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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      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.

      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!

      June 22, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  2. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    When Christ himself conducted the first Lord's Supper, he did it sitting down with his followers at a dinner table. I think all the fancy costumes, equipment and rituals associated with the Eucharist shows a lack of confidence in the congregation's faith–saying that they need this razzle-dazzle in order to remember the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. Jesus was (literally) very down-to-earth in his preaching, and there have been great Catholics who understood this, such as St. Francis.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Veritas

      No Sweetheart. It shows that we honour Him as the King of kings and as such we treat him as we would [and do] with earthly royalty.
      We Catholics don't have a problem with that. It's little enough for the Man who died a horrible death to save US from sin and Hell.

      At the feast of the Lord's Last Supper, the priest, Bishop, Cardinal or Pope wash the feet of 12 "apostles" just as Jesus did. So with all the pomp there's plenty of room for humility. God Bless you.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      Died a horrible death, but is still alive?

      Face it, he had a bad weekend

      June 22, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      no Sam, satan did. Your earthly view of reality shackles your freedom

      June 22, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  3. Danny

    Most Catholics who leave the church don't really know the teachings of the church therefore u cant love and cherish what u never learned so they leave and follow a charismatic preacher who falsely guides them to the real path of life

    June 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  4. LucyRicardo

    No wonder the world is in such turmoil. A bunch of hedonistic, evil people like yourselves who have no religious beliefs are helping to shape the modern world. Keep on listening to the lefty professors in college who claim to teach you to "think for yourselves" and let's see how you wind up as a result of thinking you know it all.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Danny

      truly agree darn college professors are as liberal and atheist as it gets a couple semesters ago I was in a English class and are professor asked the question "Would you like to live forever" most people said no only if they could stay young in the process as the line of people went down one of my peers answered no because I want to meet Jesus and enjoy his kingdom to my surprise people started laughing it shocked me and I came to his defense but it also reminded me as to why the world is as chaotic and evil as it is now people are losing their moral values

      June 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • JWT

      Being religious has nothing to do with moral values.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Veritas

      Lucy and Danny – Well saiid . Lovely posts from both of you. Peace be with you.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      Thinking for yourself is much more preferable than being a kneeling, begging sycophant, Lucy. Morality has nothing to do with religion.

      June 22, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • sam stone

      Danny: If this person was so interested in meeting Jesus and enjoying his kingdom, what is keeping him or her here? Do you not have tall buildings where you live?

      June 22, 2012 at 7:14 am |
  5. Ariel

    PARTAKING IN A MIRACLE

    On June 3nd I received a message in my email box that read, ‘I have chosen you’. When I opened the email and read it my thoughts were upon what God was speaking into my heart. Opening the door for Him to bring that forth meant closing the door to her understanding of the words ‘I have chosen you’ laid out in her email. The response I received back after replying to her email clearly stated she was not willing to close that door for believing in her heart that God opened it through something He spoke unto her when she read one of the letters posted on my website http://www.theresurrection.ca.

    Knowing God had called me to pray for this lady who had liver cancer; I emailed her again. I gave her my phone number and asked her to please set aside trying to fulfil what she heard from God, and to allow Him to bring forth in her life what He had set in my heart.

    The following day (June 4th) I received a phone call from her. She lives on the Ivory Coast. Her dialect, shortness of breath, and persistent coughing made it difficult for me to hear and understand what she was saying. Before I was able to communicate with her, the phone went dead. When she called back, I asked her to send me an email with her phone number and told her that I would call her as soon as I received it. When it showed up in my email a few minutes later I returned her call. It was quite evident that she was anxious to speak with me. Seeing her state of anxiety I asked her to relax, that I needed for her to calm down, and told her that if we got cut of I would call her right back.

    When we spoke, it was very clear that she thought I didn’t appreciate what she was trying to accomplish. There was something she wanted to do for me, and believed in her heart that God had asked her to do it, and desperately wanted to do it before going in for surgery on Friday June 8th. After listening to her, I told that there was a difference between what God asked her to do and His instruction to me, and that I needed to be obedient unto God, and to seek Him in prayer to fulfil in her life what He had set in my heart. I could tell she was moved by that through her response. The moment she surrendered doing what she felt God asked her to do, and began seeking God to fulfil what He had set in my heart, God’s Spirit entered into her, and through allowing me to feel His presence upon her He guided me in prayer for her.

    I didn’t tell her what God had set upon my heart when I read her email. God had called me to seek Him to bring forth what He had set upon my heart. Stella needed to see God fulfil what He had set in my heart; my call was to seek Him to bring that forth, and through His Spirit in the midst of the situation I was able to testify of Christ through asking God to open Stella’s understanding of His Son by giving her peace and strength. The feeling I got through her emails and through speaking with her was that she felt she wouldn’t survive the surgery; that is not what I felt.

    Later that day God spoke unto me through a Scripture that I emailed to Stella. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

    The following morning she called me, June 5th. She said she read the Scripture I sent her, and that God had spoken unto her through it, and asked me if I would pray for her. Feeling God’s presence upon her, I asked Him to guide me, and then sought Him for her by asking Him to reveal His Son unto her by giving her divine peace and strength; this was my supplication every time I prayed over the phone for her. She called me later that same day towards evening time. She was deeply moved by the experience she was having with God, as was I. She wanted to know if I would pray for her again. After I prayed, she told me that she was having a problem with her email; that she was unable to log on to it. Seeing her frustration, I felt it was best not to deal with it at that time, and told her I felt she needed to get some rest, that I wanted her to focus on what God was going, and that I would call her in the morning and help her with her email, and that if we couldn’t figure it out I would lead her through setting up a new account. She was content with that, and then we said goodnight.
    The following morning we resolved the issue, and then we spent some time before God in prayer. She spoke about an appointment she had with her doctor at the hospital that day, at which point I asked her for the name of the hospital and for her doctor’s name along with the phone number to the hospital. After giving me that information I asked her to inform her doctor that I would be calling him after her surgery on Friday, and to send me an email when she got home from her appointment.

    She called me around 5 pm; her breathing very heavy, I knew something was wrong. After telling me that she was still at the hospital, and that her doctor wouldn’t allow her to home, I asked her if there was any way I could speak with her doctor. It was evident that he was nearby because I heard her calling for him. Seconds later I heard her asking him if he could speak with me. When he came on the phone I introduced myself, and then asked him to give me an update on Stella. I didn’t have a good understanding of her condition until then. He told me that she was much weaker from when he last saw her which was Monday June 4th, and that he was keeping her in the hospital hoping with medication she would be strong enough to for her surgery that he had scheduled for Friday June 8th. After speaking with him, I spoke with Stella, and before saying goodbye we spent some time before God in prayer. I told her that I would keep in touch with her doctor, and asked her to give him permission to speak with me.

    When I called the hospital the following day the news wasn’t good. Stella had slipped into a comma throughout the night, and the doctor had to cancel her surgery. It was a difficult day for me, and I spent most of in prayer seeking God to fulfil in her life what He set in my heart.

    When I called the hospital the following day I received the same news; I spent that day and evening in prayer before God. When I called the hospital the following day her doctor informed that her condition was very serious and that she was not responding to the medication her had given her. .

    Sunday June 10th I received a call from her doctor. He wanted to know if I could help by sending money so he could purchase blood and medications for her. There is a shortage of blood on the Ivory Coast. People are dying every day because of it, and the hospitals are purchasing blood from neighbouring countries to help save lives. Many people die because the hospitals don’t have the funds to purchase the blood needed to save lives, most of those dying are young children. You can read about this tragic situation by going to Google and typing in the following ‘is there a shortage of blood in Cote D’Ivoire’.

    The following day after sending the money the doctor requested, he called me to inform me that he had purchased the blood and medications Stella needed, and that she was responding to the medication. He also told me that I saved her life, and thanked me for my help. My response was that I was happy that I could help out, and that I had nothing to do with saving her life, that God was watching over her and that I deeply appreciated his calls keeping me informed of her condition.

    On June 12th I received another call from Stella’s doctor. He sounded quite cheerful on the phone; he said the person with him had something they wanted to say to me. Stella’s first words to me were ‘thank you for what you have done. I owe you my life’. Troubled by that, I told her that she owed her life unto God, that all I done was follow His instruction. The following day I spoke with both Stella and her doctor; she was improving.

    On June 14th I received a call from her doctor informing me he had rescheduled her surgery for June 15th. That night, I bowed before God, and asked Him to bring all the cancer in Stella’s body into one place, so when the doctors removed the tumor in her body all the cancer that had spread throughout her body would be in that tumor. I knew from having spoken with her doctor that the cancer had spread throughout her body. Her doctor also told me that if Stella survived the surgery, it would be an act of God, and that the risk of not doing the surgery was equally as life threatening.

    When I spoke with her doctor on June 14th I told him that I believed God was going to raise Stella up, and that she was going to bring forth a testimony of His Son for her people. After speaking with her that day, I wrote her a letter, and emailed it to the hospital requesting it be given to her in the morning before going into surgery. The letter described the difference between natural love and spiritual love and how thankful I was that God had blessed my life through bringing her into it.
    June 15th, day of surgery. When I called Stella that morning, she was reading my letter. After thanking me for sending it, she told me that she desperately wanted to see me, and then asked if I would email a picture of myself to the hospital so she could see my face before going into surgery. I told her that I would do it right away and that I would call her back when I sent it. After I set it, I called her doctor to tell him that I had emailed a picture of myself to the hospital and asked if he would give it Stella. He said he would do it immediately because he knew how desperate she was to see my face, and then thanked me for sending it.

    Shortly thereafter I called Stella; she was very excited to have received my picture. We had a very calm and relaxing conversation; she was peaceful that morning, but I could tell she didn’t believe she was going to survive her surgery. Hoping to ease her concerns I informed her that I had sent her doctor some additional money the night before in case blood was needed after her surgery, and that I wanted her to know because I didn’t want her to go into surgery worrying about not having the blood she required. (I was aware some would be required after her surgery from having spoken with her doctor who did not request that money because he didn’t think she was going to survive surgery.) Before saying goodbye to Stella that morning I told her that I believed her and I would someday meet, that I loved her, and that I wasn’t going to pray for her that morning because it was a day to praise God, and that I was going to spend that day praising Him for what He was about to do in her life that day. Before leaving the phone she told me that she loved me from the bottom of her heart; I thanked her, and told her that I would speak with her after her surgery when she was able to speak on the phone.

    At 1 pm her doctor called to inform me that she was going into surgery, and that he expected the surgery would take 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Around 4:30 pm he called me to tell me that Stella had her surgery, that she was okay, and that he would call me later. I bowed before God and thanked Him for the miracle Stella received that day, and for allowing me to be a witness to that miracle. Her doctor and I spoke again around 9 pm that evening. Seeing his amazement that she had survived the surgery I told about my prayer the night before. There was a quiver in his voice when he said these words ‘what you described to me is exactly what happened’. Before leaving the phone I prayed asking God to rain blessings upon that doctor and his family. The praise he was giving God while I prayed asking God to bless him and his family made a perfect ending to a perfect day. What an awesome God we serve, and if the shepherds in the field understood what it meant to pray and seek God for what He sets in their heart, and to allow God to fulfill what He sets in their heart, God’s sheep would be witnesses unto God, and Christ would be with man, and this world be a much different place than it is.

    I have spoken with Stella twice since her surgery and daily with her doctor. There is no medical insurance in her Country; she paid for her surgery prior to going into the hospital. Her doctor told me that she would be in the hospital for a month, and asked me if I could help him raise $ 3000.00 for her care, her food and the blood supplement pills she requires. When I took this need before God in prayer He spoke into my heart to use His website to raise this money required for Stella. The doctor, Stella and I each have a testimony of God that we gained though this incredible experience, but that’s not the Testimony you have just read. Hear ye what God’s Spirit is saying and seek Him in your lives for He is more than able to meet every need.

    Stella’s email is the first email I received since this website went on line. I look forward to hearing her testimony through witnessing what God is going to do for her people. Christ is the foundation upon which God’s House is built, and when we seek God to bring us into His image Christ is manifested in our lives.

    If you wish to donate to Stella’s need you can safely so by clicking on http://www.theresrrection.ca, and then clicking on enter, and that will lead you to the box that says, donate.

    In closing, may God’s Spirit rest upon all who read this Testimony, Amen.

    Ariel

    June 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Glenn

      I know of an incident of an African immigrant calling an elderly women claiming to be her grandson. ...wanted money for bail.
      When there are so many opportunities to contribute at home or through various organizations, why put yourself at risk ?
      People do prey on the religious and people are of in genuine need. Don't put yourself at risk. Your money won't mean anything in the hands of crimminals.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Veritas

      Ariel – You sound like a truly wonderful person. I hope this lady was genuine, but everyone isn't as nice as you. Bless you.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      This long winded post is a copy paste spamming of each and every comment thread here.

      Just move along.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  6. Robert

    All that's left to do is take the next step and become a recovering christian.

    June 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  7. Dan K

    Well I found Jesus in the Catholic church. I recieved the power of the Holy Spirit inn the Catholic church while recieving the gift of speaking in tongues and prophecy and have experienced the healing touch of Jesus in the Catholic Church. I will not leave the Catholic faith no matter what.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Ooooo,

      I want to hear a prophecy!

      June 21, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Prophecy – Dan K will continue to experience personal fulfillment and spiritual growth as he applies himself to the sacraments of the Church. You will continue to be a sarcastic ignoramus

      June 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Robert

      Prediction:
      We'll all die and none of us will go to heaven. The difference being that the atheists will have actually lived and die knowing that their lives weren't spent attempting to oppress others.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Commenter

      Dan K: "I recieved the power of the Holy Spirit inn the Catholic church while recieving the gift of speaking in tongues and prophecy"

      1. I thought it was against the rules to lie.
      2. Did the "Holy Spirit" inspire that total abomination of the English tongue?

      June 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Bill,

      So the guy who makes unfounded claims and is more likely than not to be lying will be rewarded but I am stupid, and you believe him. Doesn't say much for you now does it?

      June 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Since I have shared his experience, in what you might call a double blind experiment, yes, I believe him and I am able to recognize when someone is sarcasm which I find one of the most ignorant characteristcs

      June 22, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  8. kebos

    Putting religion behind me was the best thing I ever did. Living life based on a lie was like eating food with no taste. Now life is enjoyed to the fullest the way it is meant to be.

    June 21, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Veritas

      You mean you stopped worshipping the good and loving God who made you so you could worship YOURSELF ?
      You sure drew the short straw, didn't you? You sold your birthright for a mess of potage. That's sad.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  9. Jesus Christ

    I was the last Christian to die on the cross.

    June 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • stone age fred

      Jesus was Jewish

      June 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Nii

      STONE F
      And Martin Luther n Jean Calvin were Roman Catholic.
      And Thomas Cranmer was a Calvinist.
      And John Wesley was an Anglican.
      Get the drift.
      Jesus Christ was the founding member of the Jewish sect known as the Nazarenes (Jewish Christians). In effect He was a Jewish Christian or Messianic Jew!

      June 21, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Jesus
      I guess your Apostles weren't Christians?
      St. Peter one upped you by being crucified upside down!

      June 21, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Robert

      Assuming you're real, there were no christians in your lifetime.
      Sorry but you were a Jew.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Veritas

      Ahem! Jesus was the FIRST Christian. Christianity only BEGAN with Jesus Christ [Christ-ian]. Gosh, it's like wading through treacle here!

      June 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Veritas

      Nii – Yes, Jesus Christ was a Jew. Jewish is a nationality. Jesus founded the one, true, Christ-ian, Catholic Church and since catholic means UNIVERSAL, nationalities don't come into it. OK?

      Protestantism, Calvinism, Jansenism, Puritan, evangelical etc are all offshoots who broke away from the Catholic church because parts of Catholicism didn't suit them. Like Henry VIII, who was riddled with STDs wanted a divorce.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  10. christaknows

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian (sadly)
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    June 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • kebos

      @Christaknows: Well done! Very well done!

      June 21, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Andrew

      @christaknows
      Most of the Christians I know don't meet a single one of those signs. I know a few that meet several. I don't know any that meet all ten.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      @Andrew

      Yes but the haters will applaud and reinforce the delusion

      June 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  11. Paola Pena

    There is a new movement in the Catholic Church called FOCUS-Fellowship of Catholic University Students. We are a team of about 300 Missionaries serving on 75 college campuses nationwide. Most of our missionaries are recent college graduates who return to the college campus and invite students into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church and inspire and equip them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendships in which they teach other to do the same.

    focus.org Check us out!!
    Some of our schools we serve on are at Harvard, MIT, University of Nebraska, University of Colorado...and more.

    June 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Nii

      TOP TEN SIGNS U R A CHRISTIAN
      (A SPIRITUAL XTIAN VERSION)
      1. You love YHWH with all your life hence making you more focussed, alert and intelligent.
      2. You love your neighbor as yourself which makes you realise you are just like them warts and all and hence you accept them unconditionally

      June 21, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Does FOCUS support equal rights for all?

      June 21, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • Nii

      3. You accept that your neighbor loves you as himself. This ki.lls su.sp.ici.on and helps u to know their good n bad side so as to help them.
      4. You love your en.em.y as yourself. This protects u from e.mo.ti.on.al a.b.u.se and helps to bring peace be.tw.ee.n u two. It also helps u to enjoy life!

      June 21, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • kebos

      Jesus should invite others into a personal relationship with him on his own. Why does he need you to do it? It's time for Jesus to develop some backbone. And he should stop being such a procrastinator. I mean, it's 2,000 years already! I got a feeling god is mighty disappointed in Jesus's performance.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • KMW

      Paola,

      This is wonderful and I wish something like this had existed when I was in college. I certainly would have joined this wonderful organization and I am so glad to see some of the top colleges are taking part in this worthwhile mission. Please keep up the good work. God Bless You.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Answerman28

      The thing that most college graduates pick up on is conceit and ego.. Its pretty funny they think the really have some insite that will save the world LOLOLOL.. They went from mommys house to a dorm and now feel they enlighten everybody. Try spending a few years in reality and then show us how YOU have made the world a better place.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  12. Eastern Catholic

    This article gravely misquotes and takes out of context the Pew study from which it was supposedly based. The Church's numbers are not doing what they claim. I am not a Roman Catholic. I am an Eastern Catholic (one of the 21 independent Churches in full communion with the Roman Church). Better reporting was expected. The last acceptable prejudice to have in this country is against Catholics. Shame on CNN for being part of that discrimination.

    June 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  13. nottolate

    “I never really got exposed to Christ," she says. "It was more about Mary and the Church"

    We told you so. Catholics are not Christian at all...not even one of em.

    June 20, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • christy

      Funny, because in mass every Sunday, Mary is rarely mentioned. I am far more spiritually fed in a Catholic Church than I ever was in a Protestant church. I'm glad you think that Catholics don't believe Jesus is their Lord and Savior though. Keep on hiding in your bigotry, though.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  14. Andrew

    I was born and raised in a household where one parent was Catholic and one was Protestant, after being exposed to both religions I chose the Catholic Church, was confirmed, and will continue to practice the faith. It is not a surprise that people today are leaving the Catholic Church. The primary reason for this is because it’s actually difficult to be a practicing Catholic. We live in a society today that is constantly looking for the easy way out, and where people need to feel good about themselves all the time. Considering everyone is a sinner, if you don’t feel guilty about your actions from time to time you simply are not acknowledging your own sinfulness.
    The individual described in this article that attended Catholic school and Mass on a regular basis, but somehow was not “exposed” to Jesus Christ, clearly missed the entire focal point of the Catholic service. The whole concept of the Eucharist, is the reception of Christ both spiritually and physically.

    June 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Catholic/Christian dogma teaches that people should feel guilty about existing in the first place. Sorry, but that kind of doctrine, and the threat of eternal torture is why many are leaving, and many others are just thinking critically about their beliefs, and finding that it is illogical, immoral, divisive, and incapable of presenting anything resembling evidence to it's own "thruthfullness".

      June 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • KMW

      Andrew,

      Great comment!!! I am so glad that you chose the Catholic Church and are still practicing. There are many out there who agree with you but the dissenters are loud and vocal. The Church is thriving and will continue to do so.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I was born and raised in a household where one parent was Catholic and one was Protestant.
      My sister wound up nominally Anglican and I an atheist.
      Each of their respective clergymen refused to marry them since neither would convert, nor agree to raise their children in one of the faiths.
      I am grateful that they allowed their children to make up our own minds when it comes to spirituality.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      You are so correct Andrew. Catholicism is for serious people. It is a difficult faith to adhere to. People seeking a lukewarm fuzzy feeling kind of religion should look elsewhere. I think that is fine for them. Personally, I am grateful for the grace to practice becoming a better Catholic.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Mark

      No Hawaiigust you are wrong that is Nilizam and is based in the Arean herisey. Most of our exisitng athiests as Nilist.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      Mark: Pick up a dictionary. Learn to spell, please

      June 22, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  15. hippypoet

    Awakened Desire

    I dream of a night where i can blink eye and put out the light.
    It's obvious to me now to get to sleep is held by slits allow.
    When it came time for shut-eye and goodbye.
    My spirit was set free for great depravity.
    I bit my lip and clenched my fist,
    But these tainted desires, these thoughts persist.
    At the reach of each arm lay a tangible temptation.
    Through the act of sin i find i love this abomination.
    I caress her legs and run my fingers down her skin.
    The warmth of her body, like a blanket I wrap myself in.
    I @ssume her throne and bathe in her power.
    I rock her earth and debase her flower.
    Shy the sigh and give to scream instead.
    Don't hold back, Lay with three in the artists bed.
    One for me and one for you,
    Lets find out what an extra four lips can do.
    You have your toy and I have mine.
    How fast can you make those eyes shine?
    I make you my own and show you my cure.
    You'll never walk right again, that you can be sure.
    So I pull out and set my loin free.
    I see in friends eye desire my specter be.
    She charges hell's inferno and makes me her own.
    But little does this wretch know there is no room for her on my throne.
    Know if others fire burns in my eye, there will be no sleep for me.
    For I find I have a grave gift of deplorable debauchery.

    June 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  16. Simle

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • DearbornGuy

      Simle – just an observation. Can you let me know where all the atheist news sites are? Some folks here might want to go and hang out there and tell them what idiots they all are. Seems just so interesting to me that so many non-believers love to hang out at religious news sites to do the same. It is your right, after all. But it does make me wonder what compels so many lof you all to come to these sites and tell others how smart you are, and how misguided we all are. So, just wondering if you can let all us "believers" know where your news sites are so we can go make comments about your lack of faith.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Jackblac

      dearborn...you sure do sound bitter...does the truth that Simle said really bother you that much? I mean, it's true isn't it? And you know, you are an American...you have the right to ignore whatever is written...if you don't like it, don't read it. Just like Simle can say whatever he/she wants to say about gits like you.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Dearborn, plenty of atheist sites to find out there and many of them would love you to visit but you better have a good argument why your religion is real and all the others are make believe.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • DearbornGuy

      JackBlac – not bitter at all. Just fascinates me that non-believers flock to these sites to tell believers are how ridiculous they are. It would be easy to ignore them, but I'd perfer rational discussion, which rarely happens. Is it part of an atheist "faith" to tear down believers? Just wondering the motivavtion. No one ever seems to want to answer that question, but many get all over people of faith for having the gall to spread their views. "Just Claims" – I am certain there are. Just wondering what they are. Names? Links?

      June 21, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      'atheist faith' is an oxymoron...faith is belief without evidence which is exactly why we reject the god idea. We come to these sites to help educate the people living according to stories written 2000 years ago by sheep herding men who had few tools to help them discover the evidence. Religion requires exposure. We only ask for evidence that god exists or ever existed (and telling us if we want proof that we only need to open our hearts or read the buybull or look around us is absurd...those things still do not prove a god's existence).

      June 21, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • An Atheist

      Dearborn guy,

      Open your eyes when you drive down the street and look for all the church signs that imply atheists are stupid and are going to burn, how many people come knocking on your door to do the same, how many christian messages are on commercials and how many tv channels are committed to religion. You don't notice because you are in agreement.

      And you have to deal with a blog that you don't have to visit.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Dearborn guy. I have wondered the same thing. My supposition is that there is a fair amount of fascination with something which remains beyond their comprehension. Despite obvious intellectual prowess, atheists seem to lack the ability to grasp what is readily apparent to people of faith. They demand proof and explanations within the context of their cognitive processes and denigrate anything that lies outside of their vision. I have come to consider it a congenital condition. I think they are just born that way. It is actually not a kindness for us to irritate them with concepts beyond their comprehnsion

      June 21, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Answerman28

      @Deerbornguy.. There is both a religious forum and an atheist forum on craigs list. I really dont recommend you take you fairy tails to the atheist page as they tend to deal with facts not fantasy. In the religion forum however you will find many like minded ppl who refuse embrace the facts or the 21st century for that matter.

      June 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "My supposition is that there is a fair amount of fascination with something which remains beyond their comprehension."

      Bill,

      No one is as good at being condescening as a Catholic. your guys are the BEST.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • DearbornGuy

      TruthPrevails: but even science can't explain everything (and I'm not talking miracles), so how do we know? Is it not possible that we don't understand everything yet? Including God? Just know thos "sheep herders," as you call them, were willing to die for what they believed, so their belief in what they saw must have been very strong. And millions – millions – of others since then have believed as well, including brilliant men, so either it was the greatest hoax in history, or there is something to it. As I have said before, I'll take my chances on believing. If you, and others don't, that's your preference. "An Atheist" – not sure where you see those signs, but not in my part of the country, and I don't agree that it's my job to tell you you will burn in hell. Answerman28 – this comment – "In the religion forum however you will find many like minded ppl who refuse embrace the facts or the 21st century for that matter" Thanks for proving my point. Too many "like-minded" folks like you want to tear down believers. Why is that?

      June 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Veritas

      Just because you suffer from verbal diahorrea doesn't make you any more credible. You've got so many non-facts it's sad. To save falling intoyour trap and being boring, I'll just say that God so LOVED the world that He sent His only Son to die for ALL men so sins could be forgiven. All you have to do is believe!
      God wants us ALL with Him in Heaven but as Jesus said: "No-one can come to the Father except through Me"

      God will NOT send us to Hell. We CHOOSE freely.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Veritas is a Putz

      That is all.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  17. Glenn

    When they all (denominations) have their say, I'm left wondering if Jesus would recognize the church he had envisioned.

    June 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • justme

      only Jehovah's Witnesses so far would be recognized as true followers or worshippers of Jesus' father as he was. at least that has been my observation.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • nottolate

      @justme

      only Jehovah's Witnesses so far would be recognized as true followers or worshippers of Jesus' father as he was. at least that has been my observation.

      Then just what are you looking at? JWs meet the theological definition of a cult just like Mormons. I suggest you finally pick up a bible and start reading.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • justme

      not, you do not know much about JWs or you would not parrot what someone said because these are the only people that actually read, study and teach the bible in its entirety so if you really want to learn what the bible really teaches go to the only authorized site "watchtower.org" and you can learn what a cult is and what it is not. I sincerely hope you will go there and listen to and talk to the next one who brings you the truth.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • justme

      hopefully you will come back and resume the discussion seriously and i do read the bible every day.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      My personal feeling is that truth does not lie within denominations but within the hearts of men. Jesus said in John "I know mine and mine know me." I am content with that. Whatever description we apply to ourselves, it is just that, a description based on man's views. Jesus knows who is His and so does His flock.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  18. Sortakinda

    Anyone with a sense of irony has to see how many more nonbelievers than believers post on the Religion Blog. Does it have to do with an innate need to give testimony and be JUSTIFIED? Oh, wait. That's what believers do. Ironic. Believers know by faith the details that nonbelievers take such pains to deny.

    June 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Glenn

      Being subjected to the teachings of the church in a western society means that believers end up being subjected to an oppossing view. Don't over analyse. Neither one of us of the privilige of living apart from the rest of society.
      Were just spreading the word so society can never be as skewed as it once was.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Glenn

      Non-believers know that if answer involve the use of your imagination only, then no proof is necessary. This is what you have...no proof.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Sortakinda,

      how is it ironic that non-believers have a need to have their voices heard? Seems self-evident to me. Everyone has the same needs:
      – Physiological / air food shelter etc
      – Safety / employment laws health
      – Love/Belonging / family relationships
      – Esteem / achievement respect of others
      – Self Actualization / morality creativity

      The reason religion exists is to fill needs covering belonging, esteem and self-acutalization. That's great for people who embrace it, but for others, such thinking to them self-delusional. Do you blame them for rejecting that which to them is not real?

      June 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • JWT

      Well GOP I don't need this one

      Love/Belonging / family relationships.

      And skor – the point for a lot of us is that religion does not set the rules for us and we will resist any attempt to return to a society where some religion thinks that it can. The gay marriage issue is an excellent example of this.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @JWT

      My apologies, but there really should be a comma there and as written is misleading. It is intended to convey family, intimate relationships, friendships, etc.

      I certainly wouldn't try to force it on you, but I thought I would clarify it anyway.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • DearbornGuy

      Exactly. I just posted nearly the same thing. Except I want to know where all the atheist news sites are! It always amazes me that so many non-believing posters are so adamant to tell us how smart they are and how misguided people of faith are. Why are they here in the first place? There's a heck of a lot of people of faith who can discuss doctrine, belief, etc., without getting into each other's face.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Faith is pretending to know something you don't know. It is not a virtue.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • JellyBean@DearbornGuy

      "I want to know where all the atheist news sites are!"

      Dude, J F G I.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Atheist insight – My soul yearns but my mind rebels
      Christian insight – I will seek for what I yearn for

      June 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • JWT

      Well Bill the only thing I ever yearn for is my wife when she is away. Your presumptions are incorrect.

      June 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      According to Catholics, your love for your wife is an earthly manifestation of your love for God. Blessings to you both.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  19. DearbornGuy

    Here's the deal: I'm Catholic/Christian, and I believe in God. Many of you posters do not believe. That's okay. I live my life according to my faith. And you all live yours according to your "faith." One of us is right. I'll take my chances.

    June 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • JWT

      We could both be right too.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • sam stone

      They could both be wrong

      June 21, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • kebos

      No, DearbornGuy is highly likely to be wrong.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • DearbornGuy

      JWT – maybe we are! sam stone, kebos – as I said, I'm more than willing to take my chances that I am right. Isn't that what faith is all about? The worst thing that could happen is that I live a good and holy life.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @DearBornGuy
      The worst that could happen is eternal damnation.
      Valhalla is just as likely as Heaven. Should we all seek to die gloriously in battle?
      Perhaps the Mormons have it right and we need to learn the Sealings, Secret Handshakes and secret new names to get to The Celestial Kingdom.
      There's just as much chance that Ma'at will judge you by weighing your heart against a shu feather as there is that St. Peter will review your deeds at the Pearly Gates.
      It could be that Heaven is for Presbetyrians. Ever hear of a Presbetyrian Holy War?
      If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities using faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      (With apologies to Steve Martin)

      How to run the universe the way you want. First, get a universe.............

      June 21, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • JWT

      Well Dearborn the worst that can happen to me is that I led a good life as well.

      June 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • DearbornGuy

      JWT – if that is the case, then excellent!

      June 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  20. junior

    Loving the mother church every day. It has redeemed me from the abyss of apathy. Praise the Lord. One Church that Jesus gave us, One chuch that still upholds his instructions.

    June 20, 2012 at 5:43 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.