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July 11th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Ex-Scientologist: Cruise was top church recruit

Montreal, Quebec (CNN) - For the secretive Church of Scientology, "there was no bigger recruit than Tom Cruise."

The top Hollywood actor's membership in the Church beginning in 1986 "was huge," says Karen Pressley - a former Commanding Officer of the Church's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood from 1987 to 1989.

"My job was to ensure that celebrities were recruited, that celebrities were well serviced within our organization, and also to open up new celebrity centers around the world," she told CNN.

The high-profile marriage split between Cruise and actress Katie Holmes, who was raised Catholic, has re-ignited media interest in Scientology's influence in Hollywood.

Related story: What is Scientology? 

A joint statement released Monday to announce their divorce settlement said, "We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other's roles as parents." It's not known if Holmes joined the Church of Scientology.

Cruise is just one of many celebrity members of the church, including John Travolta, Jenna Elfman and Kirstie Alley.

See photos of other Scientology celebs

But Cruise was among Scientology's biggest fish, says Pressley. "Is there a bigger name than Tom? We called him TC."

Church founder L. Ron Hubbard realized celebrities were key to his mission, according to the Scientology website.

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

"The world is carried on the backs of a desperate few," Hubbard is quoted as saying on the site. By "the few," Hubbard was referring to leaders in the realm of art, politics, industry, and sports. To cater to these people specifically, the church formed a special branch of Church of Scientology called the Celebrity Centre International. With locations around the world, Hollywood's celebrity center was established in 1969.

Its aim: to provide celebrities "… with a practical technology for improving one's happiness and creativity," the website says.

The church opens the Celebrity Centres for public tours. The Hollywood center offers classes and even a Sunday brunch, according to the website.

According to Pressley, celebrities get special perks including private entrances and course rooms, along with access to a VIP lounge.

She says Hubbard targeted celebrities specifically to add credibility to the Church's beliefs and to encourage more people to join.

Pressley, who was a Scientologist for 16 years, described internal wish lists and strategies discussed among church leaders in the 1980s to recruit other celebrities - including Brad Pitt and Demi Moore. Those discussions about how to bring Moore and Pitt into the fold never bore fruit, Pressley said.

The church would work to win over celebrity recruits, Pressley said, by giving them individual attention and by explaining how Scientology could help them achieve their highest goals as artists.

In exchange for tailored treatment, Pressley says Scientology leaders expected celebrities to stay committed to the church's teachings and speak glowingly of its benefits.

Many of them do exactly that. Travolta's spouse, Kelly Preston, credited Scientology with helping the couple cope with the death of their son, Jett.  Alley said the Church helped her overcome a drug addiction.

As for Cruise, he has publicly touted the benefits of church teachings, famously debating NBC's Matt Lauer about the church's stand against psychiatric drugs. More recently, Cruise told Playboy magazine that Scientology offers him a "search for how I can do things better, whether it's being a better man or a better father or finding ways for myself to improve."

"Individuals have to decide what is true and real for them," Cruise said.

Watch Cruise talk about Scientology

Like many faiths, Scientology prides itself on providing couples with communication tools to succeed at marriage. "It works," the church website says. "Whether applied to marital or personal relationships, to one's family or career or simply one's personal peace of mind – Scientology changes conditions for the better."

But Pressley says, as Scientology's celebrity poster child divorces for a third time, it hurts the church and Cruise.

"What does that say about .. a senior level Scientologist like Tom - TC?" Pressley asks. "What does that say about his ability to succeed in relationships? I think it's a huge statement."

The church has only said the divorce is "a private family matter " between Holmes and Cruise and said it "will continue to respect their privacy."

In response to CNN's questions about the relationship between the Church and celebrities, Church spokeswoman Karin Pouw said in a statement, “The Church does not speak about the beliefs and practices of parishioners.”

“Scientology appeals to men and women in all walks of life, as do other major religions," the statement continued. "The perception that it uniquely appeals to those in the arts is a misperception conveyed by the media. There are as many reasons individuals turn to Scientology as there are parishioners, but generally Scientology offers answers to age-old questions, spiritual awareness and greater ability because it provides tools they can use in life.” (Read Pouw's entire statement below.)

In an earlier statement, Pouw commented about Pressley and other members speaking out against Scientology. "...the Church regrets that excommunicated self-serving apostates are sadly exploiting private family matters to further their hate-filled agendas against their former faith. Having left the Church many years ago, these sources have no current knowledge about the Church and their recollections are distorted by their animosity."

Pressley left the Church in 1998, after she "became so disillusioned by what I had earlier believed in, I couldn't live with myself and I no longer chose to allow the Church to control my life."

Splitting with Scientology, she says, is not an easy task - especially for high level officials.

"You don't have the freedom to make a choice like that just to walk out. You have to get permission," she says. "But in order to get permission you have to go through an intensive security check, interrogation procedure before you can be approved to leave."

Now that she's speaking out, Pressley says she's concerned about her safety.

"But," she says, "I can't remain silent about things that matter and I deal with it as it happens."

Editor's note: Below is the complete July 10 statement from Church of Scientology International spokeswoman Karin Pouw to CNN responding to questions surrounding its report about celebrities and the Church.

"The Church does not speak about the beliefs and practices of parishioners. I have never seen CNN ask the Roman Catholic Church to discuss an individual parishioner by name and it points out the insensitivity of your questions.

Scientology appeals to men and women in all walks of life, as do other major religions. The perception that it uniquely appeals to those in the arts is a misperception conveyed by the media. There are as many reasons individuals turn to Scientology as there are parishioners, but generally Scientology offers answers to age‐old questions, spiritual awareness and greater ability because it provides tools they can use in life.

The Scientology religion is enjoying a period of tremendous growth with new Churches opening throughout the world. Each has a Public Information Center providing hundreds of videos about the religion and our social and humanitarian programs in the fields of drug education and rehabilitation, education, criminal reform, morals and human rights. Anyone desiring correct information about the Church can find it at one of these churches or on our website, www.scientology,org."

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Celebrity • Scientology • TV-Anderson Cooper 360

soundoff (1,662 Responses)
  1. Beadles

    Re: leaving Scientology. You have to be approved to leave? Go through some kind of interrogation? What happens if you just stop going to their facility? (Refuse to call it a church – even tho' I'm not religious – a cult is a cult). Do they send goons after you – kind of like if you go AWOL from the military you are subject to arrest. What truly irritates me is how they get a tax exemption – I don't think it's (as one poster said) a ponzi scheme. I just think it is a case of similar minds (read "nut jobs") finding comfort in a group of their own kind.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Bugmenot

      Yeah they do crazy crap like fire up the goon squad.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  2. andrea

    Permission to leave? That's funny.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  3. talkic

    Blah Blah Blah. Poor little TC...might need meds to get through this.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  4. funny Scientology moron

    there's no other religion out there I can think of that you actually have to ask to leave. something seriously not right about that.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Guest

      That's because, God gave us the free will to make our own choices, and if we chose to leave, we are free to do that. Cults control people, there is a difference!

      July 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Ask any Muslim what's involved in "leaving the faith"...

      July 11, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Mott_the_Hoople

      I have no first-hand knowledge of this, but I actually find it hard to believe that you "have to ask permission to leave". Just leave! What are they going to do, come to your house and kidnap you? Sure, they may try to talk you into coming back, but that is all.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  5. Ophiuchus

    Blaming religion, cult, or whatever on Hollywood's notorious consistency rate on divorce is absurd. This type of thing has been happening for some time. I think it is quite stupid to even indulge this on the front page of CNN.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • ME II

      @Ophiuchus,
      I don't know that anyone is "blaming" Scientology for the divorce, although I'm guessing it was part of the problem. The divorce is just an excuse to write an article on the church and its Celebrity Center.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  6. larryjosephmunchkin

    Let's see, they believe in alien beings and fairy dust. Is that right?

    July 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Any difference between that and believing in an invisible magic-man in the sky?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  7. Libdumb

    Weirdos. Please provide a list of Hollywood names so I never engage in any entertainment that they are involved with on TV or the Movies. Thanks but no thanks. The Geneva convention prohibits brainwash

    July 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • GypsyGal

      Here you go. This list also names a few who sobered up and quit drinking the kool-aid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Scientologists

      July 11, 2012 at 11:07 am |
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    July 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  9. TheAmazingMrGeneric

    A college droput who was convicted of theft and fraud. Wrote pulp fiction, dabbled in the occult and stole his friends girl friends. Again, I'll pass on the Scientology Kool Aid.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard

    July 11, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • apostate

      I think LRon started scientology as a joke and died before he could tell any one.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  10. Kevin Barbieux

    A well organized and successful cult is still a cult.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Just like the Jewish cult, Christian cult, Muslim cult, etc.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  11. Guest

    I really wish they would stop referring to this as a religion! It's a CULT and nothing more!

    July 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • revansatoda

      All religions are cults.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  12. Frank

    Does Scientology have anything to do with Christianity? I did not think they did but was wondering about their symbol of the cross.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Guest

      No, it does not. They don't believe in a higher power! Look it up online!

      July 11, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • steve

      Absolutely nothing at all to do with Christianity.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Frank

      I know that it does not have anything to do with Christianity but the use of the cross is odd.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  13. mylife55

    Crooks with a capitol 'C' !!!!

    July 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I referring to Catholics or Christians in general?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  14. Benjamin

    Scientology was started by a science fiction writer. Is there really anything else to know?

    July 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Beadles

      Well said.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Kevin Barbieux

      Brigham Young was also a science fiction writer

      July 11, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • LOL

      Kevin, what about all the guys that wrote the Bible? They're all story books. No real reason to single anybody out.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Bugmenot

      Hubbard's daddy breathed it in his ear, don't ya know?

      July 11, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  15. conrad

    What does being a celebrity have to do with spiritual truth?

    Sounds more like the most common lie of all – that some people are more valuable than others. That is the common lie that runs rampant and hurts us all. That lie makes us worry about our beautiful wrinkles and percieved imperfections.

    Is it the church of ego?

    July 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  16. Turban

    EWW I am vomiting in my mouth right now

    July 11, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  17. Topher

    Good morning, all! If anyone has a theological question about Christianity, feel free to ask ...

    July 11, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Bob

      Why does uber-powerful Christian god need humans to do his sales and marketing for him, and why is his book so flawed?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Frank

      Ok. Do you really believe the creator of the universe raped and inpregnated a poor virgin Jewis girl with himself over 2000 years ago? This "god" then pops out as his own son who then supposedly does all kinds of magic tricks for 30 odd years, gets nailed to a cross and dies, rises from the dead after 3 days then gets whisked into the sky to paradise and then if we don't believe it we will burn for eternity?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Topher

      Bob

      Flawed? Such as?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Topher

      Frank ... No.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Dave

      OK, here's a good one for you... explain the trinity. Either Jesus is a man, or a ghost, right? He can't be both at the same time. So, shouldn't Christian religion be represented by a duality, rather than a trinity?

      Second... Why do they call it "Good Friday"? According to the Biblical story, Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Wouldn't that make it "Really Horrible Friday?" even for his believers? If anything, the following Sunday, should be "Good Sunday."

      July 11, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Frank

      Lol...."No"?!....lol...I'm glad you have all the answers.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • tallulah13

      Why couldn't your god reach the New World until humans with navigation skills built sea-worthy vessels and took him - 1500 years after the death of Christ? Why did your god allow MILLIONS of people to be born, become sinners and eventually die, only to be tortured for eternity, without letting them know that he even existed?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Guest

      Oh man, did you open a HUGE can of worms with your post! Good luck. It's going to be interesting to see how you answer these questions, and they are some good ones too! Go for it, this ought to be good!

      July 11, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Topher

      Dave

      "... explain the trinity. Either Jesus is a man, or a ghost, right? He can't be both at the same time. So, shouldn't Christian religion be represented by a duality, rather than a trinity?"

      Ah, the Trinity. It can be a difficult one, even for a lot of Christians. First, there is one God, but there are 3 persons making up one God ... God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Jesus is fully man and fully God. But Jesus is not also the Holy Spirit. All 3 persons exist at the same time (not one at a time).

      "Second... Why do they call it "Good Friday"? According to the Biblical story, Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Wouldn't that make it "Really Horrible Friday?" even for his believers? If anything, the following Sunday, should be "Good Sunday."

      Well, I'm sure for Jesus' friends and family that day was "Really Horrible Friday" as they saw their loved-one taken from them and watched Him suffer. But Christians call it good Friday because of the Gospel ... because of what His death on the cross meant. Let's establish that we are all sinners. The Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And because God is just, He must punish us for our sins. That means we all deserve to be sent to Hell. So what Jesus did on the cross was take the punishment we all deserve so that if we repent (not just say we are sorry, but turn from the sins) and trust in Him, we can freely walk out of God's courtroom and go to Heaven when we die. Now that's some really good news and that's why we call it Good Friday. Easter, where He rose again 3 days later proves Jesus has defeated death ... that the sacrifice worked.

      Do you realize how big that is? If Jesus hadn't risen again, you could throw it all out. But if He did rise, nothing else in the world matters in comparison.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Calm Dog

      Some flaws.
      http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/paul_carlson/nt_contradictions.html

      July 11, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • B

      I don't know if this would be considered theological, but did Jesus like the smell of his own farts?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Topher

      Guest

      Haha. It could be a can of worms, but I'm used to it. I take on these questions almost every day. It usually turns into a very interesting discussion. I don't pretend to know everything, but I answer the best I can. Hope you stick around ... and hey, ask me something yourself. 🙂

      July 11, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Topher wrote: "there is one God" Really? How do you know?

      Then he writes about Jesus having risen... By any chance was he related to Harry Houdini? I hear that he also performed similar illusions...

      July 11, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Who invited me?

      Topher...
      Here's a question?
      What is your take on ex-scientologist: Cruise was top church recruit...
      Nothing? Just trolling through this blog in a desperate attempt to justify your belief in fairy tales.
      Offering to answer theological questions, but never really answering when it comes down to it, falling back on bible quotes when someone poses questions that show the flaws in the book, the thinking, the mindlessness of religion.
      Good luck with that you troll.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      Topher, why do you think it's okay that a man was tortured to death so that you don't have to be accountable for your own actions? And what are those sins that are so awful that murder of an innocent is the only absolution? Wouldn't a just and loving god simply forgive those who are truly remorseful? Why was a human sacrifice needed?

      July 11, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • tallulah13

      I was hoping Topher would get back to me on my first question before I had to leave for work, but no joy. I guess I'll check when I get home tonight.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • B

      I have a theory. If Jesus enjoyed the smell of his own farts, he must of been mere mortal, because we all do enjoy our own secret recipe. However, if he was immortal, he wouldn't enjoy his own farts because who in their right mind would really want to enjoy the smell of a fart? I don't enjoy the smell of other people's farts. I guess we will never know the answer.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Topher

      tallulah13

      "Why did your god allow MILLIONS of people to be born, become sinners and eventually die, only to be tortured for eternity, without letting them know that he even existed?"

      We spent all day on this question yesterday. It's a difficult one, but I'll try to answer it again. You used "allow" correctly. God allows us to make choices. It's called free will. We make the choice to sin, to reject His word. But you are wrong when you say we don't know He exists. First, we can look at creation and know there must have been a Creator. Second, whenever you sin, you've got that little feeling of guilt. You know it's wrong. That's because God has written His laws on our heart. Third, we read in Romans chapter one ... "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."

      July 11, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • B

      Maybe Jesus enjoyed his own farts until the resurrection. He then came to his senses and realized his farts smelled awful. A resurrected fart must be the worse smelling thing on the planet.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Topher

      tallulah13

      "Topher, why do you think it's okay that a man was tortured to death so that you don't have to be accountable for your own actions?"

      It wasn't just a man. It was God. And I think it is OK because without His sacrifice I'd be destined for Hell. I've sinned against Him and deserve to be punished. In fact, I've broken all 10 Commandments. And there's nothing I can do to make up for those things. For instance, if I were in court and found guilty of a very serious crime, I can't say to the judge, "Your Honor, yeah, I killed that woman, but I've been good since then. I've helped old ladies cross the street and given a lot of money to orphans. Please let me go." The judge would say, "Yes, those are good things, but they have nothing to do with your crime. You still must pay for that." That's how it works here. I still must pay for my crimes (sins). So the only way to go to Heaven is through the work of Christ. How loving is that?! Despite the fact all my sins were/are directed at Him, He still chose to suffer and die for me. What a great God!

      "And what are those sins that are so awful that murder of an innocent is the only absolution? Why was a human sacrifice needed?"

      Have you ever read the Old Testament? Remember all those sacrifices the people were doing? They were for the covering of the people's sins until the Messiah came. For instance, remember what happened at Passover? The people had to take the blood of a lamb and put it on their doorposts so that death would pass over them. That's a little picture of what was to happen with Christ. Leviticus 17 says "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."

      Also note that those lambs always had to be "spotless", meaning perfect. You needed someone perfect to pay for your sins. Jump to the New Testament ... remember what John the Baptist called Jesus when he first saw Him? "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Jesus was God's lamb. He was sent to be a "ransom for many." That's why we don't have to sacrifice anymore. The atoning work has already been done.

      I hope that answered your question.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Xdoc

      Ok, here's another one. Why are there so many contradictions in the Bible? And so many ambiguities? For a perfect book inspired by God, it sure does make alot of mistakes. Here's one:

      Which first–beasts or man?

      GEN 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
      GEN 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

      GEN 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
      GEN 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Tallulah13

      You didn't answer my question, topher.Those millions I spoke of didn't even know your god existed, because they were born, lived and died before Europeans crossed the ocean and brought the news. Free will isn't even in the equation. Why did you god wait 1500 years?

      As for your other answer, what you are saying is the reason for your faith is purely selfish. You are okay with a guy being tortured to death, as long as it means that you don't face the consequences for those sins you freely admit to. Good to know.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Topher

      Tallulah13

      You didn't answer my question, topher.Those millions I spoke of didn't even know your god existed, because they were born, lived and died before Europeans crossed the ocean and brought the news. Free will isn't even in the equation. Why did you god wait 1500 years?"

      Why did He wait 1500 years? I can't answer that question. But all that other stuff I said, about how people can know there's a God without having read the Bible, that still stands. God has revealed Himself to all of us. God promises that if we seek Him we will find Him. So if those people had faith, I'm sure God revealed Himself to them in some way. How? No idea.

      "As for your other answer, what you are saying is the reason for your faith is purely selfish. You are okay with a guy being tortured to death, as long as it means that you don't face the consequences for those sins you freely admit to. Good to know."

      That's not the reason for my faith, but it certainly is beneficial to me, isn't it? Why are you concerned if I'm OK with it? That's how it has happened and that's how it works. This was an act out of love. God voluntarily did this. Why isn't this a good deal?

      July 11, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Topher

      Xdoc

      "Ok, here's another one. Why are there so many contradictions in the Bible? And so many ambiguities? For a perfect book inspired by God, it sure does make alot of mistakes. Here's one:

      Which first–beasts or man?"

      I wouldn't call the Bible perfect. There are plenty of copy errors and misspellings. But nothing of importance and we already know about them. Like these verses you bring up ... I see your point, but all of this happened on the same day, Day 6, so I'm not sure why this matters. Notice the verses say "And God" not "Then God" so these verses aren't necessarily chronological. For all we know this could have all happened at the exact same time.

      July 11, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Xdoc

      "I wouldn't call the Bible perfect. There are plenty of copy errors and misspellings. But nothing of importance and we already know about them. Like these verses you bring up ... I see your point, but all of this happened on the same day, Day 6, so I'm not sure why this matters."

      First of all, it matters because if I am to believe other verses of the Bible, which is where you learn that there is a God and God performed all of these wonderful things hence you should worship him, then it has to be very consistent. And by the way, there are way more inconsistencies than the one I just named. If it was a couple, I would say, "Well, ok, a couple of mistakes aren't that bad", but we're talking upwards of more than 20-30 contradictions that I have found at least. Here's another one:

      Is god merciful or vengeful?

      PSA 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

      JER 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

      July 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      God reveals himself to all of us? That's complete bs and you know it. If god revealed himself, there would be no need for the bible, and only be one religion. As far as I can tell, you are making things up to rationalize what you want to believe.

      As for the other, I was taught that I am responsible for my own actions. I think it's immoral and cowardly to allow someone else should be punished in my stead.

      July 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Xdoc

      My whole point is this: Without the Bible/Torah/Koran, then we would not have this concept of the Christian, Jewish or Muslim God. This means that everyone who is in those religions learned about "God" from these scriptures written less than 2000 years ago and compiled one by one, very selectively I might add, throughout the next 1200 years by MAN, believes in an incorrectly written account of visions, inspiriations or miracles of God.

      July 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Topher

      Xdoc

      "First of all, it matters because if I am to believe other verses of the Bible, which is where you learn that there is a God and God performed all of these wonderful things hence you should worship him, then it has to be very consistent. And by the way, there are way more inconsistencies than the one I just named. If it was a couple, I would say, "Well, ok, a couple of mistakes aren't that bad", but we're talking upwards of more than 20-30 contradictions that I have found at least."

      Oh, I know there are other "inconsistancies". I give you credit for not starting out with the rabbit one. That seems to be a favorite here. But you have to understand we've been looking into these claims for 2000 years. They can be explained. Granted, if your heart is hardened to it then you don't want to hear that there are explanations. But they are there. These difference certainly make the Bible look untrustworthy, but if you continue to study up on them, you'll see these aren't really inconsistancies at all.

      "Here's another one: Is god merciful or vengeful?
      PSA 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
      JER 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them."

      It seems to me He is both. He is good to us in that He gives us life, air to breathe, eyes to see, and even forgiveness for our sins. But He is also wrathful. If you continue to reject and war against Him, it is only just that He squash you like a bug.

      I went to look up that verse in Jeremiah. When studying the Bible it is good to never just read one verse. It can be taken out of context too easily. So first I want to point out that this is part of a short parable. It is talking about how Israel will be basically stumbling, out of control and victims of destruction when they get invaded. Remember, the main theme of Jeremiah is judgment on Judah with restoration in the future.

      July 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Topher

      Tallulah13

      "God reveals himself to all of us? That's complete bs and you know it. If god revealed himself, there would be no need for the bible, and only be one religion. As far as I can tell, you are making things up to rationalize what you want to believe."

      Apparently I don't know it. I fully believe it just from my own experience. I didn't grow up in the church. In fact, I was an angry, raging atheist throughout my teen years. And although I claimed not to believe and sought out Christians to try and deflate their faith, I remember knowing in my mind there must be some sort of God. I just didn't like what the Bible had to say or those "holier-than-thou" Christians. Also, your statement about how there'd be only one religion ... I don't think so. I think even if God audibly spoke to the world today or Jesus somehow made an undeniable appearance there would still be plenty of people who would reject it for many reasons, one being they love their sin too much.

      "As for the other, I was taught that I am responsible for my own actions. I think it's immoral and cowardly to allow someone else should be punished in my stead."

      You can think that if you want, but that's how it works. If you die without the forgiveness offered only through Jesus Christ you WILL pay for your sins yourself. What are you going to say to God on Judgment Day? "I'd like to pay for my sins myself." God will say "OK."

      July 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • just sayin

      Ah Topher but the God you talk about was stolen from the Sumerians who were established thousands of years before the creation of your religion. The roaming Jews simply stole from a religion they came into contact with and made it their own. This helped establish their laws and keep people in order. Your OT lacks credibility and is simply false. Of course 99.9% of Christians don't educate themselves in this area and never know. In a court of law the jews would lose for plagiarism. But hey you don't let facts and evidence get in the way of your "emotions" and "feelings". Of course it was the Sumerians who copied the Jews thousands and thousands of years before the jews came onto the scene right?

      July 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Xdoc

      "It seems to me He is both. He is good to us in that He gives us life, air to breathe, eyes to see, and even forgiveness for our sins. But He is also wrathful. If you continue to reject and war against Him, it is only just that He squash you like a bug. I went to look up that verse in Jeremiah. When studying the Bible it is good to never just read one verse. It can be taken out of context too easily. So first I want to point out that this is part of a short parable. It is talking about how Israel will be basically stumbling, out of control and victims of destruction when they get invaded. Remember, the main theme of Jeremiah is judgment on Judah with restoration in the future."

      I think it'll take a whole lot of text to post all of Jeremiah here. But I am assuming you would know the whole context of Book of Jeremiah. Yes, it was for the tribe of Judah, but the Psalm verse does say he is good to "ALL", he doesn't pick and choose, like in Jeremiah. God kinda does that throughout OT and NT. Then there's Jesus, where one time, just to teach his disciples a lesson, he wilted a tree because it would not bear fruit (Mk. 11:12-24). He could have just made the tree give fruit... a God (or Son of God part of the Trinity... blah blah blah) should be able to do that. I didn't write the verse in order to save space for my response. Should a kind and merciful God do that to a tree? Really? Then goes to a temple that some merchants (or thieves as he called them, so much for "Jesus loves capitalism") used for trading and selling, and overthrows the tables. God kinda acts like a little 3 year old with a temper-tantrum. He could've just asked them to leave nicely. I'm sorry, just those things make me believe there is something "man-made" about these books, and not super-naturally inspired.

      July 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Xdoc

      By the way, I know why he made the fig tree wilt, he just did it to prove a point to his disciples, that prayer can accomplish anything.... even wilting a tree that He made (remember God created plants and trees too) because it didn't give him fruit when he was hungry.

      July 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Topher

      Xdoc

      Not to be nitpicky, just wanted to point out it was the nation of Judah, not just the tribe.

      I still say He is good to all, even those He smushes. I'm guessing you aren't a believer (if you are, no offense intended). So let's just say for the sake of this argument that the God of the Bible is true. Have you thanked God today for the air He is letting you breathe? Did you thank Him for the food you've eaten today? Or for the gift of waking up one more time? If God is real, you should be doing those things. But it goes much deeper than saying thanks. How many times in your whole life have you lied? Or stolen something? Jesus said if you look at someone with lust you've committed adultery with that person in your heart. That's how high God's standard is ... He even sees your thought-life. So despite any evidence He would have given you that He exists, you reject Him and continue to sin against Him. At what point is He just to kill you where you stand? In Acts, God kills 2 people for telling just one lie. It's certainly His right to do it as the God of the universe since He created all things and owns all things.

      Look how many times God made himself obvious to the Jews in the OT. He was performing miracles and appearing and proving Himself. Then you turn to the next chapter and they are off worhipping a false God again. So He smushes them. They never seemed to learn. And neither do we. Jesus walked among us and yet there are those we claim that didn't happen. I'd like to get angry with those people in the OT and say "wake up!" But then I realize I'm just as guilty. Even though I'm a full believer and saved and understand what He went through for me, I still sin. Granted it's not willed sin. But it still happens. If you are an unbeliever, He has every right to smush you, but is showing great grace in allowing you another day to change your mind.

      July 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      So toph, you knew about god before he "revealed himself". How can you say that god reveals himself to people who never had the opportunity to hear about him?

      As for the other, in the unlikely event that I should face judgment from your god, I honestly couldn't say. I hope that I would have the moral courage to take the punishment I earned. It would not be paradise if I had to spend eternity knowing I was an accessory to a murder.

      July 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Topher,
      "Look how many times God made himself obvious to the Jews in the OT. He was performing miracles and appearing and proving Himself."

      No, that's just what the ancient Hebrews *said* happened. There is not a shred of verified evidence that any of it occurred.

      July 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Topher

      Tallulah13

      "So toph, you knew about god before he "revealed himself". How can you say that god reveals himself to people who never had the opportunity to hear about him?"

      Who hasn't had the opportunity? Even if you've never had a Christian talk to you, never heard an evangelist speak, never picked up a copy of the Bible, you still inherintly (sp?) know there must be a God. I understand you find that hard to believe, but it is the case. The Bible even tells us this and so no one has an excuse.

      I know you don't like what the Gospel says in that Christ has paid our penalty for us, but can I ask you a question? Why don't you believe? What is it that makes you think, "this just can't be true"?

      July 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Xdoc

      "Not to be nitpicky, just wanted to point out it was the nation of Judah, not just the tribe."

      There's too many versions of the bible. And Hebrew translation is still a little inconsistent. Hence, how do you know what you read actually meant nation and not tribe or land of? Anyway, I'll jump off that topic.

      You're right, I am not a believer. I just don't need justification for the parts of our existence or universe that we don't understand. I'm fine without having EVERYTHING explained to me, especially by an inconsistent, contradictory set of fairy tales or myth. And no, I cannot say "thank you" to something that does not exist. I need to have something exist to be able to "thank".

      "Look how many times God made himself obvious to the Jews in the OT".

      Why doesn't he make himself "obvious" now in modern times? Oh, you mean the "miracles" of today? The unexplained cancer and AIDS miracles we hear/read about? Maybe the Virgin Mary sandwhich, or the Jesus wood door? Hmm, my only question for these "miracles" are, why does god never magically grow limbs of amputees or folks who lost their limbs at birth? There are plenty of them to go around and "heal in a miracle". But have you heard of one? See, when someone doesn't understand the full nature of everything down to the tiniest little detail (i.e. our bodies fighting viruses/bacteria), we tend to look for some other means of explanation, the #1 answer, being God. It's just humans... our brain pattern, it's who we are, that make those justifications.

      "If you are an unbeliever, He has every right to smush you, but is showing great grace in allowing you another day to change your mind."

      Sucks for those who lived in the OT times... They were just killed outright... Ouch, so much for mercy for them... And by the way, I work to get money which buys food, which pays for the people who get the food, and also for the stove and pots and pans to cook it with, which my wife lovingly prepares. So if anything, I'll thank those people, especially my wife. For me to thank someone else who did not lift a finger to get that stuff done, is ignorant. I'll be waiting for this, "God", to smush me any day now. I bet it won't happen. And yes, I will die some day, and you'll probably think, "See he did smush you, it just took him 50 years to do it, or he sent you to hell after judgement day". Wow, so nice of him to wait so patiently.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      Topher, did you forget the original question? Millions of people in the New World lived and died and never heard about your god because your god didn't "reveal himself" to them until Europeans crossed the ocean 1500 years after Christ died.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • just sayin

      just sayin

      Ah Topher but the God you talk about was stolen from the Sumerians who were established thousands of years before the creation of your religion. The roaming Jews simply stole from a religion they came into contact with and made it their own. This helped establish their laws and keep people in order. Your OT lacks credibility and is simply false. Of course 99.9% of Christians don't educate themselves in this area and never know. In a court of law the jews would lose for plagiarism. But hey you don't let facts and evidence get in the way of your "emotions" and "feelings". Of course it was the Sumerians who copied the Jews thousands and thousands of years before the jews came onto the scene right?

      .
      Crickets................................................ first one must establish the source has credibility before one can claim it as authority. Topher you have failed to do this crucial part of the process. Glossing over this does not change it.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • just sayin

      Tallulah13

      Topher, did you forget the original question?
      .
      He didn't forget. He is here to witness and declare, not discuss. The are huge oink elephants in this room that he is looking away from. Do not expect him to respond.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • just sayin

      oink?? PINK lol

      July 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      Topher, I don't believe in your god, or in any god, because there is no rational reason to believe in something for which there is no evidence.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Topher

      Xdoc

      "Hence, how do you know what you read actually meant nation and not tribe or land of? Anyway, I'll jump off that topic."

      That's fine, we don't need to discuss this topic. I just would point out that you have to remember the Jews were divided up into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) somewhere in I or II Kings.

      "Why doesn't he make himself "obvious" now in modern times?"

      How do you know He isn't? Perhaps He's put me and you together today to have this conversation for a reason.

      "Oh, you mean the "miracles" of today? Maybe the Virgin Mary sandwhich, or the Jesus wood door?"

      I don't believe in any of that, either.

      "Hmm, my only question for these "miracles" are, why does god never magically grow limbs of amputees or folks who lost their limbs at birth? There are plenty of them to go around and "heal in a miracle". But have you heard of one?"

      This might be hard to comprehend, but perhaps those people were given those challenges for a reason. It's kind of like asking why God would give a pastor cancer. There could be lots of reasons. For instance, perhaps someone who has cancer or is struggling with the loss of a loved one will see that the pastor's faith isn't shaken with the threat of death and that person will get saved. These are some of the things we just won't know until we get to Heaven.

      "Sucks for those who lived in the OT times... They were just killed outright... Ouch, so much for mercy for them..."

      "I'll be waiting for this, "God", to smush me any day now. I bet it won't happen. And yes, I will die some day, and you'll probably think, "See he did smush you, it just took him 50 years to do it, or he sent you to hell after judgement day". Wow, so nice of him to wait so patiently."

      It might not happen. For whatever His reasoning, He might let you live to be very old. But then you could get hit by a car on your way home tonight. None of us are promised another day. And yes, we all will die. Including me. The wages of sin is death. Because of sin, death entered the world. But isn't it great to know God is going to restore all things to as they were before Adam fell? No more death. No more disease. No more suffering. No more tears. Wow!

      July 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Topher

      Tallulah13

      "Topher, I don't believe in your god, or in any god, because there is no rational reason to believe in something for which there is no evidence."

      Can I give you proof of God? Probably none that you'd accept. But if you're open to it, there's plenty of evidence. But you'd have to be open to it.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Oh this should be good. Go on Topher, what d you have?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      Toph, you still haven't answered my first question. Why did god allow millions to live and die without the offer of salvation?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Xdoc

      ""Why doesn't he make himself "obvious" now in modern times?"

      How do you know He isn't? Perhaps He's put me and you together today to have this conversation for a reason."

      In order for something to "put" someone together and discuss a topic, that means that you and I were unconsciously pushed to this forum when reading an article about tom cruise and katie holmes. I'm pretty sure you'll say that he "pushed" you to start this blog response, but he sure didn't push me to answer you. I did that on my own... I thought he allowed free will? Why would he push his creation to do something when he's given them free will? Sounds deceitful. "Yea, you're free to do anything you want... but I REALLY want you to do THIS, go, do it, do it, come onnnnn, do it." Sounds like temptation to me. Oh wait, God doesn't do that.... right, or does he (GEN 22:1, JAS 1:13)? These contradictions are confusing me...

      "But isn't it great to know God is going to restore all things to as they were before Adam fell? No more death. No more disease. No more suffering. No more tears. Wow!"

      It would be nice to live in fairy tale land, but unfortunately I'm in the real world, where not everything is perfect. I definitely cannot believe in a future world defined by a book that itself is not "perfect" as even you have described. A perfect God should be able to inspire a perfect book, if he meant that book to be chosen to spread His word, supposedly. Even the Aramaic and Greek versions of the book have many mistakes, the same ones most researchers point out. Just too much for me to believe. It's like believing in Greek and Roman mythology. Just too many mistakes and illogical things.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Topher

      hawaiiguest

      I already know you aren't open to it.

      Tallulah13

      I did answer it. More than once. God has revealed Himself to ALL of us. If we seek Him we will find Him. Having faith comes into play here. That's the best I can answer you on this. If you are looking for more I'm afraid I just can't answer it. I'm sorry.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Haven't all of you had enough of this self appointed mouthpiece for Christ.

      He is the anti -christ....think about this
      CHRISTOPHER CHRIST TOPHER.... He is the other side of christ (odd they share the T though, symbol for the cross)

      July 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • OTOH

      Who invited me?, Anti-Christ?

      He seems more like a wannabee Dear Abby for the religious crowd.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Topher

      Xdoc

      "I'm pretty sure you'll say that he "pushed" you to start this blog response, but he sure didn't push me to answer you. I did that on my own... I thought he allowed free will?"

      You've continued a very thoughtful and respectful conversation. That's your free will right there. And I appreciate it.

      "Why would he push his creation to do something when he's given them free will? Sounds deceitful. "Yea, you're free to do anything you want... but I REALLY want you to do THIS, go, do it, do it, come onnnnn, do it."

      Of course He wants us to come to Him. He does not wish for any to perish.

      "A perfect God should be able to inspire a perfect book, if he meant that book to be chosen to spread His word, supposedly."

      The Bible says "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Which means you can test it and trust it. And it has been spread. Still going strong for 2000 years and is translated into more than 2000 languages.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Topher

      Dear Topher ... I like it! 🙂

      July 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Tallulah13

      Toph, you answered nothing. You evaded, you avoided and you invented, but in the end you had no real answers. It's okay, and more honest, to admit that you simply don't know.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Topher

      That's what I said ... "That's the best I can answer you on this. If you are looking for more I'm afraid I just can't answer it. I'm sorry."

      July 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      LOL, so instead of actually giving this supposed proof, you throw out a red herring to avoid saying anything. How would you know what I would or wouldn't accept? You know nothing about me, and assuming something about me shows you have no evidence or proof whatsoever.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Topher

      hawaiiguest

      I know you and I have had that conversation before and that you'd rather argue, call me names and make fun than have a serious conversation. So to you I say no thanks.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Topher

      Strange, I don't remember you ever giving me anything resembling proof. I remember asking before and you dodging until you had to go to work. Kind of what you're doing right now. If you can point to where I supposedly insulted you or called you names that would be good.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Xdoc

      "You've continued a very thoughtful and respectful conversation. That's your free will right there. And I appreciate it."

      Thanks, but I think you missed my point. My point was that even though my free will was exercised by coming here and responding on my own... where was yours? If you stated he "pushed" you to do this. And remember, I come with the assumption that the Bible is true in literal terms and some times they do state not to take things literally. Only problem with that is it doesn't state which parts to exactly treat literally and which parts you should take metaphorically. Everything bad in the Bible, such as God ordering Abraham to kill his son to prove his faith, I could take literally and think, "what a jealous God, I'm not worshiping that, it'll be like honoring a jealous wife, eventually you'll get tired of it". Like the fig tree incident, you can take that incident 2 ways: 1: Jesus cursed or withered the tree to make a point about prayer, or 2: Jesus was upset that he didn't get food when he was hungry and out of spite, withered the tree. I could do the same to situations in Greek mythology, when Zeus had Hercules go mad and kill his wife and children, or when Paris was given the love of Helen by Aphrodite as a bribe to choose here as the most beautiful goddess. One thing though, the trojan war HAS been proven to have happened by the ruins found.

      "Still going strong for 2000 years and is translated into more than 2000 languages."

      Yea, proves people are very gullible. You also have to remember that the Bible has been collected and compiled over a long period of time. The Bible you read today is not the same Bible (i.e. list of Gospels) back in the Middle Ages, or back in the late Roman Empire. Those folks read very different compiled versions of the Gospels. There were many that were stricken out of the current Bible because things didn't "fit" well with the rest so they thought they were not "inspirations" of God. Hinduism has been around longer though, and I bet you don't believe a word of that religion, even though lots of people do. I wonder what you think of older religions still being practiced today?

      July 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      Q: ""Why doesn't he make himself "obvious" now in modern times?"

      Topher's astute reply: "How do you know He isn't?"

      Well, for one thing, the question has the word OBVIOUS in it. So answer the question as asked, please.

      Also, Topher said: "I was an angry, raging atheist throughout my teen years....I remember knowing in my mind there must be some sort of God."""

      I'm not convinced you were EVER an atheist. Sounds to me like you were a believer but angry with your god.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      Bottom line is, folks, that intellectual conversations with people like Topher will only go in circles. He has no answers for you. Show's over. Move along...

      "God said it. I believe it. That settles it." – That's the basic apologist argument, politely known as "circular reasoning".

      July 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Topher

      Xdoc

      "Thanks, but I think you missed my point."

      Regardless, I appreciate the fact you and I can disagree on something and still talk about it like adults.

      "My point was that even though my free will was exercised by coming here and responding on my own... where was yours?"

      I could run away every time I'm called a name like "anti-Christ." But I don't. That's my choice. It's not like God has me tied to the chair. Obviously I'd like to persuade you to my side because I think you'll be in big trouble come Judgment Day. I don't want that for you. But if I run away I can't keep having this conversation.

      "If you stated he "pushed" you to do this."

      I could say I've been pushed to do this because I want everyone to be saved. God tells us in the Bible to go and preach the Gospel to every living creature. I'm just trying to do my part. No one told me the truth, so I'm trying to make sure that doesn't happen to you or anyone else who is reading along with us.

      "And remember, I come with the assumption that the Bible is true in literal terms and some times they do state not to take things literally. Only problem with that is it doesn't state which parts to exactly treat literally and which parts you should take metaphorically."

      A good study Bible would help with that. I'd recommend the John MacArthur Study Bible.

      "Everything bad in the Bible, such as God ordering Abraham to kill his son to prove his faith, I could take literally and think, "what a jealous God, I'm not worshiping that, it'll be like honoring a jealous wife, eventually you'll get tired of it"

      Remember God didn't make Abraham go through with it. This story is one of those little pictures of what Christ was going to do. The sacrifice of a son in place of the lamb.

      "Yea, proves people are very gullible."

      Maybe that's all we are. But you really have to ask the question, "Is it true?"

      "You also have to remember that the Bible has been collected and compiled over a long period of time. The Bible you read today is not the same Bible (i.e. list of Gospels) back in the Middle Ages, or back in the late Roman Empire."

      We could really spend an entire day on this typic. I know because I have. Perhaps you and I can discuss this one another day. I do need to go and get ready for work. Sorry.

      "I wonder what you think of older religions still being practiced today?"

      At the risk of sounding biased (well, I guess I am biased) I don't think much of any other religions. Because if Christianity is true, none of the others can be. Jesus said 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father but by me.' That means only He can forgive your sins. None of the other religions even claim they can. Only Christ.

      Again, I have to get going. Please consider the things we've talked about today. Consider why I'm talking to you about this. I don't want your money and I'm not asking you to come to my church. I only care about you. And thanks again for the conversation.

      Have a good evening. And God bless.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • just sayin

      FACT and HISTORY: The God of the OT was copied/manufactured from a much much much much older religion in the region. This means the OT has ZERO credibility regarding any "Word" of a God or authority. Topher before you can discuss anything as authority I think you need to establish the authority as genuine and original. Care to give it a try?

      July 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Topher provided a lot of replies, but very few of them were in response to the actual questions.

      July 12, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  18. ElKai0

    Just reading the end of the article here, you have to be Approved to leave the church? Is it like a Jones Town situation or what? That really sounds crazy. These morons dont realize they are just using their millions to fund a pyrmide scheme.

    July 11, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Susan @ Afford Your Passions

      That's what struck me as odd. Needing approval to "leave"? Can't you just stop showing up at services (do they even have services?). Very weird.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  19. Gene

    Deeeewp. Push. Deeewp

    July 11, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  20. Buddha2112

    TAX ALL RELIGIONS!

    July 11, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Calm Dog

      Absolutely! Since churches to not pay taxes, the rest of us pay a higher rate to make up the difference. Because of this, we are forced to subsidize religious groups that we do not agree with. We are all paying a little higher taxes to support Scientology, like it or not. If that doesn't bother you, the Westboro Baptist Church is also being supported by your tax dollars. If churches paid their fair share, we'd all be living better.

      July 11, 2012 at 10:53 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.