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'Recovering Catholics' reveal spiritual journeys
According to a 2008 poll, 31% of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24% describe themselves as Catholic.
June 19th, 2012
09:36 AM ET

'Recovering Catholics' reveal spiritual journeys

By Jim Spellman, CNN

Denver (CNN) - Kristen Kelly was raised Roman Catholic, attended Catholic elementary school and considered herself a good Catholic, but when she was 21-years-old that changed.

“A coworker asked me if I believe in Jesus Christ,” she says.

Despite spending her entire life in the Roman Catholic Church she couldn’t answer the question.

“I never really got exposed to Christ," she says. "It was more about Mary and the Church and a condemnation of everything I was doing wrong.”

She looked at her coworker and saw someone who appeared to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and decided that was what she wanted. She said this prayer:

“Jesus I accept that you are my lord and savior, and I ask you to come into my life.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

And from that moment Kelly, now 41 and living in Florida, considered herself born-again, and an ex-Catholic.

“I like to call us recovering Catholics,” she says with a laugh.

According to a 2008 study by the Pew Forum on Religious Life and Public Life, 31% of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24% now describe themselves as Catholic. Read the study (PDF).

That means about 1 in 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a denomination they would be bigger than Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians.

The total U.S. Catholic population has remained at about 24%, as immigrants have filled the pews the ex-Catholics have left behind.

Video: Why do some Catholic outsiders remain inside the flock?  

Kathleen Cummings , associate director at the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame, says that some people leave the Catholic Church after a defining event like the priest abuse scandals or because of a disagreement with the Church over social issues, but most leave because they feel their needs are not being met.

“They are not experiencing something that fulfills them spiritually,” Cummings says.

Church supporters are urging wayward Catholics to return to the fold. For example, Catholics Come Home, a nonprofit lay organization formed in 1997, has been putting out the welcome mat via the media.

The group has an interactive website www.Catholicscomehome.org and airs what it calls “evangomercials” on radio and television. The group says that since 2008 more than 350,000 people have “come home” to the Catholic Church through their campaign.

Tom Peterson, president of Catholics Come Home, says some worshipers who've returned to the Catholic Church report leaving because they had disagreements with church officials or had divorced and feared they wouldn’t be welcome. But, he says, the majority never really gave up on the Church.

“They just drifted away and life got too busy," Peterson says. "Most say they didn’t dislike the Church, nor were they opposed to the Church teachings.

“An overwhelming majority of returnees tell our diocesan partners that they came home to the Catholic Church, 'because you invited me,'" he says.

But it may not be so simple to lure back ex-Catholics like Matt Rowe, a 35-year-old married father of two living in Denver. Rowe attended 16 years of Catholic School in Illinois and attended a Catholic university.

But by the end of college, Rowe was adrift. He found himself disagreeing with the Church on everything from the role of women to the concept of original sin and what he saw as the Catholic Church’s dependence on guilt as a motivating factor.

Rowe gave up on religion for most of his 20s but never stopped believing in God. When he got married and had kids, he started feeling a void in his life.

“I wanted my kids to grow up in a religion, but not Catholicism,” he says.

After “church-hopping” for a few years, Rowe ended up at Pathways Wash Park, a multidenominational Christian church in Denver.

After years of feeling disconnected in the Catholic Church where he says sermons rarely connected to his life, he has finally found the connection he has been looking for at Pathways.

“I wanted spirituality. I wanted God. I wanted all those points to go back to what I’m dealing with today,” Rowe says.

Fred Viarrial, 59, grew up as an altar boy at St. Leo’s in Denver. Six days a week he donned his cassock and worked the 6 a.m. Mass.

“Books or bells. You are ringing the bells or moving the books for the priests,” Viarrial says.

But as he grew up he began questioning elements of Catholicism. One day, when Viarrial was somewhere between age 10 and 12, he had something especially embarrassing to confess, so he trekked over to a Spanish language parish where he was unknown.

“The priest pulled me out and spanked me on the spot,” Viarrial says with a laugh. “That got me to question this whole thing of confession.”

When he was just 14 the precocious teenager went so far as to schedule an appointment with Denver ‘s then-Archbishop James Casey to discuss his doubts.

“I took a two-page list of questions starting with the Hail Mary. I wanted to find them in the Bible, their origin … where is that in the Bible?”

Viarrial says the archbishop humored him but ultimately did not answer his questions.

He still believed in God, but was losing faith in the Church.

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By his 20s he was searching for a new church and ended up at Arvada Covenant Church, an evangelical congregation in a Denver suburb.

At Arvada Covenant he says the focus is on a personal relationship with Jesus and that his questions about his faith and the Bible are not met with derision, but with a search for answers through Bible study.

He has found a home at Arvada Covenant, but says he holds no grudge against the Catholic Church and still feels echoes of his Catholic upbringing in his faith today.

“It’s like a spiritual tattoo that you receive as a kid," Viarrial says. "Those roots don’t ever disappear, you just better try to understand them.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Colorado • Faith

soundoff (2,511 Responses)
  1. Vida Martinez

    Sad they have to leave the most excellent gift that our Saviour has left us: Himself in the most Holy Sacrifice of the Altar: The Holy Eucharist. If you realy believe this great mistery: nothing in the World can separate you from the Church that this great gift was entrusted to.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "If you realy believe this great mistery: nothing in the World can separate you from the Church that this great gift was entrusted to."

      LOL no even child r..a..p....e huh?

      June 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • bill.x

      it happens when the church does things that christ would have not wanted for his followers. i rather dance with the devil then have a drink with republicans.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • wolfpackbob

      Dear Vida. Well said, and please ignore the trolls.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Vida Martinez

      I love the Catholic Church and I am so blessed to serve my Lord and Saviour in the Church that He founded.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Chris

      "religion; a way to control the weak minded" Ridiculous comment. Did you quite school when teaches abused or sports when coaches did?? Weak minded?? Look up Maxilion Kolbe.

      June 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  2. wolfpackbob

    Right. CNN is pushing this story objectively. No angles or agendas, right CNN? Via con Dios, muchachos!

    June 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Gerry Daley

      It's actually "vaya con Dios." I'm sure you'll get a much more accurate picture of things from FAUX News

      June 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  3. SconnieGuz

    So if I live a good life, know the difference between right and wrong, but refuse to believe in a mystical sky fairy that vacuums up people's souls when they die, does that mean I won't get to get to your invisible paradise land of your imaginary friend?

    June 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  4. Aljd

    This article wouldn't have anything to do with the recent backlash from the Catholic Church towards the Obama White House would it ? The liberal propaganda media machine strikes again.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, Obama has a hotline right into CNN and orders these articles to be written.

      Idiot.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  5. The Jackdaw

    There is nothing that solidifies socio-economic, racial and geographic strata like an invented deity.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  6. Bix Dugan

    "She looked at her coworker and saw someone who appeared to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and decided that was what she wanted. She said this prayer: “Jesus I accept that you are my lord and savior, and I ask you to come into my life.”

    I understand where she is coming from (and the others). I was a cultural Catholic, stormed out of the church in my late teens, and then a few years ago finally discovered Christ. it led me straight back to the Catholic Church, warts and all, since Jesus' last instructions to us were "go forth and baptize all nations" and not "accept me as your personal savior."

    This "are you saved" thing is troubling. We are supposed to worry about everyone being saved, and doing what we can toward that. Born-agains have this "lifeboat" mentality with everyone obsessed on whether or not they have a seat or a pass. Practicing, committed Catholics devote themselves to the poor, the sick, educating children, etc. in order to get past that personal ticked thing and view salvation as a group effort and community project.

    I don't expect many to agree with me here, but want to express the other side of why some of us are drawn back in while others are rushing out the doors. Thanks, and the Lord be with you.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      ...and with your spirit.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Madtown

      The problem with the notion of being "saved" by being a born-again christian, is that there are millions of equally valuable human beings(creations of God) throughout the world who will just never hear of christianity, the bible, or Jesus. They live in a part of the world where they won't have exposure to any of those ideas. So, the notion that God has given 1 path through salvation through Jesus Christ is just not accurate, again.....because a great many of God's creations will never hear the name Jesus, through no fault of their own. These cultures have a different notion of God, but in no way is it inferior to yours. If there was truly only 1 way, God would allow all his creations to be privy to it.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • George

      Bix, I really like your comments and your story....thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was never Catholic, but I did leave the Lutheran church several years ago because they have not been very welcoming to gays and lesbians. Of course, the Catholic church is not any better, but your story goes beyond the politics and is very personal. I appreciated reading it.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bix Dugan

      Thanks George, and for telling yours! FWIW I am not in agreement on either church in this area, and try to embrace the whole of the social thought: pro immigrant, pro living wage, pro universal healthcare, pro peace, pro dignity, and pro life. It's a struggle sometimes, but I guess it is not supposed to be easy... and it's really out of either left/right comfort zones.

      June 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  7. billsf

    The Catholic church needs a pope younger than 85 who can bring them out of the stone age!

    June 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  8. bill.x

    the church has become part of the republican right wing organization. they love the power and influence they get at the head of big government. the more they have inched rightward towards republicans, the more democratic catholics have stayed at home. the church have signed up for the republican wars; on women bodies and rights, the poor's health needs, organized labor rights and immirgration reform. the church is either on the fron lines of those wars, or unbelievably silent when a fair voice is needed.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  9. A Catholic

    CNN is really doing a hatchet job on religion on this "Belief Blog" today. If it is not attacking Catholics then it is attacking the Hasidic Jews. It is just shameful. They had one positive story on the weekend, but they sure are making up for it with the negative ones this week.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      maybe if catholic priests would stop molesting 10 year old boys there would be no need to expose your farce of a religion.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • KMW

      They attack (CNN) the Catholic Church more than any other religion. If we weren't so strong and wonderful, who would they attack? We have over one billion members and growing.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Bix Dugan

      I always thought the "gates of hell" would be more impressive than CNN's website, and that the devil's minions would be better dressed...quelle dommage.

      Oh well, as St. Ignatius warned us in his letter to the Romans: "the greatness of Christianity lies in its being hated by the world, not in its being convincing to it." Point proven here.

      June 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  10. kenny

    if there was a god and he wanted us to believe in him, he'd come down and tell us.... the reason there are so many faiths is because they were all invented by man to control other men... and the men that didn't want to be controlled came up with new ones .... that is the ONLY explanation that makes ANY SENSE...

    June 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  11. Wanderer81

    Beware: most of the people that leave the Church (and the ones commenting on here) are just a bunch of bitter, old people that couldn't hack it. They spend their lives seeking out these post to justify their decision and minimize their regret.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Flippy

      or they just started to think for themselves

      June 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Kristen Kelly was raised Roman Catholic, attended Catholic elementary school and considered herself a good Catholic, but when she was 21-years-old that changed."

      do you read anything other than the bible?

      June 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bix Dugan

      Some are, but some of us who left came back and better appreciate what we almost lost. I did, then worked in a returning Catholics group for some time with others looking at rediscovering the Church. Everyone has a story. People telling theirs here might someday want to get reacquainted, which we can pray for.

      As Sir Alec Guiness said about the Catholic Church when he rediscoverd it, "I felt like I was coming home– but knew the place for the first time."

      June 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • KMW

      Welcome back Bix. Sir Alec Guinness was a fine representative for our Church. He was also a wonderful actor (they do not make them like they used to).

      June 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  12. mehere

    Watch this movie. "For the Bible Tells Me So" Its all in how Catholics twist excerpts
    from the Bible to cause fear in you.

    http://forthebibletellsmeso.org/media.htm

    June 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  13. BriSoFla

    Happy Gay Pride Month Everyone!

    See how relevant that is to the above article? It isn't obviously and so are 99% of the comments made on these boards. If you have nothing nice to say, close your browser, shut your computer down, go outside and have a nice day.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • KMW

      Please practice what you preach. Good bye.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  14. Colin

    If you have never been to a Catholic mass, it really is like a weird cult.

    They gather together every Sunday and believe they eat and drink the actual flesh and blood of a dead prophet from the Middle East 2,000 years ago because a priest performs some hocus-pocus over grocery store bread and wine.

    I swear I'm not exagerating. It is not symbolic either, they REALLY believe this Dark Ages crap in the 21st century!! They don't even think it is macarbe and sick, to eat a dead guy.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • 7Virtues7

      God exists and faith in Him is a gift. I pray that God sends you the gift of faith. God is real even if you don't believe. If you believe and he isn't real you haven't harmed anyone, but if you don't believe and he is real you only harm yourself!

      June 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • OOO

      If god were real, it wouldn't be hard for us to find him, would it.
      So... where is he again?

      June 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Pascals Wager how fun. And by the way, is attempting to take away rights not harming anyone? Is attempting to control people through fear based tactics not harming anyone? Is dehumanizing and devaluing humanity in general not harming anyone? All these things are hallmarks of the christian religion. So don't you dare try to say that it doesn't hurt anyone, because then you're just being completely dishonest.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "God is real even if you don't believe."

      santa is real even if you dont believe
      the easter bunny is real even if you dont believe
      leprechauns are real even if you dont believe

      June 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      Do you understand why Catholics do these things? It's because Jesus told us to. "Do this in memory of me." "This is my body and my blood." He didn't say, "This shall represent my body and my blood."

      June 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  15. yourlogicisflawed

    Personally I left the Catholic Church when our priest and bishop starting equating how good of a person I was with how much i donated to the church every week. I refuse to raise my children to believe that the path to being the best person you can be is paved with money.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  16. LAIBACH

    ALL religions are ridiculous, infantile cults! You want meaning in your life? Look no further than yourself, your family, and your friends (and pets)!

    June 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Blind leading the blind.

      My dog is rad. I should worship my dog. Unlike God, my dog exists and actually cares about me. Go dog!

      June 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  17. Justice for All

    Religion is by far the most destructive thing that mankind has ever created.

    Just think of the millions or billions of people that would not been killed, maimed and tortured if religion never existed.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  18. Barry G.

    If you leave the Catholic Church, don't leave Christ.

    Long before there was a Catholic Church (viz., c. 33 CE–315 CE), there were Christians, who followed the teachings of Christ. Admittedly there were divisions or schisms, but they followed the teaching of the Jesus and the apostles.

    Then the church split into Western (Latin) and Eastern (Greek) Christians, then came the Protestant Reformation.

    I mean no disrespect to my Catholic brothers and sisters, but you can be a Christian, without being a Catholic.

    Simply follow the teachings of Jesus.

    "And Jesus said, 'If anyone would follow me, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.'"

    "And Jesus said: 'As I have loved you, so you should love one another.'"

    And Jesus said: 'You have heard it was said, 'Love your friends and hate your enemies; but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'"

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life".

    June 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Jane2u

      This sounds exactly the same as what Prohphet Muhammed said...along with a bunch of junk. Every religion says good stuff and bad stuff...you dont need a Christ or a Muhammed but just plain common sense and a sense of being a good human being.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  19. MK

    I wished I had listened to my then second-grader several years back when he insisted that the religion he was learning in his catholic religion class made no sense. I could have saved myself from a few more years of ridiculousness.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  20. JohnnyK14

    I am 31, "Catholic," and have struggled with my faith most of my life.  At the core of my being, I want to believe there is something more than just what we see in front of us...that the good deeds and merits we spend a lifetime achieving may reward us past our temporal existence...however that feeling has dissipated over time...
     
    Growing up I went to Church every Sunday, and had very religious parents.  When I went away to College, I no longer felt compelled to go to Church weekly.  Ten years later this still holds true.  I find it hard to go on Easter and Christmas...even though I know how happy it would make my parents.
     
    The point for me where I really started to struggle with my faith was when my youngest sister was celebrating her First Communion.  I was my sister's Godfather, and at that time I was in my early 20's.  I didn't want to stand at her First Communion with sin, so I went to a Priest for Confession (it was on a Wednesday).  When I met the Priest, I said the traditional sayings, “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been several years since my last confession”.  After that, I started off my confession in a very unorthodox matter.  I simply said Father; I have committed several sins; however I feel I am a good person.  While I profess to know what I am doing is wrong in the eyes of the God, I can't say I won't have struggles nor temptation to recommit such acts.  Keep in mind I was a 20-something year old male, and my sins were of a promiscuous variety.  We can debate on the rightness or wrongness of that, but that is not my point.  My point (and this is what I told the Priest), is that I would feel it would be insincere to ask forgiveness for acts that the Church deems as improper, but I necessarily did not.  However, I would try my best to improve on such matters because it is important to the Church and my soul.  I may fail at times, but there was no way I could say I was 100% sorry if I truly wasn't…and I had no intention of lying to a Priest to obtain a blessing (if you believe in God, then clearly lying to a Priest to absolve your sins seems a little counterproductive).  I feel that happens enough from the Clergy whether it is ever recognized by the Priest, and I did not want to be that person. 
     
    I tried to be honest in that I recognize the Church's views, and I would try to work on my actions (even though I didn't totally agree).  I made it clear I was struggling with my faith but that I wasn't a lost cause.  I did not try to come across as arrogant, nor did I say that I wouldn’t try to curve behaviors the Church deemed wrong.  I just said I currently struggle with some things, and from time to time I may fail in upholding the Church’s expectation.  For now, my main goal was to be purged from as much sin as I could so that I would not taint my younger sister’s First Communion.
     
    Fast Forward to Sunday (four days later)…  I'm sitting with my entire Family in the pew.  It was at this time the Priest read the one of the passages.  Now keep in mind the Mass that we follow is created for pretty much an entire year, so we know what passages are being read way in advance.  Anyways, the passage the Priest was reading from was eerily similar to the discussion I had just had with the Priest.  In fact my heart sank as he read it...I just had a bad feeling. 
     
    After the Priest finished reading the passage, he started his Homily with...I had a young man come speak with me this last Wednesday (my whole Family knew I had went to confession on Wednesday, and Wednesday is a non-traditional day to give Confession).  Anyways, over the next 20 minutes he preceded to use my confession as a parallel to the passage just read.  Not only did he do that, I was even misquoted to where he was making jokes about the absurdity of my confession and the young man in the passage that supposedly had the same views as me.  He portrayed me a "woe is me, our times have it tougher" type of person.  In addition, he pretty much went point-by-point over our entire confession and what I thought about various things...all sitting next to my family.
     
    At first I was okay with it...thinking I had brought this on myself.  After awhile, I was simply angry.  He had no right to use our conversation as his platform for a Homily...despite the timing of both incidents.  Ten years later I am still bothered.  I'll always remember the sound of the Church laughing as he mocked/misquoted me in his Homily, and all the while sitting next to those closest to me.  I was trying to be honest, and not ask forgiveness for acts which I struggled with as "sinful".  I never denied the Church's point of view.  I never tried to say, "Well, it's 2001 catch up with the times."  I just didn't want to accept penance if I was not sincere.  Even up to that point (and still after) I have never left the Church...rather I was (and still am) a stray.  I might have done some things differently that day if I had the chance, but I also I feel the Priest could have really counseled me, or maybe became a mentor...instead he made me a laughing stock.
     
    Now that said, I still identify myself as Catholic because many of the beliefs they hold, I do agree with.  I believe in being a good person.  I don't believe you should lie, steal, or murder (in addition to many others).  I want to believe there is a God...however I have not had any divine intervention.  Until that day, I will continue to be the best person I can be, and if something were to bring me back to Church on Sundays, I wouldn't say that would be a bad thing. 
     
    I am one story.  Everyone has a reason why they do things, however this is my take on why some people may leave the Church.  I was a person struggling with their Faith.  My Priest could have tried to work with me, but instead it seems he seemed it was more appropriate to rise above me, so that when I looked up, all I could see what bottom of his shoe.  Tradition is a fine thing, but without meaning we just find ourselves singing songs, and speaking chants that we can no longer identify with.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Blind leading the blind.

      Didn't read any of it! LOL! 😛

      June 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • blinky

      Johnny K, That is just about the longest personal post I've ever read on CNN, and certainly the most self-absorbed one. You lost me at the start, when you talked about faith as though it were your layaway retirement plan for eternity that you pay into on installments, instead of humbly asking God to give you a purpose in serving others. You're just interested in looking good to others, aren't you? I'd say ditch the abrasive priest, he's clearly bitter and doing no good, and find a church, Christian or otherwise, that helps you to find your calling for doing good for others in this world, instead of saving up your chestnuts for an infinite winter.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      I'm sorry you had this experience. The priest should have admired your forthrightness and should have honored your confidentiality, though I suspect he thought he was. Don't let one bad experience with one bad misjudgment by a church leader turn you against the church. He is/was, after all, only a human being, flawed as we all are.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • MR

      Probably the most thought out, or sincere comment I have read on this board.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Hey Zeus!

      If you're having doubts about your faith, this is a good start:
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=360]

      June 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • G

      Ignore the haters Johnny. What you said in the confessional should have been held in confidence. Counseling/mentoring you and helping you to find the Lord in your life would certainly have been more helpful but you know that already. As some others have said, don't let a bad experience with a flawed human being color your impression of the Church. Stop in, go to a Mass, talk to a local priest or deacon (or, if your local parish has one, a Welcome Home representative). Tell them about your experience, let them know you were hurt, and perhaps they can help you along your faith journey. Most importantly though, I'd suggest you reflect on your current beliefs and on the teachings of the Church and see where they diverge. Then, I'd try to figure out why (this may form the basis for a really good conversation with your priest or deacon or perhaps a well studied Catholic friend). Trust me, "divine intervention" is all around you. You're just not paying close enough attention...

      June 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Jane2u

      Why do you need to go to a church to become a good person?
      Every religion -at it's heart teaches the same thing -dont steal, dont lie, be truthful and honest, love others, support others..these are more like views that are needed to hold a society together...when thsee go away there is chaos -like the Taliban did to Afghanistan.
      My point -you dont need religion to be a good person or to be spiritually fulfilled.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Bix Dugan

      "My point -you dont need religion to be a good person or to be spiritually fulfilled"

      Jane2u, I felt the same way for years. I thought I could find god on my own, like the guy experiencing him in the outdoors. CS Lewis helped me understand why that wasn't working for me in his book Mere Christianity:

      "The­ol­ogy is like [a] map. Merely learn­ing and think­ing about the Chris­t­ian doc­trines, if you stop there, is less real and less excit­ing than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doc­trines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the expe­ri­ence of hun­dreds of peo­ple who really were in touch with God-experiences com­pared with which any thrills or pious feel­ings you and I are likely to get on our own are very ele­men­tary and very con­fused. And sec­ondly, if you want to get any fur­ther, you must use the map."

      He wasn't Catholic, but his advice works for just about any spiritual program.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.