'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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. catholicmoxie

    What a pathetic, stereotypical article about disillusioned Catholics who actually know nothing about their faith or their Church. Try asking someone who is properly catechized and in love with Christ and His Church. I also grew up in a time when the Church failed to teach Her people effectively, and as an adult, I began seeking the truth and the answers myself, and found everything I needed was right there. There is simply no greater wealth, nothing richer to be found than the beauty, wisdom, and fullness of truth that lives in the Catholic Church. Anyone interested in a real, tangible connection with Christ will find Him in the Eucharist. Disillusioned Catholics, come on home and we'll teach you everything you think you were never taught. You'll be glad you did.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Bill Deacon


      June 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Cq

      I think a lot of Catholics would like to come back to the Church, but it will take a Vatican III council, with broad liberal reforms especially for women, to get them back. As it is, all the Church is losing is basically American , Canadian and Western European Catholics, but its expansion in other parts of the world more than makes up for this.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Robert

      Amen, catholicmoxie!

      Cq, The Catholics to whom you refer as waiting for a new, more "liberal" Church are waiting in vain. They are conformed to the world, not to the Word of God. It is futile for them to hope that the Church will also conform to the world. The Church is well aware that it is unpopular with the popular culture and much of the intelligentsia of the Western world these days, but it would be untrue to the Word of God if it conformed to the world.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • sam

      It's too bad only people who stick with the church are considered 'true'. Very narrow.

      June 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      A usual description of people who stay is "true".

      June 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  2. Jesus Christ Superstar

    Does anyone find it wrong that the leaders of the Catholic Church like to touch little boys? Because that seems wrong, and most people who still consider themselves "catholic" probably are ok with the leaders touching little boys. But if you're a pregnant atheist, you better watch out!

    June 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      If there was a vote, and 51% said pedophelia was OK, would it still be wrong? And if so, why?

      June 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • catholicmoxie

      The leaders of the Catholic Church do not like to touch little boys. That is a pathetic and cowardly remark. The very few abusive priests have no place whatsoever in the priesthood, and no one is more disgusted and enraged by their betrayal than faithful Catholics. Just out of curiosity, though, do you find it wrong that many teachers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, coaches, and parents like to molest little boys and girls? Cause I do.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Everyone finds it wrong moron.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  3. Rod

    I am Catholic, believe in Jesus Christ, and I have a personal relationship with Him. I am a follower of Jesus who established the Catholic Church and its Sacraments and directed his followers to build his Church. I hear homilies that relate to my life, I am a recovering sinner, am imperfect, have a spiritual director, my needs are being met (God's grace flows when one is fully engaged and giving of themselves to God and others wholeheartedly), and I am fully active and participate in the life of my family and Church. In the end, everyone is part of the universal Church but has either chosen a different path for whatever reason, never been exposed to catechized regarding the Catholic faith, or has remained in the shallow water. If one has never journeyed into the deep–prayed (which includes Scripture/theological study, faith sharing, adoration, spiritual formation/retreats, pilgramages, Mass, reconciliation, listening for God's voice, and more) on an ongoing fashion or done God's will (been obedient, patient, humble, unconditionally sacrificing, unselfish) to the extent that they understand what it means to be Catholic and God being your number one priority–that His Ways and those of His Church are not the ways of the world (trade vices for virtues) and that we are being called into communion with Him via love for Him and one another in our faith community and broader community. Invite anyone to read, for starters, Rediscovering Catholicism or a classic, The Imitation of Christ. P.S.- the Haily Mary and many other prayers and songs were based on Biblical text/psalms.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  4. fieldhunter

    I too long ago departed the Catholic clan having been "almost" indoctrinated some 17 years, pre-school through undergraduate degree...altar boy along the way.... But it became so obvious to me that Catholicism had more dogma spoken with the "ex-cathedra" inviolability of the pope than one could fit in two Bibles. You could never say Catholics weren't pro-women, for Mary got a couple of mentions in the Bible and mountains in the Catholic-generated liturgy of the "believe or burn at the stake (middle ages) or forever in hellfire" kinder, gentler contemporary approach to "salvation". This is also the same organization that was complicit in the Spanish Inquisition and the later decimation of Indian tribes in Central and South America. "Convert or be converted to the afterlife". As the Nazi's raised hell in the Holocaust in Europe in the 1930s and early 40s, his holiness Pius XII stood silently by... Fast forward to the epidemic of priestly pedophilia, covered up and stone-walled for decades by the Holy See. I do find it amazing that membership hasn't fallen off even more sharply than it has in this religion. I do believe that were Christ to walk into the Basilica of Saint Peter today or many of the other like-facilities and see the gilded vessels and fine garments, his reaction might be akin to his previous reaction to the money-changers in the Temple of old.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Cq

      You might want to take a little time to check out how Martin Luther, Billy Graham, and other key protestant figures viewed Jews, or dig a little into the various televangelist scandals, the non-biblical basis or both the Rapture and Prosperity Gospel, and a host of other issues that plague non-Catholic Christians. There are problems everywhere in that religion.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • sam

      (Cq thinks casting aspersions on other religions makes his/her own better)

      June 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  5. Clinton

    Hearing stupid atheists respond to my posts is the best evidence that i'm right... you get all these angry morons that don't have a clue what they're talking about trying to attack my argument, "BUT THOSE PEOPLE WHO MURDERED MILLIONS THEY WEREN'T DRIVEN BY ATHEISM TO KILL" ........ uh where are you even coming from with that argument? I didn't say that Atheism drove them to kill but the facts are that they were atheists, They killed without remorse because they had zero inhibitions to getting what they wanted. They felt no fear in committing mass murder. There was no moral center to say what they were doing is wrong. You can argue that til you're blue in the face but truth is truth. Your argument is flawed and weak. and don't get me wrong i don't put that on people who are atheists today, i don't accuse you of being responsible for these acts, that would be as stupid as you guys are being for attacking common people on this blog because of things religious folks have done in the past. My point in all of this is, everybody has their own beliefs, and i respect that fact... i don't care, i'm not going to attack your religion but i expect the same respect from you... If i don't get it then that is proof to me that you're not a good person.... Anybody that lacks respect for their fellow man is an idiot in my book and it means you just don't have any class.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      I've been reading your defensive posts.
      I would bet that there is a vein in your brain that is getting bigger and bigger as you get angrier and angrier.
      Don't let it pop!

      BTW... You need to open your mind more.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • matter-of-fact

      The ideology drove these people to kill (which includes religion – remember 9/11?). Atheism is just a recognition of the fact that the idea of god is a joke. That by itself won't cause anybody to kill anyone.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Clinton

      Happy Jack – I'm not angry, i'm dissapointed with folks that don't have respect for their fellow man. Your perception of me being defensive is innacurate as well, I'm simply pointing out that many are attacking people rather than being respectful, i used the examples above to explain my argument.

      matter of fact – That is a flawed argument. By definition Atheists do not have an established set of morals, so why is it wrong to assert that this leader potentially murdered millions because he had no moral code in society to live up to? You're making assertions without facts.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      And how is being able to go to your preacher for confession or dropping to your knees and asking for forgiveness in any way an inhibition for doing evil? Seems more like a free pass to do things you know are wrong and just get forgiven by magic man. What about the victims? If god forgives you, the victim still suffers.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      What do you consider to be the established set of morals proclaimed by athiests? I guess first you would have to figure out what group speeks for all athiests, or even if there are sects of atheists, like with christianity.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Clinton

      Hawaii guest – I have never in my life dropped to my knees to confess to any man. Nor would i ever, it does not ask that i do that in my faith. That is a Catholic idea and I am not Catholic. I believe In God, i don't believe any man has the power to forgive me, that is for God to decide. That's my belief.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Jesus Loves A N A L

      Christians represent majority of our immoral acts and criminal activity in our country. It does not appear Christianity is the answer to our woes. In fact the evidence shows Christianity perpetuates ill behavior and criminal activity in our country. Christ is clearly not the answer.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Clinton

      Happy Jack – I didn't say there was a set of established morals for Atheists, in fact i noted that there was NOT a set of morals, if you want to know if Atheists have morals and where they come from you'd probably have to ask an atheist, my post was simply pointing to the fact that the dictators i was talking about did not have a specific set of morals telling them that Murdering millions of people was wrong.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Clinton

      To the highly disrespectful person that posted above, which i will not repeat his name... Christian churches in the United States provide more financial, medical and food aid to the world than any non-governmental group in the world. Your statement is ridiculous. Also, blaming a religion that preaches to their people to be good to their fellow man, to love their enemies and to forgive people that have wronged them for people doing bad things is ridiculous. The fact is the majority of people in the United States are Christian, and Christian's are people, inherently they are going to have the largest percentage of just about everything good or bad. You're an idiot too by the way, If you're so stupid that your assertion is Christianity is the problem, then there's pretty much no other way to describe you but foolish. Your name alone tells me that you have no respect for people in the first place. Seriously, get a life.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Happy Jack

      I apologize, I did not read the NOT in your statement.
      However, you appear to be making two claims:
      1. These dictators had no moral code. I have not met anyone that had no moral code.
      2. Their lack of morals (which I already disagree with) was because they are athiest. See response to 1 above.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Clinton

      Happy Jack – I'm sorry but that doesn't make any sense, you're asking me if Stalin had a moral code? I don't believe he did, if he did, it was very different than any moral code i've ever heard of. The point i was making was that they were indeed Atheists and did not believe killing people to get what they wanted was wrong. That seems quite clear. I'm not saying every atheist is like that, but i was pointing out that this has happened in history..... THE worst mass murderers of all time were in fact Atheists. That was my point.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • OOO

      Of course Stalin had a set of moral codes. Every human does. As you stated, they may not be good ones.

      But if your hypothisis is correct, how do you explain me? I am an atheist and I believe murder is wrong and that Stalin did bad things.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Then respond to the rest of my post, instead of latching on to one thing in order to avoid the whole point of the post.

      June 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      1. Respect for other is important. I completely agree with you on that point.
      2. Calling people morons brings you down to their level.
      3. Humanity defines morality. It is fluid. It changes over time. The bible clearly condones slavery. We don't now. What changed? Not the bible. The definition of morality changed.
      4. Regarding atheistic 20th century dictators and I'll recognize Stalin, Mao and Pol-pot as such. Yes, they were responsible for the deaths of millions. Despite their combined evil, they still didn't cause the same degree of human carnage and suffering as 20th century wars fought by world leaders who defined themselves as religious. This is evangelical propaganda and it does not stand up to close, objective scruitiny.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  6. kendallpeak

    Let's take atheist thinking down it's obvious road. There is no God, only haphazard events. There is no absolute, all things are relative, nothing is of real value, only the value of the moment. There is no "good" or "bad", only what we want to call good or bad at the moment. For example, murder is not absolutely bad, it is only bad because the majority in our culture call it bad. There cannot be an absolute good/bad that trumps man, that could only occur if there was a force superior to man's opinions of the moment. Thus good/bad is determined by a 51% majority at any time, but that's only in a democracy. In reality good/bad is determined by strength. Thus atheism translates to the survival of the fittest. Also called the rule of the jungle. No Thanks. Turn to God, for He is Good.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Nothing you said had anything to do with atheism. Stop listening to your preacher for real world information.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • OOO

      So you only do the good that the church/bible tells you is good? You don't have an inner sense of what is good or bad. You don't interact with others who give you feedback on your actions, thus educating you as to what behaviors are compatable with others? You don't think for yourself?

      June 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • matter-of-fact

      The research shows that the civility doesn't come from god, by Oxytocin – a chemical in the brain. Only mammals have it. The fish and the lizzards don't. It enables us to be concerned about each other, with or without god.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Madtown

      That's fine, turn to God. Just don't turn to religion for the right answers. Organized religion is a creation of mankind, meant to attempt to answer questions that we're not meant to answer. It's ok to not know, and you don't need man-made religion to believe in God.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      ooo and others. You still ignore the obvious. In Nazi Germany, it was "good" to commit genocide. If the Nazis had won, would genocide be good? If not, why not? Is there an absolute good/bad, or is just what we say at the moment? If there isn't an absolute, who cares what we say at the moment?

      June 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • matter-of-fact

      Nazism, Communism and religion are all the same in principle – a man-made created dogma (teaching) created by madmen that instigates other people to follow it under threats of harm. Atheism just declares that god is a joke. No threats, dogma there!

      June 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • OOO

      There isn't a god to impose an absolute "good" or :bad" on morals. They come from within and from our interactions with others.
      Where you take it from there is a functions of how your morals have developed.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      ooo and matteroffact. Be brave. Is genocide always wrong no matter what people say? If so, what makes it "wrong".

      June 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Jesus Loves A N A L

      Christians represent majority of our immoral acts and criminal activity in our country. It does not appear Christianity is the answer to our woes. In fact the evidence shows Christianity perpetuates ill behavior and criminal activity in our country. Christ is clearly not the answer...

      June 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • OOO

      I have never seen a case of genocide that was good. But maybe someone could hypothetically come up with a case. I don't know.
      In any event, I go back to my statement that there is no god to enforce morals. What you do is a reflection on your own moral development.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      And so ooo, atheism reveals it's face when you state genocide could hypothetically be good in a certain case. I will give you the case. Whenever it is expedient to the powerful. And why not? There is no such thing as absolute right and wrong. I believe that in reality you know better. There's always a way home.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • OOO

      You are clearly twisting what I said incorrectly. And this is revealing a scary side of you. Especially if you think an atheist has no moral code just because they are atheist.
      I would worry if your religious leader suddenly edicted that genocide was good you would feel compelled to follow along.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @kendallpeak, you said: "There is no "good" or "bad", only what we want to call good or bad at the moment. For example, murder is not absolutely bad, it is only bad because the majority in our culture call it bad."

      Ummm ... yes? That is exactly how it works. For the most part it works pretty well. There are some things which take a while to fix – like slavery and one day, gay rights.

      As I have posted elsewhere: The bible clearly condones slavery. No self-respecting Christian would do so now. What changed? Certainly not the bible. Morality changed.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  7. Truly Emulate Christ

    The best advice to give anyone is to tell them to Leave the Catholic Cult. There is no room for Bible-believing Christians in the Catholic church! I even asked some priests about the Bible and they replied that they did not read the Bible! That said it all and speaks volumes as to why millions across the world are deserting the Catholic denomination.

    What also needs to happen is for the pope to turn his heart towards God for a change. He needs to truly emulate Jesus Christ if he expects for his remaining flock to stay within the church. That means sell everything as Jesus said and truly join Christ by using all of those hundreds of millions of dollars and giving them to the poor, the sick, the elderly, for opening up hospitals in areas where people are too poor to afford medical care, for opening up schools and colleges for aspiring young students to attend and to open up facilities for the children and the elderly! THAT is what the pope should be doing instead of sitting on a fine chair of gold just looking at his massive collection of priceless art work collected through the ages. Sell ALL Of It! Now is the time and take up the cross and truly follow Jesus! This Scripture from Jesus describes it best why the pope or succeeding popes will not be able to enter into Heaven when they pass on.

    "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." - MATTHEW 19:24 (KJV)

    June 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Cq

      Considering that the vast majority of Christians in the world are Catholics and that the Catholic Church picked which books to make into the Bible your comments don't really make much sense.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Michael Murphy

      @Truly Emulate Christ: I encourage you to look deeper at the history and current teachings of the Catholic Church and you might be surprised by how much the bible shapes the Church's teachings and sacraments. Look at the history and the teachings-they point the Catholic Church as the link between Christ and you in today's world. We trace our Church to Peter, who was instructed by Christ (Matt 16:18). While Popes throughout history have done some terrible things, they are men and therefore subject to sin as all men are. And the Church does do incredible things around the world and here in the US-you simply cannot deny that-
      "Together, with the local, diocesan-associated Catholic Charities, it is the second largest social service provider in the United States, surpassed only by the federal government".-wikipedia
      "in 2002, Catholic health care systems, overseeing 625 hospitals with a combined revenue of 30 billion dollars, comprised the nation's largest group of nonprofit systems."

      June 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Jesus Loves A N A L

      Christians represent majority of our immoral acts and criminal activity in our country. It does not appear Christianity is the answer to our woes. In fact the evidence shows Christianity perpetuates ill behavior and criminal activity in our country. Christ is clearly not the answer.....

      June 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Be Informed

      Two things Catholics and many others do not like about the pope are 1. He is amassing a great fortune and not sharing it with others as Jesus said he should! 2. The intrusion into people's lives is also very big with Catholics who are just not going to stand for that anymore. And if you never read another book again, you need to read - Foreshocks of AntiChrist by William T. James. Harvest House pubs. put out this great book that really tells the story of the papacy, the Catholic Church, and other matters that will shock every reader!

      June 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  8. Jesus Christ Superstar

    @Atheist Hunter is a closet atheist. He has pictures of Bill Maher hidden under his bed.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  9. matter-of-fact

    The sooner the society will dump religion, the sooner we can advance to a higher level of intelligence as people. It's like removing the shackles of slavery – the truth will set you free!

    June 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  10. Jesus Christ Superstar

    Does anyone else think Atheist Hunter should be tared, feathered, and burned at the stake in the public square?

    June 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No, I think he should be redeemed by a savior just as I think for you.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      And when I'm redeem by the savior, whatever that actually means, what do I get? Will they pay off my car bill? Or help me with medical insurance? Or make it so I don't live paycheck to paycheck? Because if this savior fellow can do all that, then sign me up!

      June 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No, more than likely he will ask you to renounce your own life and lay it down for your friends. The fact that you are only interested in what's in it for you defines your limitation

      June 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  11. snowboarder

    i was raised lutheran, but though i enjoyed the communal feeling of the church i found no spiritual feeling in it. i tried a few other denominations, but as much as i wanted to believe, i really didn't.

    you read about people struggling with their faith and realize that those are people who try to force themselves to believe.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  12. gibbongirl

    I'm a catholic in search of a religion that is more accepting of women. I'm stuck at my church because I've committed to leading an arm of our Family Relgious Education program and because my eldest daughter wants to receive confirmation with her friends. I'm the typical catholic. I went to catholic school, drifted away from the church in college and came back when my husband & I started contemplating kids. I've always had problems with some of the church's stands. It pushes its anti-abortion message everywhere yet puts very little effort in its stand against war and the death penalty. And now its investigations of the nuns and the girls scouts. I've found some female catholic priests who perform 2 masses a month at a local UCC church. I'm thinking of going there or to a women friendly episcopal church in the next town over (our local episcopal church is pretty conservative). I have 2 girls and 1 boy. It's time to find a church that opens its arms equally to everyone in my family, both the males and the females. Don't want my girls to feel that don't have equal opportunites(like being Deacons or priests) to serve God.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      Such as Mother Teresa: “She was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

      June 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • OOO

      Why are you in search of a religion. It sounds like its a narcotic or something.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      I wish you well in your search for something that is meaningful to you. The Episcopals/Anglicans have a much more 'woman-friendly' approach on what is essentially Catholicism (minus the Rome-centric power structure). Ordination of women has long been practiced there.

      At the same time there are many conservative Episcopals/Anglicans who are looking to the Catholic church because they feel their church has taken a path that is too tolerant of gay participation.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  13. Somebody

    Catholicism has confused all those who are eagerly searching for the truth in the Bible. The fact that the majority of the members of Catholicism, including their leaders, barely know the Bible has proven that. A tiny but valid list of distorted teachings NOT FOUND in the Bible:

    Christmas (the Bible does not mention the exact day Jesus was born)
    Immortality of the soul – Ezekiel 18:4 says the the soul that sins dies.
    Priests not being able to marry
    Priests being called Father? – Matt. 23:9 clearly refutes this false teaching

    If Catholicism could distort these teachings, what else have they been blinding the eyes of their believers with?

    The Bible is Inspired of God, but in order to understand that you have to know the truth by reading and meditating on what you read. Don't just accept what these false teachers promote but question if what they promote are actually taught in the scriptures, the REAL Truth may surprise you and hopefully will open up your eyes.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Devil did it.

      No truths in the bible only myths.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Cq

      The Bible was selected and canonized by the Catholic Church, or do you not know Christian history?

      June 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  14. Jim Ryan

    Religion forces nice people to do unkind things and also makes intelligent people say stupid things – C Hitchens

    June 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  15. matter-of-fact

    There's no god – there's only Oxytocin, the bases for moral human behavior. Isn't funny that civility doesn't come from god, but a tiny molecule in the brain?

    June 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  16. Michael Murphy


    June 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  17. PrimeNumber

    The atheist agenda is described as follows:
    1) Religion has always been pervasive. Atheists cannot point to any large successful culture and say " See how well man does without religion?" There's simply not enough data.
    2) Societies that were officially atheistic produced corpses and prisoners by the millions. Atheists must hide this fact.
    3) Atheism is a dirty word thanks to people like Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. Atheists must distance themselves from such historical monsters.
    4) Unable to accomplish 1, 2, or 3 atheists have no recourse but to cast religion in the worst possible light, i.e., emphasize and embellish the violent parts of the Old Testament, ignore the overwhelming good in scripture, blame child abuse on the religion itself instead of individuals, etc.
    This is what the Bolsheviks in Russia did. They obliterated Russian history, and spun a new, official one.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      Religion forces nice people to do unkind things and also makes intelligent people say stupid things – C Hitchens – obviously, you have no understanding of how theocratic dictatorships come about (Stalin) – Czars were elevated to God status – they were no secular – just as N Korea is secular – they are one short of the Trinity – all hold God status – including the the late Kim Il's father – you need to bone up on some truth

      June 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • matter-of-fact

      You are completely confused. Those nations practiced dogma that also excluded belief in religion, but the dogma itself was very much like religion. Communism and religion simply doesn't mix – you can have only one principal belief system at a time.

      Athiesm is simply a rational recognition that the idea of god is ridiculous – it's not based on reason, logic, evidence, facts, or probability, and faith by itself is just a joke.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Cq

      Stalin and Pol Pot were authoritarian dictators, as was the Christian Hitler and the muslim Saddam Hussein. Stalin and Pol Pot were against the power held by organized religion, something many Christians are now doing by calling what they have a "relationship" with Christ, not religion. Your argument does nothing to link atheism to mass killing. What it does is like dictatorships to mass killing which is something most people ought to know.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Nicely, but perhaps disingenuously reasoned. FIrstly, there is no atheist "agenda". There's no plot to destroy religion, just live and let live. Let me address your points:
      1. I can't think of a meaningful counter example, so I'll say "true", there's no data for a religion-free society – yet. 😉

      2. Communism (which is what you really mean here) is a failure, not atheism. I believe in freedom of (and from) religion. This is not what Communism tried to do.

      3. Stalin and Pol-Pot are evil*. Robert Mugabe is Catholic. So was Adolf Hitler. Totalitarian rulers ignore moral values irrespective of the beliefs they were raised with.
      * Yes, atheists are happy to distinguish good and evil.

      4. No sensible atheist would suggest that child abuse is caused by a belief in God. The Catholic churches issues with this problem are the all too human response of an organization trying to protect itself, the same way corporations do.

      It strikes me that you bring up the old testament. Is this an internal doubt of your own surfacing? We are talking about Catholics here and they tend not to emphasize the Old Testament. As Christians, they focus on the Gospels and Acts, as you would expect followers of Christ to do. It is protestants who lose themselves in trying to reconcile the vengeful Yaweh with loving Jesus. As Christians I would think they could throw away the old testament but why do they spend so much time obsessing over Genesis and Leviticus? I really don't get that.

      Either way, the old testament is just as relevant to atheists as the Quran.

      Atheists place their faith (and yes, that is what it is) on what can (to the best of our abilities) be measured repeatedly and predictably, rather than rely on myths handed down over the ages about unverifiable and unreproduceable miracles.

      June 19, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @I'm not a GOPer

      I would agree with everything you posted, except the last part about faith, but perhaps I am using a different definition than you are. I'm using the world english dictionary version of faith being "strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence".
      This kind of faith plays no part in my life, and the other definitions are more a synonym of trust, or a certain expectation.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      clearly I used the word "faith" deliberately.

      Here's the (incomplete) OED definition for "faith":
      1. Belief, trust, confidence
      a. Confidence, reliance, trust (in the ability, goodness, etc., of a person; in the efficacy or worth of a thing; or in the truth of a statement or doctrine).
      b. Belief proceeding from reliance on testimony or authority

      This is exactly what I mean and why I used that word.

      It is interesting that the OED adds this to 1.a: "In early use, only with reference to religious objects; this is still the prevalent application, and often colours the wider use"

      We place our faith in the accuracy of the measurements and the models we create to explain the universe.

      I do think it is important for people to realize that in science, what people sometimes want to represent as facts are not absolute. We change our models when our measurements get better. (The classic example is Newtonian mechanics v. Einsteinian Relativity.)

      Mathematics is the only real truth, but even that's cheating a bit, because it defines its own rules.

      There's a reason that when doctorates are awarded in the sciences they are still usually awarded as a PhD – a Doctorate in (Natural) Philosophy. It is no less Philosophy than the study of myths. It's just much more repeatable, predictable and therefore reliable.

      I've never seen inside an atom. I believe that a model consisting of a dense heavy nucleus surrounded by electrons at different sets of energy levels is a good model, but I have to accept it on faith.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  18. b0bc4t

    Many people consider themselves Catholic in name only, never go to Church, either due to time constraints, or laziness. Others are sometimes referred to as A & P Catholics, who go on Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Christmas and Easter.
    I was raised Catholic, went to parochial school for elementary school and high school, but lost that devotion as I grew older and busier in my daily life. LAZINESS! I have known others who have found reason to condemn the Church for its' many holdings and riches, and for the contempt felt over the rise of pedophile priests in the media and the courtrooms. I find these to be the most obvious reasons to have strayed from the Church, having objections to the Puritanical tone taken by Rome, while not being able to reconcile these feelings with Christ's teachings. I am always struck by the faith that my parents found in the Church, and their knowledge of the Christian history which was lost on me. I find that trying to live a life of peace and love of your fellow man was the message from Christ, and whether I go to a building with others to outwardly profess that faith is secondary. People look to the Church to answer the mysteries of life, and we all find our own message there, or we move on and look elsewhere.
    Condemning people for their beliefs is not what I consider to be productive or rewarding for either party. If you get pleasure from calling me out for my beliefs and calling God a sky fairy, I hope it helps you through your day, but it won't change how I think or act. Advancing yourself, by attacking to reduce those around you is a folly at best; you did not improve by this act, and may have done damage to others with hurtful thoughts and actions. Blessed are those who find true meaning in their lives through faith and love, and those who find meaning in the Catholic Church, and celebrate it with their fellow faithful.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  19. Colin

    Atheist Hunter, I expect this will be like trying to explain rocket science to a Corgi, but'I'll give it a go.

    Man did not pop out of the dirt due to a magic act by a divine being 10,000 years ago. In reality, it took about 4 billion years of Earth history for human beings to evolve. The process is well understood. Starting with a "simple" organism (and I say "simple" because even the simplest of organisms are complex, but I’ll come back to that) all of the offspring of that organism will all be slightly different to their parent, and to each other. No boy is identical in EVERY respect to his father.

    Those organisms with the traits that best suit it to survive are more likely to pass on their genes (and that advantageous trait) to their own offspring. A slightly faster lion, taller giraffe or better sighted hawk is more likely than its slower, shorter or more myopic brethren to live long enough to breed and pass on the favorable genes that gave it the edge. No rocket science there.

    So far, easy, but here is the key and the thing you creationists don't seem able (or, perhaps, willing) to grasp. The way in which any child will differ from its parents will generally be small (such as eye color, height etc.) but, given enough time and enough generations, and provided some external element is selectively favoring specific traits, such as acute eyesight, the differences will add up. Over thousands of generations, so much cu.mulative change builds up that the great-great-great etc. grandson will be so different from its great-great-great etc. grandfather as to amount to a new species.

    If, for example, a dog breeder only ever allows the fastest male dogs to breed with the fastest female dogs, after many years of such selective breeding the resultant dogs will differ so much in body shape, leg length and, perhaps, lung capacity from their ancestor as to be considered a separate breed. No one set of offspring will differ greatly from its parents, but it will differ a little more from its grandparents, and even a little more from its great-grandparents etc., until we go all the way back to the original dog, which will be quite different in appearance.

    We see this around us everywhere. Ever heard of greyhounds, the most obvious example of breeding for speed? Very different to bulldogs, aren’t they. All breeds of dog alive today descended from wolves. In fact, it is likely that they all descended, ultimately, from a small pack of wolves that were domesticated in either the Middle East or Manchuria some 10,000 years ago. In any event, every last one of them, from the Teacup Chihuahua in Paris Hilton’s purse to the Great Danes of European car advertisements, are the cu.mulative result of selective breeding down different paths from the original wolf.

    Now, what are the chances of two wolves giving birth to a Chihuahua or Dalmatian? Virtually zero, but this ignores (like your 747 example does) all of the intermediate steps – the generations – the tint steps – required to get from a wolf to a Chihuahua. It took 10,000 years, about 5,000 generations – 5,000 baby steps. I could not jump from New York to San Francisco, but I could certainly walk there in little steps.

    Evolution is, in fact, a work in process, as dog breeders all over the world, along with horse breeders, wheat farmers, rose growers, cattle farmers and all other professions that depend on the traits of plants or animals to make their living, selectively breed for desired traits. Why do you think horse breeders pay thousands of dollars for the fastest stud horses to breed with their mares?

    Even the most cursory of research into any branch of horticulture or animal husbandry quickly reveals that the size, variety, health, longevity and resistance to disease of most of our domesticated plants and animals were the thing of dreams as recently as 100 years ago. Indeed, biotech companies like Monsanto would quickly fall behind the competi.tion if they did not spend millions each year on Darwinian selective breeding programs.

    You really think that people in the 1500s ate fruit and vegetables of the size, nutritional value and taste we do today? Hell, there are hundreds of types of apple today. They did not exist a few centuries ago. Why do diseases “build up” a resistance to antibiotics. Individual bacteria don’t, but antibiotics sometimes only kill 99% of the bacteria, leaving a few individuals to breed and pass on the trait that allowed them to survive the antibiotic to their offspring. Gradually, these survivors and their descendents will outnumber the original, weaker disease. A new, more resistant strain of the disease has just evolved. Or did your all loving god create the new, virulent strain in an effort to kill people?

    Now, to go back to the point I left open at the start of this post, what evolution does not explain (nor attempt to) is how the first complex living things arose. However, the more we understand biological processes, the more we are seeing that there is a natural tendency for non-living organic compounds to clump together into increasingly complex forms. Experiments show this all the time. While explaining this process would take a while in an already long post, suffice it to say that no step in the process of gradually increasing complexity of organic molecules into simple life seems to be too complex to have happened without divine intervention. It just took a long, long time – hundreds of millions of years, and a big, big "Petri dish" – the entire Earth-before it occurred, perhaps even more than once.

    Finally, even if we were to assume that [the Christian] god created the first living cell, where does that get us? We immediately bump into the question of what created that god? God was always there, right? But this is the same as saying he "just happened" and God is even less likely than a simple cell is to have "just happened." In fact, why is “God” considered an explanation for anything. It isn’t. It’s a cop out, a shrug of the shoulders. When a person attributes something to God, it usually means they haven’t got a clue, so they invoke a magic act by some unreachable, unknowable sky-fairy. All we have done is put a halo on a question mark and walked away from the challenge.

    Frankly, would any believer, absent having been taught it from when they were too young to question it, possibly conclude the existence of a creator-god as a thinking adult, based on what we know in science today? Much less the one that is straight out of late Iron Age Palestinian mythology.

    PS: The sky-fairy analogy is not original. It is cited in Dawkins as being from an unnamed blogger.

    PPS: I did not distinguish between “breeds” and “species” but that is simply a matter of degree of exactly the same process. Accepting one but not the other is like accepting the existence of inches but denying the existence of miles.

    June 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Devil did it.

      "Clapping". Brilliantly stated Colin. I await a rebutle to your post with baited breath.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Madtown

      Colin, Athiest Hunter is a troll, don't feed him!

      June 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      hard to educate the uneducated when they have already given up their own right to "free inquiry"

      June 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Tim


      June 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Rigby

      Jeez man, all that ranting simply because you don't understand symbolism?? Oy vey, please log off your computer now.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Michael Murphy

      Your comments on evolution are so Catholic! Surely you must have read Pope Pius and Pope John Paul II's encyclicals on the compatibility of evolution and faith! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution#Pope_John_Paul_II)
      Evolution and science, as you admitted, still do not explain where the first inorganic materials came from. It is illogical to presume that something came from nothing. Furthermore, it is illogical to presume that God is a being and within the bounds of science. This can help elaborate my point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8YTre3xqXg

      June 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

      But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      LOL Colin's head has exploded because you tied his rant to Catholic teaching! Now he's not sure what he believes or thinks Catholics believe. I can't stop laughing

      June 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Let me summarize Colins ranting for you all.....

      In the beginning God created..................................................God said it was good!

      June 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter


      June 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Michael Murphy,

      It would have been nice to have you help out in some of the other threads where evangelical protestants were defending a literal reading of Genesis.

      Catholicism does not hide the concept that it takes an interpretive view of the bible, with an emphasis on the Gospels and Acts. As such, interpreting "days" in Genesis as an arbitrary unit of time (let's say approximately a billion years or so, give or take) and it's really easy to square Hebrew cosmology with science, including evolution, as "God's plan".

      Most posters in that discussion would not enter into a dialog about why it was OK to interpret conflicting parts of the bible, yet it was essential to read Genesis literally. Perhaps you have some ideas? I cannot comprehend the cognitive dissonance required to do this.

      June 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  20. Jim Ryan

    We have the same job that we have always had, to say as thinking people and as humans that there are no final solutions, there is no absolute truth, there is no supreme leader, there is no totalitarian solution that says if you will just give up your freedom of inquiry, if you will simply abandon your critical faculties, a world of idiotic bliss will be yours – C Hitchens

    June 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hitchens seems to have missed something or more likely uses a typical atheist technique of reductionism to the absurd. Jesus never said we would get a world of idiotic bliss. He said that in this world we would have trouble. He said that the world would hate us. He said that whoever hates his own life would find a new life. He promised martyrdom to the Apostles. He dared us to take up our own individual crosses and follow Him. He said if we would do these things that the glory of the Father would be revealed in a Kingdom not of this world. I see people every day living in that Kingdom.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Cq

      Bill Deacon
      He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
      Isaiah 2:4

      The point that Jesus did not do this in his lifetime is only evidence that he was not the expected Jewish messiah.

      June 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
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.