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Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital
American Atheists president David Silverman in Washington, planning for Saturday's rally.
March 23rd, 2012
11:04 AM ET

Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Sitting in a chilly hotel hospitality suite in a suburban Maryland hotel, David Silverman plans his attack. As the frequently quoted president of the American Atheists and a constant thorn in the side of religious organizations, attack mode comes easily to him.

At the moment, it isn’t the religious right or the “horribly misinformed,” a term Silverman uses for certain religious people, that are in his sights. Rather, it’s a menu.

“Spinach or Caesar salad?” Silverman, 45, asks to no one in particular. His dinner guests, a logistics consultant, a Marriott hotel representative and Silverman’s new administrative director, eat through a few courses before discussion turns to dessert.

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“In the beginning, God created chocolate,” Silverman says, his eyes scanning the table for reaction.

Laughter ensues. But this is a business meal. From choosing salads for a fundraising dinner to studying the timing of the Washington transit system, Silverman has been spending less time recently on the big question of God’s existence and more time immersing himself in the nitty-gritty of planning what he promises will be the largest-ever atheist gathering.

On Saturday, Silverman hopes that from 10,000 to 20,000 atheists, agnostics, doubters and secularists of all stripes to converge on the National Mall in Washington for what his group calls the Reason Rally.

Silverman is especially proud of the event’s speaker’s list, dropping names like a proud father. He beams when noting that the man he calls “Dawkins” – Richard Dawkins, the scientist and author of “The Blind Watchmaker” and “The God Delusion” – will headline the rally.

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“We have people busing in from as far west as Ohio, as far south as Florida and as far north as Maine,” Silverman says. The weekend will also play host to the American Atheists’ annual convention, to be held at the Maryland Marriot where Silverman is debating salad options.

Silverman is billing the weekend as a watershed movement in the atheist “coming out,” of recent years.

“We want people to know we are huge, we’re everywhere, and we are growing,” he says. “The goal is to advance the position of atheists in America.”

A nice guy combatant

Silverman, a professional inventor at Bell Labs who has 74 patents under his name in the area of telecommunications infrastructure, worked his way up the ladder at American Atheists.

He started as a volunteer in New Jersey in 1996, moved up to be the state’s director and then jumped from national spokesperson to vice president. In 2010 he became president of the organization, which counts 4,000 members, has a $750,000 annual budget and has become the organizational face of a burgeoning American movement of atheists.

Silverman has taken the group in a much more outspoken direction, reflecting a national trend among atheists.

“Ed is extremely intelligent, better educated than I am… I think I have more fire than he had,” Silverman says of his predecessor at American Atheists, Ed Buckner. “It shows itself in the billboards; it shows itself in the press; it shows itself in our corporate attitude.”

In November 2010, weeks before Christmas, American Atheists placed a billboard at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel that showed the three wise men heading to Bethlehem with the message “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.”

The sign earned national media attention and stirred so much controversy that it prompted the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil rights to respond with a pro-Christmas billboard at the New York end of the Lincoln Tunnel. “You Know It's Real,” the sign said. “This Season Celebrate Jesus.”

Silverman says that atheist billboards started popping up in the 1970s but then mostly disappeared until the Secular Coalition for America started raising billboards around the country several years ago.

Silverman has taken the billboards to an aggressive new level. Earlier this month, his group paid $30,000 to post two billboards - one in heavily Muslim Patterson, New Jersey, and another in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood - that read “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice.”

The signs were admittedly in your face, says Silverman – all the more so because they were in Arabic and Hebrew.

“What I am doing is not giving religion respect that it wants but it doesn’t deserve,” Silverman said. “I respect people; I respect humans. I do not respect religion. And I do not respect the idea that religion deserves respect.”

That attitude has made Silverman a bogeyman for religious groups, especially conservative ones who discern a secular assault on American religion.

“These people are vicious is what they are,” says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. “They stand for nothing. Their only existence is to be against people of faith.”

And yet some of his faith-based enemies say Silverman treats them with respect. Donohue says Silverman “is a nice enough guy” and that on the occasions they’ve met, the atheist organizer displayed geniality and a sense of humor.

Alex McFarland, the Christian director of Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, holds regular public debates with Silverman about God and the place of religion in American culture. Though they “disagree on God and a lot of the great issues of life,” McFarland says, he has “great respect for David Silverman.”

“I enjoy dialoguing with people like him that are misguided,” McFarland says. “I feel a duty to give a response to people that are holding positions that undermine the fabric of our liberties and freedoms.”

Silverman speaks highly of sparring partners like Donohue and McFarland. “I don’t see them as evil people, I see them as wrong people,” Silverman says.

But he believes they overlook one major aspect of atheism – that its numbers are growing.

Atheists have long pointed to surveys that suggest atheists and agnostics make up between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population. That number increases when Americans unaffiliated with any religion are included. The Pew Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 16% are unaffiliated, though only a fraction of those are avowed atheists and agnostics.

“Atheism is growing in all 50 states,” Silverman says. “What people don’t seem to understand is all we demand at American Atheists is equality. We don’t want the obliteration of religion; we don’t want religion wiped off the face of the earth.”

From Hebrew school to disbelief

As a kid in Massachusetts, Silverman was the only atheist he knew. “I’ve been an atheist all my life,” he says. “When I was a kid, I had to get on a bike, I had to ride 2 miles to the library to find the one book that had to do with atheism.”

Silverman was raised Jewish. His parents sent him to Hebrew school and he had a bar mitzvah, even after telling his mother that he did not believe in God.

“I remember it clearly, getting up on stage and everybody in my life was in front of me. Everyone,” Silverman says, recalling his bar mitzvah. “And I stood up there, and I looked everyone in the eye, and I lied. I lied. And I hated it.”

For Silverman, it was a turning point, a moment when he resolved not to lie about his disbelief. “It was one of those experiences… it saddened me,” Silverman says, the disgust showing as he contorts his face. “And I didn’t really do anything about it. I just did it.”

Silverman studies computer science at Brandeis University, a predominantly Jewish school that helped him cement his non-belief and honed his debating skills.

“I was the fodder of debate,” Silverman says. In the lunchroom, he proudly used the non-Kosher trays and relished debates with religious friends.

“Even the people who had gone to school to become rabbis could not put together a reason to believe in God,” Silverman says.

At Brandeis, Silverman met his future wife, Hildy. “Very early on when we dated, it was more of an issue because I was Orthodox and he was atheist,” Hildy laughs. “We were actually apart for a few years because we couldn’t see how that would work.”

Two years after graduation though, Hildy called him and said that she was doubting her religion and needed a non-religious weekend. Silverman picked her up from the airport and six months later the “mixed” couple, as Silverman calls them, was married.

“Religion is not a factor in our lives to the point that is causes strife,” Silverman says. Hildy stills attends Orthodox synagogue sporadically.

“I am a very strong supporter of separation of church and state,” she says. “My husband has no problem with people believing what they believe. I am proof of that. He just doesn’t want it foisted on him. And I am totally in line with that.

“I think he is extremely brave in what he does,” she says.

The couple has one child, 14-year-old Rayanne. She was introduced to Judaism at a young age and attended a Hebrew school in New Jersey. When it came time to plan for a bat mitzvah, however, Rayanne let her parents knew the truth.

She didn’t want one. She was an atheist.

Silverman says he didn’t want his daughter to be an atheists just because he is, but his pride in her decision is clear. For him, she is the future of atheism.

“I am very confident that we will win within 20 years,” he says. “I am saying that we will have a substantially more equal presence in 20 years.”

No issue too small

Back at the hotel, Silverman has turned his focus from the monotony of salads and soups to more pressing issues.

“What are we going to do about the Bibles in the room,” Silverman asks the obviously surprised Marriott event planner. “We do not want the Bibles in the rooms.”

It is Marriott policy not to remove Bibles in guest rooms, but Silverman won’t back down.

“We need to do something with them,” he says, ticking off ideas with his assistant: Recycle them, give them away, put them outside the doors, perhaps even destroy them.

The event planner sits back in her chair, struggling for words.

“What we don’t want to do is be disrespectful to the hotel,” says Silverman’s administrative director, Amanda Knief, putting an end to the discussion.

Yet Silverman plans to encourage atheist guests to place Bibles outside their doors in protest.

For him, each battle - whether over the presence of a cross at the World Trade Center memorial or Bibles in a hotel room - is worth having.

After the latest American Atheist billboards went up in Patterson and Brooklyn, Silverman said he reported death threats to the police. His attitude: just par for the course, another day in the life.

“We ask the tough questions,” he says. “We say the things that are politically incorrect if they need to be said.”

“We will win the big picture,” Silverman says, twice in a row. “(Being) the Marines of free thought means that we are going to fight the unpopular fight, and yes we are going to win.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • DC • Politics

soundoff (3,330 Responses)
  1. Charleston

    Christianity started the same as Mormonism and Scientology did more recently ... with a con man or con men realizing they could make money or subdue a population with a story. Wake up people!

    March 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • dilberth

      Religion is big business. There are franchises everywhere, swindling believers out of money. At last count, there were at least 350,000 churches in the U. S. with nearly 600,000 pastors, ministers, priests, rabbis and other con men promising a better life with their fraudulent tickets to some non-existent resort in the clouds.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • fred

      Who is the con man that started Christianity and why?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Huh?

      "Who is the con man that started Christianity and why?"

      To keep the ignorant poor working thinking their reward is in heaven so they wouldn't complain or rebel to the establishment, becomes pretty apparent when you read the real history books.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • fred

      who is the con man?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • fred

      dilbirth
      Planned Parenthood with hundreds of offices swindled 1 billion in cash out of our wallets last year alone. The abortion mill has its its hand out to them. Just because there are crooks in religion and cooks in Planned Parenthood does not say anything about the real truth. Jesus and his apostles took nothing rahter they gave everything they had. Margert Sanger formed Planned Parenhood to help women and girls in trouble.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Huh?

      "who is the con man?"

      What person put the bible together...or don't you know your history.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • fred

      Huh?
      The Gospel is the truth from Christ. The Apostles headed by Peter an Paul started the church and Paul is credited with the greatest impact. Jesus was nailed to a cross and the apostles were all killed and jailed because of their faith. They all gave completely of themselves so others could be free and share the love of God. No Con anywhere to be found in the truth.
      I will agree that since that time many have used the Gospel for their own gain but that is what people do. This does not change the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the con men and the rest of us did the two simple things Jesus taught you can imagine what a beautiful world this would be. I guarantee you there would be no starvation.

      March 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  2. Robert

    in this country, you are free to believe anything you want....but these @ssholes are engaging in religious persecution

    March 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • JC In The Hot Tub!

      You feel persecuted by a few thousand protestors? Call the cops and then go hide under your bed Skippy.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • SNoob

      Persecution? Wait... you mean like the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  3. Ash

    Ignorant atheists, if it wasn't for God you wouldn't be here...

    March 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Geezer

      prove it

      March 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • dilberth

      HA! If it wasn't for our parents, we would not be here.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • SNoob

      I think my parents might have something to say about that....

      March 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster begs to differ.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • jim

      lol yes we would because god didn't create this universe.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  4. JC In The Hot Tub!

    If Christians were anything like Christ, everyone would be Christian. But they aren't so most of the world isn't.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • nsp

      if all christians were just like christ, there would be no need for christ... hmmmm

      March 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Mike

      If Christians were like Christ, we wouldn't need him. What would be the point of sacrificing himself to make a way for us if we can make a way ourselves?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Huh?

      "What would be the point of sacrificing himself to make a way for us if we can make a way ourselves?"

      Gandhi proved you don't need a Christ to live honorably.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  5. Al Anon

    No atheist has ever been able to successfully refute creation.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Fossil?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      And no theist has successfully been able to prove creation.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • JC In The Hot Tub!

      State your case. Where's your evidence?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • SNoob

      Yeah... seriously. Evolution is a scientific fact. Prove to me God created us in his own image? Oh wait, you have to have faith, well, sorry. No faith here.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Mike

      @SNoob: Isn't taking someone else's word for it because you weren't there the very definition of faith? Or have you, personally, created life from some random chemicals and a jolt of electricity? If so, I hope you get published soon... because until then, Evoltion does not explain where life comes from. It merely explains what happened to it once it was already here.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Slight of Hand

      Exactly!! Go to a natural history museum. Talk to a geologist.

      Or better yet, so we are not chasing our tails here, why don't you begin with describing the part of creationism that is irrefutable and why?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Huh?

      "If so, I hope you get published soon... because until then, Evoltion does not explain where life comes from. It merely explains what happened to it once it was already here."

      Duh the same could be said about your fictitious god too. LOL!

      March 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      HawaiiGuest – creation happens everyday.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @SPA Knight

      Your assertion makes no sense. Reproduction happens every day, but this is not creation.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Huh?

      "HawaiiGuest – creation happens everyday."

      So does evolution.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Huh? – Yes, creation and evolution happen every day side by side. No conflict whatsoever. Beautifully said.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Huh?

      "Huh? – Yes, creation and evolution happen every day side by side. No conflict whatsoever. Beautifully said."

      Yes evolution does bring about different creations we can agree on that but doesn't prove the existence of a god.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Slight of Hand

      "If so, I hope you get published soon... because until then, Evoltion does not explain where life comes from. It merely explains what happened to it once it was already here."

      You mean liquid water and warmth (volcanic vents) or sunlight isn't enough to create life? FIRST GLOBAL WARMING AND NOW THIS!! SCIENTISTS ARE ALL LIARS!!! sob, sob, weep, weep, sob, sob, sob . . . weep

      March 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Huh? Evolution brings about creation? Perhaps you mean creation happens first, then evolution happens and conditions change. That seems to be more logical to me.

      March 26, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  6. lmc2

    I do not care if an individual does not believe in a higher power. That is their business. However, I do not like to have someone else's belief or non-belief shoved at me. This group seems more interested in disruption and antagonism and publicity than in comfortably believing what they believe.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Ash

      Agree

      March 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Andrew

      er, that's a bit hypocritical, no?

      "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

      So it's okay to promote, convince, and persuade on behalf of religion, but to do the same for another point of view is offensive?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • XACTOMUNDO

      I am not a big fan of this tact, although I get it. religions indoctrinate followers in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle (and sometimes insidious)ways. It is inescapable in our culture. This is the atheist counterbalance; their bulldog Bill Donohoe.
      it is irritating to live in a "free society" with "separation of church and state" as a supposed cornerstone, when in reality religious (lets face it, mostly christian)dogma is so pervasive and influential.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Slight of Hand

      Equal time! Even in San Francisco you can walk down the street any day of the week and find someone holding up a sign with bible verses or yelling "the word of god" at you. The last time I visited union square in SF a church group rented out the stage in the park and was preaching literally hours on end. The more people like Silverman there are out there, the more people will have to come out of their bubbles. After all, I can't remember ever running into an atheist on the street spewing their vitriolic and judgmental admissions that they honestly don't have enough evidence to make grand conclusions.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • jim

      And I do not like having Christian morality shoved down my throats either.

      Don't throw the "help help I'm oppressed line at me." Your kind are ALWAYS oppressing the nonbelievers. It's about damn time we push back.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Vote GOP Save the Rich

      I'm still praying for you to disappear and it is still not working.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Geezer

      No it's a waste of time.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Jesus

      -You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!~–

      March 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • SNoob

      Prayer changes nothing.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  8. Peter

    the most disapointing thing is that this person is a jew and does not get that everything scientist find these days its all writen in the T-ORAH.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • snoochipaloo

      This is the dumbest comment I've ever read.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  9. jcom

    I would be more tolerant and accepting of religion IF the worldwide, net effect was not war, death, and impoverishment. Far too many are killed or persecuted due to religion. In a perfect, religious world, everyone would practice their faith in private and keep to themselves....this world is VERY far from that type of perfection.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  10. toosliq

    Methinks David doth protest too much.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • mike

      snork. good one.
      "America's Top Atheist Agitator". I can't believe no-one's turned that into a reality show yet.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  11. Potion4

    Interesting that he says 'You have a choice" I wonder where he got that from becuase thats what God gave us all free will so that means I choose to believe in the Creator. He can do what he wants that his choice.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Chazbo

      Which god are you referring to: Thor, Zeus, Aphrodite, Allah? I'm confused there are so many gods out there, not to mention the spaghetti monster and the tooth fairy.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  12. Joel

    Fine................but I am certain that someone who is a true Evangelical Christian will not attack you or force their beliefs down your throat. Atheists, you have every right to believe what you want. But don't attack authentic Christians for their beliefs.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • pockets

      I only wish that Christopher Hitchens were still alive to address the crowd, but Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins still wave the flag with intelligence. RIP Hitch, you were right along. Your missed.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • GAtheist

      You might not tell us what to do to our faces, but Christians sure are telling us what to do by shoehorning their faith into our laws.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Bennie

      Yeah right. Christians usually view non-Christians as lees then them and in need of saving.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Vote GOP Save the Rich

      Right – then there must not be any "true" Evangelical Christians

      March 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Pockets – Let's hope your fine leaders are not holding the American Flag upside down since they don't seem to value the freedom our patriots fought for.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Huh?

      "Let's hope your fine leaders are not holding the American Flag upside down since they don't seem to value the freedom our patriots fought for."

      Yeah sort of like the Christians who don't understand the concept of separation of church and state since we came here to flee religious persecution. If anything it will be the Christians holding it upside down.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @SPA Knight

      And what about an atheists freedom from religion? What about the first ammendment barring congress from making laws based on a religious doctrine? Militant christians are going against the const.itution, yet you are silent. Then again, maybe you're one of those people who loves double standards as long as it is for your viewpoint.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  13. Harry Martin

    David Silverman and his fellow atheists present a fascinating paradox. Why, if God does not exist, do they devote so much time, money, energy, and often their lives fighting that which they say isn't there? Why does the faith of religious people need to be fought and conquered, again if there isn't any God behind their beliefs? It seems that the religious would have just died of of natural "evolutionary" causes, if their beliefs were true? Ah well we all have faith, whether it be in God, self, or?? However the alleged logical intellect at work in some of these folks, well almost defies belief!

    March 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • leelanau

      You have defined the essence of dogma.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Harry Martin

      Something to keep in mind is that there people are not indicative of all atheists, just like Westboro or other evangelical crazies are not indicative of all christians. To my understanding he is a lot more controversial than most atheists, but I think this is to gain exposure. Atheism is usually highly marginalized, and often met with outright contempt or anger. In being controversial he is gaining a national stage, and from there hopefully to merely attempt to gain an equal amount of recognition for the atheist world view as a whole.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Chazbo

      You can't be serious Harry???? Why? Because religion and belief in invisible friends that do not exist has caused more misery on this planet than anything else. To even begin to think that there is a god that created a planet with plates that move and cause destruction, diseases, a food chain that requires every animal to kill and eat another animal along the chain. Are you delusional or what?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • secularity

      Harry, Mr. Silverman does not struggle against God, which you have correctly noted does not appear to exist. He struggles against people's dogged belief in ideas that are not supported by any testable evidence and are, in fact, disproved by reams of testable evidence. It is aggravating to debate with people who believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. It is extremely aggravating when our lawmakers maintain inequalities between men and women and refuse to grant adult U.S. citizens the basic civil right to marry because of their belief in the stories of the Bible. If religion remained private and society was secular, there would be no problem. Mr. Silverman! Please help us get the G[od] out of our Government!

      March 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Menos

      What I find interesting is how hard core fundamentalists (of any religion) have so much in common with a crack pot like Silverman. There's zero nuance to their thinking. The fundamentalist denies that the bible contains powerful myths that point to timeless truths - for example, they view the book of Genesis as a science text. On the other hand, we have atheists who pounce on that ridiculous misunderstanding of Genesis and call it worthless myth. Both sides are clueless dolts who miss the profound wisdom and beauty of this ancient text. Genesis in just one example of many others - the bigger point here is that extreme fundamentalism is what is unreasonable - no matter the color or stripes.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Menos

      To Chazbo - at least be a good atheist and open your eyes to reality. This new-atheist lie about religion being the source of all humanities problems throughout history is enough to make anyone with an interest in history and factual information throw up. Chimps are not religious, yet their clans fight ruthlessly for prime habitat and resources at the expense of the other. Mankind is no different. Behind every religious war there's the base human desire for more power, land, and wealth. Behind every secular war it's the same. Hitler and Stalin were atheists promoting a decidedly anti-religious agenda. You don't have to believe in God to get your facts straight. These two men killed more people in the name of secularism and humanism than the total death tally of all wars before their time combined. Greed, selfishness, and blood lust are constants of the human condition and spirit. As Voltaire once said, "If there isn't a God, we would have the need to invent one."

      March 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  14. dude

    To all those who are claiming a bias on the part of CNN, The March for Life was covered, just google it. I found the CNN article right away.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  15. m smith

    David Silverman, America Under God. Only here would you be allowed to voice your views. I will continue to pray for you as I did O'hara. What a death she had, at the hand of one of her chosen disciples. Pray this does not happen to you.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • James

      Only here? Newsflash. America does not have a monopoly on freedom of speech.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Only Here??!!

      Uh, try France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Canada, Iceland...

      March 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • CodyTeacher

      That sounds like a thinly veiled threat, or at least an attempt at intimidation. Jesus was also betrayed by a disciple, so Ms O'hara is at least in good company.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  16. dilberth

    I believe in David Silverman. I also believe in evolution. I believe that religion is a fraud that profits only the middleman. Their god never sees a penny. Christianity is truly a deplorable form of veneration. Revering a corpse on a cross is like worshiping a hangmens's noose or the electric chair. Members of Congress need to stop aiding and abetting this fraud with all their religious proclamations and resolutions.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Ehhhh

      I'm sorry that you have such hatred for Christianity. I hope you find Jesus one day and can experience the transformation. Please focus on Jesus and the actual facts, not what other Christians say, bc often times they do not represent what Jesus/Christianity represents.

      Peace be with you 🙂

      March 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • glyder

      eventually leftists will persecute christians in this country.would that make you happy?enjoy the battles you win because you will lose the war.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Guest

      It is people like you who has the least tolerance of any religion. You and your ilk are such bigots and full of hatred. Get a life or leave this country, loser......preferably the latter

      March 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • dilberth

      Ehhh: I've looked in every nook and cranny for your savior, Jesus, and could not locate this individual. I figure he must have a good hiding place.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • pockets

      Ehhhhh unfortunately your a nutbar. RIP Hitch, you were right all along.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Alex

      God is Love ! If you have a problem with that, it is your problem. Moreover, can you tell such trash about all religions.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Ash

      Ignorant

      March 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Pride is the most difficult of all the 7 deadly sins. The only anedote for this poisoning of the soul is humility. Pride is what keeps the ego so inflated that they cannot conceive the possibility that there may be someone smarter than yourself.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • me

      You forgot to look in your heart! What teaching of Jesus is so horrid. Love Your Neighbors, Feed and cloth the poor. Judge not?

      March 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  17. SPA Knight

    This is news? A gathering of maybe 10,000 people to encourage each other not to believe in anything or to attack all organized religion. CNN is so unbalanced that it's pathetic. The recent March for Life had over 200,000 people gather at the same place and not a whisper about it. It's probably because they are there to promote love, dignity of personhood and respect for life.

    The opening line of the article says it all "Sitting in a chilly hotel hospitality suite in a suburban Maryland hotel, David Silverman plans his attack". He sees the mission of Atheism as an attack on organized religion.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Truth

      Yes the media by and large is rather liberal. That's just a fact. They act like this is some huge number, but like you said, over 200,000 for march for life and not a peep out of CNN.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • I_get_it

      SPA: – "The opening line of the article says it all "Sitting in a chilly hotel hospitality suite in a suburban Maryland hotel, David Silverman plans his attack". He sees the mission of Atheism as an attack on organized religion."

      Well, Dan Merica (writer of the article) sees it that way. There is no quote from Silverman along those lines...

      March 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      I Get It – perhaps your right however Silverman is quoted as saying “It is Marriott policy not to remove Bibles in guest rooms, but Silverman won’t back down. We need to do something with them,” he says, ticking off ideas with his assistant: Recycle them, give them away, put them outside the doors, perhaps even destroy them.

      We have a guy who is now planning to destroy bibles that don't belong to him. Is he any better than the terrorists than burn bibles or other crackpots that burn the Koran? He's promoting hatred and that's what this movement is about.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • chubby rain

      @SPA Knight - recycling is sustainable?

      March 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • pockets

      Read if you can, understand if you can. Grab what little brains you have and wake up and smell the coffee. There is no god, so relax and enjoy your lives. I know you must feel like an idiot for sending money to hucksters like Eddie Long...and the rest of the con men, but its never to late to admit your wrong and that Santa does not exist or the Easter Bunny or Zeus or a diety in the sky. Don't be afraid to die, your worm wood and that's ok to. Get used to it.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Pockets – Love the coffee! I'm not afraid of death because it's the beginning of my eternal life in the Glory of Heaven. I know where I come from and where I shall return. I am wrong about many things but I am sure about the most important things like who my creator and savior is because my pride no longer gets in my way. I don't know who Eddie Long is but apparently you do.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • David IA

      @SPA – Actually, you don't *KNOW* where you came from and where you are going. YOU only have FAITH that you'll wind up in the cloud place. If you KNEW, then it would be fact, and if it were fact, there would be no debate.

      March 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      David IA – I believe you may be confusing the definition of fact with truth. I spoke the truth and that's a fact.

      By definition, a fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be shown to correspond to experience. Standard references are used to verify facts. Just because you do not PERSONALLY accept those references does not mean they are to be discounted.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  18. Loserville, Population = You

    Do any animals believe in the afterlife or a God? I don't think so.

    Humans are the smartest creatures and the only ones who believe in a soul and God. atheists are no different than a squirell, rodent, or giraffe haha.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • chubby rain

      No matter what you believe, all creatures rot in the ground and become food for the worms when they die. Cue lion king song.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • fromLoserville

      You need help with your analogy ... and your spelling. Maybe Lori Madison could help you out; there's someone using their brain.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Charleston

      same nonsensical logic that is always used as "proof" of God. I am always amazed how intelligent people can believe something without one scintilla of proof. Christianity started the same as Mormonism and Scientology did more recently ... with a con man or con men realizing they could make money or subdue a population with a story. Wake up people!

      March 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • secularity

      Loserville, if you think humans are the only smart creatures on this planet, how come most humans don't exercise their intelligence? Is it worse to have less intelligence and live your life or to be intelligent and choose to do stupid things? If we are the chosen stewards of this planet, we have utterly failed. Part of that is because most religious people think the Burning Bush is in charge and they can do what they want until they get caught by papa. Religion has been very bad for humanity and the planet. We need to be accountable for all of our actions right her and right now. Not when you get to "heaven".

      March 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  19. bear

    I need to share a life experience, in Nam this guy claimed to be an athiest, and I told him what I experienced from his many wonderful deeds. He was the best Christian I ever met. He was shocked and then laughed. But, he was a really kind, brave person who was there to help many. My motto, believe what you wish, as long as it doesn't harm others. Shaming others is very harmful and who are we to judge a person over their beliefs as long as it doesn't harm others.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Al

      Too bad that so many believers don't see what they do as harming others.

      March 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Ehhhh

      @Al – I think your type of post is what the OP is referring to. I hope you can find the peace that you are searching for. Jesus is what brought me peace. Peace to you my friend 🙂

      March 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  20. not cool

    think before you post NutGrinder! That wasn't even funny

    March 23, 2012 at 4:25 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.