi

    This is a little kid video. It is impossibly naive. People cause wars, build churches, feed the poor, and do what they see fit. There will always be some form of mind control but don't let the fear of it control you.

    January 22, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  15. WALKINGLASS

    Jesus NEVER COMMANDED anyone to start a Christian RELIGION. RELIGIONS are nothing but SHEEPSKINS over a WOLF.

    Not one single time did Jesus EVER compliment ANY RELIGION, RELIGIOUS LEADERS, CRAFTED TEMPLES or the DEVIL. They are the same ***BALL OF WAX***.

    The Southern Baptist convention said their is 1,000 Christian RELIGIONS but all of them think the other 999 are wrong but theirs is right.

    None of them believe God inspired Luke 14:26, Acts 7:47-48 and Acts 17:24 'IN CONTEXT'. They LIE and weave the verses that their congregations do not like into a TAPESTRY OF LIES.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Paul Kearney

      Wow, there really is hope! Jesus came to show the hypocrisy of "man made" religions, and the examples of his opinion on them are legion. The best one, wit the most obvious message for all is when the priests and scribes asked Christ why his disciples were breaking the law of God by not purifying themselves, before eating, and whats more they were actually picking something to eat on the Sabbath. Jesus states, and yes I paraphrase, " You hypocrites! Why is it that you break so many of God's commandments, yet hold the traditions of your fathers in such high regards, that you teach them as doctrine?" This is a plain statement about how silly it is for man to seek to judge someone based on earthly standards, especially when only Jesus himself has the authority to judge anyone, He is the only moral authority.

      January 22, 2012 at 3:36 am |
  16. Scott A

    Bleh...a conservative Christian is a bad Christian. Jesus wasns't conservative. If he loves Jesus so much, then DO NOT be conservative. Be a good person.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Barney

      Survey says that, that Christians comprise 33% of the earth's populace while Non-believers (agnostic, authists, I mean athesists, etc.) is only 16%. And more (hard) truth to the fact is that atheists only make up 2% of that 16% of non-belivers.

      High population of Christian in jail doesn't necessarily mean that they are bad people. On the other hand, low population of atheist ( in jail) doesn't automatically says that they are good people.

      It only clearly shows 2 things:

      1.) "That people are the same wherever you go, there's GOOD and BAD in EVERYWHERE. All we have to do is to learn to live, learn to give each other, what we need to survive, together alive"

      2.) That Christians is unarguably, undoubtedly and indisputably the VAST MAJORITY, while atheist is the VAST MINORITY. HERE THERE and EVERYWHERE.

      January 22, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      "That Christians is unarguably, undoubtedly and indisputably the VAST MAJORITY, while atheist is the VAST MINORITY. HERE THERE and EVERYWHERE."

      And this would also have been true not to long ago:

      "That believers in a flat earth is unarguably, undoubtedly and indisputably the VAST MAJORITY, while you stupid round earthers are the VAST MINORITY. HERE THERE and EVERYWHERE."

      You are right about one thing though, the surveys you quote mean absolutely nothing as to the validity of any Deities existence.

      January 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Christopher Columbus

      As the song goes, "And now I found that the world is round."

      FYI...The frist one who proved that the world wasn't flat was a religious person.

      January 24, 2012 at 4:42 am |
  17. 50/50

    One thing that always amazes me about athiest is, No matter how much they hate religion, religious people, God, the thought of god, worship, worshiping a God and all of that worship entails, they still manage to celebrate Christmas and other religious holidays so that they can be merry and receive gifts. I personally believe that they dont want to be accountable to anybody or anything. On the other hand it also amazes me about religious persons... how many are so full of themselves, hypocrites, even faithless until something bad happens to them.

    I am confident that both sides are in error. You can never prove to a person that there is a God unless they want to actually see it. You can never prove to someone that they are doing wrong until they want to admit it.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Patrick C

      Christmas is hardly celebrated as a religious holiday. I think of Santa, gift giving, lights, tree, shopping before the thought of church even crosses my mind.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • 50/50

      @patrick...yea keep telling yourself that. You can do any of that fun stuff any day of the year but you choose that time. People dont want to be accountable, they just want to fit in and do the fun stuff! Mirror Time.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • dicerotops

      Atheists may dislike religion because of all the hate and violence it has caused, but they don't believe in God because there is no evidence of God. A very high proportion wishes that there was, that they could believe, that there was something more after they died. It would be far better to accept that there could be a heaven and they would see those they loved again than to believe that they would simply no longer exist. But you just can't force yourself to believe in something when there is no evidence for it.

      As for Christmas, its more than a religious holiday. It is a secular holiday as well now.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • dicerotops

      And at 50/50 – in a jail, the lowest population is atheist (highest is ironically Christian). Atheists do the right thing, not because they are accountable to some higher God, but because it is the right thing to do. The idea is that you have one life to live, and if you want to be treated well, then you need to treat others well. Its kind of sad that so many Christians say they are good only because of the accountability.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • WALKINGLASS

      Christmas is the holiday of LIARS. They teach their children to teach their grand children to learn to be little BALD FACED LIARS.

      They tell their children that there is a Santa but they do not tell them that it is Satan when unscrambled. Then they LIE and say his reindeer can fly.

      LIARS will LIE and say they do not LIE.

      They teach their children to help MURDER the 42,000 children that are dying of HUNGER and CONTAMINATED WATER by telling them to give TOTALLY USELESS gifts to the ones that Christ said to 'HATE' in Luke 14:26. Their daddy wants another Judas noose to hang in the closet with his other Judas nooses.

      Christ said to 'HATE' the members of their household in Luke 14:26 but they LIE and say He didn't mean what He said. He meant EXACTLY what He said but RELIGIOUS PEOPLE will LIE and say God inspired that verse 'OUT OF CONTEXT'.

      They will ALL join each other in the abyss and learn what HUNGER, THIRST and pain feels like FOREVER.

      Most MODERATORS HATE the TRUTH so they BLOCK THE TRUTH. ***WATCH THIS***.

      January 22, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • Barney

      @dicerotops

      "in a jail, the lowest population is atheist (highest is ironically Christian)."

      Speaking about populations, latest survey says that Christians comprise 33% of the earth's populace while Non-believers make (agnostic, authists, I mean athesists, etc.) is only 16%. And more (hard) truth to the fact is that atheists only make up 2% of that 16% of non-belivers.

      See? it's NOT ONLY in jail. Atheists is a VAST minority HERE, THERE and EVERYWHERE.

      January 22, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • 50/50

      You can stop yourself from celebrating christmas if you truly believed that it was wrong to celebrate it. Athiest do not believe in a diety to worship. Hence they dont go to church or proclaim to be worshipers. To walk around saying there is no god, but you act like there is for at least one day, by taking part in a celebration that is tied to worship, you are as hypocritical as those whom you accuse. You can say all day that it is a secular holiday and does not have much of a christian prescence all you want, but if any christian saw you celebrate it or one of your athiest friends saw you, they would believe you were a christian who believes in Jesus no matter how much commercialism is in it. Dont call people hypocrites if you are one also. That is one of the biggest arguments athiest have on religious persons....If you dont believe in God then dont act like it. If you believe in God then act like it.

      January 23, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • 50/50

      @dicerotops..first of all if you have ever read the bible you would understand that accountability to the creator is exactly what one of the main themes are of the bible. Starting from paradise on, the issue has been to worship and receive blessings. Do wrong and you will be not be able to have life according to Gods plan. Love of the creator should be the main focus of a persons motives in doing right, but there is an understanding of accountability.

      Also my direct knowledge of those who profess to be athiest has enlightened me to understand that they do have a hypocritical stance when it comes to religious holidays. They celebrate them and partake in them because of the fun and friendship that accustoms these celebrations. They may not believe in Jesus, but they sure let thier kids have a good time with Christmas instead of educating them and enforcing them with the same passion and hostility that they pronounce on these subject boards.

      January 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      "those who profess to be athiest has enlightened me to understand that they do have a hypocritical stance when it comes to religious holidays."

      Hmmm...

      Definition of HYPOCRITE
      1: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
      2: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

      So how again would an atheist celebrating Christmas make him a hypocrite? Unless he contradicts his belief by praying to your God I do not see how having present and performing any of the ritual would make them a hypocrite. On the other hand, I do see plenty of Christians putting on a false appearance of virtue...

      If an atheist tells you your God is false while chewing up your wafers and chugging your red wine does that make him a hypocrite? No, it makes him less hungry.

      January 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • 50/50

      @Anatomically Bombed.. thankyou for proving my point with your definitions. And I totally agree that christians who profess to be holy and engage in obvious sins(serious sins) are just as bad if not worse. Jesus himself exposed hypocracy with those who were religious while in Jerusalem and even at trial.

      But the argument that most athiest use in denying Christianity or any religious belief is that most Christians are led blindly by faith and serve with hypocracy. By accepting and participating in an obvious religious holiday, but then claim to not believe in anything associated with that event accept the commercialism it brings, exposes that person as someone who is confused with thier own feelings. It maybe easy and even appear educated to declare that there is no God, but convince yourself in all of it by obstaining from any association with it.

      You cant have your cake and eat it to...wheither you are athiest or religious....not if you want to be credible!

      January 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  18. layne arnold

    the good thief is a decent argument for a less complicated version of christianity. It's a story that unless poeple project dogma and add biographical details to the thief, it would appear christianity endorses just being able to recognise good as being good enough. Certainly the concept of god seems to have mutated from its possible original concept and christianity would be served by locating its battle for its soul at the concept of god rather than getting caught in secondary issues.
    As an atheist, many atheists try very hard to control the definition of god so it plays to our logic. Attempting to control the terms by which you are evaluated is logical.

    January 22, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • 50/50

      actually Layne, the belief that there is not a God is what has mutated from all belief systems. Certainly secular history as well as discoveries in past society`s belief systems has demonstrated always a belief in a divine diety. Here in the United States within the last 60-70 years the privilege of speaking your mind and doing your thing has produced more of an athiestic concept. People who are athiest are compelled not to believe in something that they cannot see, because they have been able grow that feeling and thought process. You will not find a more populated group of athiest than in the United States and europe. not because people are smarter, but because they are allowed.

      The mutation of Athiesm has advanced only because you NOW have a right to think differently.

      January 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Mary Jane

    "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours"

    – Stephen Roberts

    January 22, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • layne arnold

      Most of us have ideas of good that exist independently of belief. we had moral tastes prior to coming up with the reasons justifying them. That is, ethical tastes, are more essential to our being than the reasons we have propped up around them. If we referred to these things a being 'god', we would register as theists. We like to project a particular idea of god as some version of Jupiter, rather than acknowledge that is realistically an abstract concept (a collection of ideas, ideal types, etc). We are often willfully obtuse in our criticisms of religion.- – the god we like to condemn is often a trite corruption of the thing that many more intelligent theists advocate.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  20. The Thinker

    Lets see here – Christianity in its early days, however pure, from the start of its "invention" is nothing but that, Invention. So they didnt want to be seen as a occult so therefore turned into religion. This "jesus" character was a man – so therefore Christianity is a man-made faith system. Comes with rules yet they say "He can set you free"! Free of what? Its hypocrisy. Just like the Catholic Church murdering Protestants because they werent the same. Same goes for Christianity and Muslims – both sides of the spectrum had their own and still do, religious wars.

    January 22, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • 50/50

      Everybody becomes religious during war.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • layne arnold

      not convinced that a purely invented religion is a problem – it would seem to be an expression of agency and meaningmaking. The assertion that religion is purely made up would seem like one of the better arguments for it.

      January 22, 2012 at 1:39 am |
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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.