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My Take: The five biggest misconceptions about secularism
Misunderstandings about secularists and secularism do a disservice to America, says Jacques Berlinerblau.
October 6th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The five biggest misconceptions about secularism

By Jacques Berlinerblau, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jacques Berlinerblau is associate professor of Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University. His book, How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom has just been released.

As far as the Republicans are concerned, President Barack Obama is secularism’s go-to guy in Washington. Newt Gingrich refers to him as a “secular-socialist.” Mitt Romney charges that his opponent advocates a “secular agenda.” And Rick Santorum frets that Obama is imposing “secular values” on “people of faith.”

The president, however, seems not to have received the whole him-being-a-secularist memo. American secularists have thrown up their hands in frustration over his supersizing of George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. They roll their eyes at his God talk. As for his recent call for days of “prayer and remembrance” to commemorate 9/11, well, would the late Rev. Jerry Falwell have done it any differently?

After spending years trying to sequence the genome of American secularism, I have arrived at a sobering conclusion: no -ism is as misunderstood as this one. All of which is bad for secularists, secularism and America. Let’s look at some of the biggest misconceptions out there:

1. Secularist: Just another word for atheist: Not true! But that doesn’t mean there is any thing wrong with nonbelievers. Nor does it mean that secularists and atheists don’t share scads of objectives in common (e.g., opposing religious establishment, securing freedom from religion, defending free expression).

American secularism’s roots can be traced to Christian political philosophy (yes, you read that correctly). Its main architects were Protestant thinkers like Martin Luther, Roger Williams, John Locke and Thomas Jefferson.

What evolved was a political worldview deeply suspicious of entanglements between what these gentlemen called “the civil and ecclesiastical authorities.” They asked: “How can we configure our government so that citizens of different religious groups may all live in equality, peace and order?”

Atheists, by contrast, posit the nonexistence of God(s) and proceed to explore the implications of that intriguing premise. Let’s put it this way: While nearly all atheists in America are secularists, not all secularists are atheists. In fact most secularists are not atheists — but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

2. Secularism simply means total separation of church and state: Separationism is, undeniably, a form of secularism. But not the only form. Secularists need to accept this, if only because more and more state and federal governments are giving separationism the old heave-ho.

As conservative Christians like to point out, the Constitution never mentions separationism. That idea surfaces in Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in which he lauded “a wall of separation between Church & State.” It was not, however, until about a century and a half later that the wall was actually built. This occurred in a series of stunning Supreme Court decisions that briskly evicted religion from public schools and spaces.

The separationist worldview crested in the 1960s and 1970s. When John F. Kennedy talked about a country where the “separation of church and state is absolute,” he articulated post-World War II liberalism’s dream. Or delusion. Even Supreme Court justices whose decisions helped erect  Jefferson’s Wall conceded that total separation is impossible to attain.

That is because the United States is historically and culturally Christian. We rest on Sundays. We close federal offices on Christmas. We put the word “God” on our coinage. Most citizens are believers. The state cannot logically “separate” from them. As Justice William Douglas - no foe of secularism - once remarked, total separation would mandate that, “Municipalities would not be permitted to render police or fire protection to religious groups.”

Government and religious citizenry are entangled. This doesn’t mean we should endorse those entanglements. Rather, we must recognize separationist secularism as something extraordinarily difficult to achieve.

3. Secularism is for Democrats: This was increasingly true with each passing decade from the 1960s forward. But after John Kerry’s debilitating loss to George W. Bush in 2004, all of that changed. Party strategists now recognized the power of the so-called “values voters” — the conservative Christians whose energy and activism propelled the incumbent to his second term.

A few months before Kerry’s defeat, an obscure state senator named Barack Obama blew the roof off the 2004 Democratic National Convention with a speech in which he intoned: “We worship an awesome God in the Blue States.” It was a harbinger of things to come. By the 2006 midterms, stories leaked about Democratic consultants who advised candidates never to say “separation of church and state” on the stump.

By 2008, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were Bible-thumpin’ with aplomb. Presidential candidate Obama, for his part, was promising to renovate George W. Bush’s faith-based Office. Separationist secularism, long in decline, was about to be rolled. What replaced it? Read on.

4. Secularists don’t make accommodations: Although few have noticed it, the Democrats have pivoted from “separation” to “accommodation.” This means the government can fund or assist religion; it just can’t play favorites. Thus, all religions are equal in the eyes of the faith-friendly state.

Is this approach secular? The jury is still out. Accommodation does respect the First Amendment principle of refraining from federal establishment of religion.

Consider the White House faith-based office. In theory, it funds all religious groups who provide social services (hence no establishment). In practice, however, things have not worked out so well (see complaints against both the Bush and Obama offices). Further, accommodation doesn’t really accommodate or take into account nonbelieving citizens.

5. Secularists are anti-religious: In recent years some have made secularism into a synonym for godlessness, possibly because a few extreme atheist groups have taken to calling themselves “secular.” Yet the idea that believers cannot be secular is incorrect and politically disastrous.

Secularism, as noted above, was born of Christian thought. Historically, its greatest champions have been those opposed to state support of one church or religious institution, such as Baptists, Protestant dissenters, and minorities including Jews, Catholics, Sikhs and others.

Secularism’s mission is to maximize freedom of and freedom from religion. But unless we start speaking of it in precise terms, and bringing secular believers and nonbelievers into coalition, it won’t be able to render this service to America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jacques Berlinerblau.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Church and state • Courts • Politics

soundoff (1,517 Responses)
  1. God help us

    Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussoulini, Catro all atheist and evil communist leaders

    October 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      So please explain why theists have not been able to act better if it is superior to atheism?

      October 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • QuiGon Bong

      Where's you learn that? In the bible? Idiot.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Bob

      Greatest contributors to charities in the world are now atheists.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      and none of those leaders did anything in the name of atheism. too bad the same cannot be said for all the genocide wrought by christians like hitler, who explained very clearly in his book that he was a catholic and on a mission from god against the jews. people often do evil in the name of religion, especially when holy books, like the bible, tell their followers to kill. there is no atheist doctrine telling atheists to commit evil.

      want a much more ethical philosophy? an atheistic philosophy? try humanism. far superior to any religion. humanist philosophy says we are truly all brothers and sisters, as proven by DNA. we don't need religion to treat each other well - religion usually says to treat others in your religion well - and to cr@p on anyone else till they convert.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Typical non-thinking association.

      Atheists don't kill for their god. People like you do.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • End Religion

      You don't have to specifically mention hitler even though you wanted to. The others are covered under the same false pretense here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum

      October 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @End Religion

      " You don't have to specifically mention *hitler* even though you wanted to. "

      LOL ! 😀 By leaving 'Hitler' out of his post, he thought he could get away from *Mike Godwin* and **Godwin's Law** LOL.

      That was funny.

      Peace...

      October 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • ME II

      Hitler simply wasn't an atheist.

      October 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  2. Strange1

    I do not want to live under a religious dictatorship or a theocracy.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  3. A-Team

    The important question to ask here is: y the secularist gotta b black in the picture?

    October 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Meatwad

      Hey ya'all, I don't about that but I just want to get some creamed corn and play video games.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      White can not exist without black, only difference is, hindu Atheist, ignorant self centered are on opposite hindu, darkened side of the light, truth absolute.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  4. Dan

    I don't rest on Sundays. The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27). Forcing anyone to do so with Blue Laws is a perversion of scripture.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bob

      Scripture is very perverted to start with, all on its own.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      Dan, god has commanded you to kill those who work on Sunday. If you don't then you're picking and choosing which of his laws to ignore. If you ignore any of his commandments you'll go to hell, right? So maybe just take the next logical leap and decide it's all bullshit and get on with living without the albatross of religion around your neck.

      Proof Every Christian Goes to Hell by End Religion
      1) The only irredeemable sin against your Lord thy God is denying him, the Holy Spirit
      2) To deny is to refuse to admit truth of or to refuse to give that which is requested
      3) Any sin is to deny god of his commandments
      4) Therefore, even one sin results in a soul that cannot be forgiven. Sin once, and you're going to hell whether you repent or not. Since Christians are "born into sin" they're automagically damned to hell and cannot be forgiven.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  5. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    Atheism self center ism is hinduism, denial of truth absolute, essence of existence, way of hindu's, mentally blinded and sunk in their hindu soul, darkened desire unable to recognize truth absolute GOD, engine of their existence.
    Atheism self center ism is hinduism, denial of truth absolute, essence of existence, way of hindu's, mentally blinded and sunk in their hindu soul, darkened desire unable to recognize truth absolute GOD, engine of their existence. for more visit limitisthetruth.com.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Your religion is imbecilism.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  6. Martin

    Atheism needs to be illegal in America!!

    October 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you need a hat that says "i turned my brain off."

      October 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Atheism, denial of truth absolute is hinduism, illegality by truth absolute GOD, foundation of American consti tution , every hindu criminal Atheist, denier of truth absolute deserves to be tried as a hindu traitor for his hinduism, illegality of Atheism, denial of truth absolute GOD.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      look who's on your side, Martin. birds of a feather...

      October 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Jake

      lol...you know you said something dumb when the guy who can't think supports you! 🙂

      October 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • QuiGon Bong

      Martin needs to get his head out of his a$$.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Martin,

      You want to make "thoughts" crimes?

      So much for freedom eh?

      October 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • waheid

      Your statement that atheism is un-American is, in itself, un-American. Three of the most important principles on which this country was founded was (1) freedom to believe whatever one chose to believe, (2) separation of church and state and (3) toleration.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • End Religion

      congrats on a beauty of a thread, Martin. Another religious person opens his mouth and helps the cause of atheism. Thanks!

      October 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  7. Where is your God now?

    Surprisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942-1943 also in Croatia existed numerous extermination camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Paveliç, a practicing Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children! Mass murder was performed here.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Josh

      Jews have been punished because they made the Romans persecute and kill Jesus Christ.
      Get over it!

      October 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Where is your God now?

      @Josh

      I don't have anything to get over. I am only reporting what God does.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism labeled as Christianity is based on hinduism, racism, so is the sign of Cross, sister sign of Swastika, just another label for hinduism, racism to fool humanity.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Where is your God now?
      Still on the throne!

      October 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Josh,
      Jesus willingly died for you.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bob

      Robert, why did your omnipotent creature need its son to die at all? Pretty pathetic "god" you've made for yourself there.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @CS

      I left you a response to your thoughts on page 3 of the "Faith Groups/Jihad" article.

      Peace...

      October 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • CS

      Cool, checking it out now.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Mr. Brown,

      It was not much of a sacrifice considering he was god in your view.

      Not to mention the whole idea of original sin is immoral.

      And punishing anyone for non-beliefs (a thought crime) is completely illogical and immoral.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Bob,
      Jesus died for you too. Why, because he loved you first. Will you love him back?

      October 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Your god is still on the throne? That explains why there hasn't been a single miracle of note after the bible was written. That certainly explains why there isn't a single shred of evidence to show that any of the miracles listed IN the bible actually occurred. That explains why there isn't a single shred of evidence for the existence of any god.

      If he got out of the bathroom and showed that he exists, maybe there wouldn't be so many atheists, and christians would actually have to behave as Christ told them to.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Cheese,
      Jesus was all man and all God at the same time. He dreaded what was coming, not only the physical pain but the separation from the father.
      Immoral, from your perspective, humanism, humanist, but from God’s perspective, he doesn’t think like we do.
      Your non-belief will hopefully be temporary. One day you may read or hear the word and suddenly realize he is real.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • MDAT

      Robert you are the example of why we oppose you.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      tallulah13,
      Miracles happen all the time.
      Doc.umentation is not acceptable evidence to you?
      No human will ever be perfectly christlike while in the flesh, but he will continue to work on us.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      MDAT,
      Thank you, or your welcome.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • MDAT

      Personally I don't like people trying to shove on others beliefs.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Mr. Brown,

      You say we don't think like god and yet you think you have some idea on how he thinks. Not to mention I don't care if we think like god or not both those concepts are immoral whither god thinks they are does not matter, might does not make right.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Amazing things happen all the time, but there is nothing miraculous about them. If you dig deep enough into every "miracle", you'll find a logical explanation for it, many times a very human act. It's dreadfully ungrateful of you to credit "god" for human endeavors.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      MDAT,
      This is a belief blog. Maybe I should, but I don’t run up to perfect strangers and attempt to lead them to Christ. I do express my beliefs here, as do others, including you I think, and as the peacetoall dude says, Peace.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Blessed are the Cheesemakers,
      He has left us the written word and his holy spirit, so I do think I have some small idea of the person of God. Might may not make right in your estimation, but assume for a moment God is real and he is the creator of all that we perceive. You think you could correct a being who could do all that?

      October 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      tallulah13,
      I suppose someone who was near the scene of say Sodom could say it was someone being careless with fire, a volcanic eruption, or a lightning strike. All would be logical explanations. I am very grateful for all the great things God leads and allows us to do as humans.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "He has left us the written word and his holy spirit".

      Mr. Brown,

      There is no proof the bible is anything but a man made invention and the holy spirit a man made god.

      I would never "assume" any definition of god is real, it is much too important a question for assumptions. I may not be able to correct such a god but if that god did exist I still would not worship him any more than I would respect a mob boss who required payment.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Bob

      Robert Brown, you've completely missed the point. Think this through a bit: how come your ‘omnipotent’ creature couldn’t do all that supposed saving without the loony son sacrifice bit anyway? And for that matter, how was it a sacrifice at all, when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time it wants with less than a snap of its fingers? Pretty feeble god it is that you’ve made for yourself there.

      Give that some thought and maybe it will help you leave your delusions behind. You will remain a laughingstock otherwise, and the more you dwell in your silly delusion and ancient myths, instead of keeping up with advances in medicine and technology, the more America slips downward relative to the rest of the world in science and other fields.

      October 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  8. Anon

    This is why atheists are getting tired of religious nonsense.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf_f1H14rXE

    October 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  9. Ralph N

    "Secularism’s mission is to maximize freedom of and freedom from religion"...." this service to America" is NOT a service but a true disservice and affront to America's forefathers and their founding principles.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Jake

      “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

      -Thomas Paine, just one of our Founding Fathers who was against organized religion and Christianity in particular.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • NoTheism

      Such as the separation of church and state, uh... fantastic.
      Please, substantiate your claim, because it seems to me that you have no idea what you're talking about.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Jake

      You realize the vast majority of our Founding Fathers were not religious and essentially atheists? You realize we are absolutely NOT a "Christian nation", at least that was not the intention of our Founding Fathers?

      October 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • mama kindless

      My goodness. Ralph, please see the quote just below from James Madison that I posted. And he was, by far, not the only founder to feel that strongly.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Ralph N

      What I realize Jake is that your claims about our founding fathers and christianity are false.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Keith

      You will have to dig a little deeper to explain your statement since one of the founders was a leader in the Deist Movement who believed that God did not care what his creation was doing.

      Many of the founders shared these beliefs.

      Freedom from Religion is a right that I insist on. You nor any other tyrant should be able to subject me to your beliefs.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Jake

      Mama, this is one of the things I really get frustrated with! It's clear that many of our Founding Fathers were not religious and openly anti-religion, yet somehow, so many people in America think we're a "Christian Nation"! I suppose by definition, Christians don't tend to be fact-seeking people, but I still don't get how they can be so naive.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Ralph N

      Hi -Ralph...

      You Wrote:- "Secularism’s mission is to maximize freedom of and freedom from religion"...." this service to America" is NOT a service but a true disservice and affront to America's forefathers and their founding principles. "

      Interesting... where do you get the notion of "affront to America's forefathers and their founding principles" ?????

      Nowhere in our U.S. Const itution does it say, nor even suggest anywhere the following: **

      *God
      *Lord God
      *God of the Bible
      *God of Abraham
      *God of the Christians
      *Only Christians are allowed to be in the U.S.
      *You must 'believe' in God to be in the U.S.(Christian God)
      *Jesus
      *Jesus Christ
      *Jesus Christ -our Lord and Savior
      *You must 'believe' in Jesus Christ as your Savior to be in the U.S.
      *Bible
      *Bible is the 'literal' Word of God
      *The U.S. Consti tution is based on the Bible, Jesus, God's Words, etc...
      *Christian Bible is 'the' Truth
      ***Christian Nation***
      ***The U.S. 'is' a Christian Nation***
      ***The U.S. 'Consti tution' is -Founded- on "Christian Principle's"
      *Atheists and Non-Christians aren't 'real' Americans and should be denied access to live in the U.S.
      *If you don't accept Jesus Christ as the living God and one true Savior, you will burn in hell, and... you are probably possessed by Satan, etc... etc... etc... etc...

      I could go on, but I hope you get the point.

      Peace...

      October 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Jake

      Ralph, honestly, do a little research if you doubt me. Preferably research in a library, not a church.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • QuiGon Bong

      and yet another psycho christian who lives in his own little reality. Time to pull your head out of your a$$, Ralph.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • kamanakapu

      The jews continue to deny there ever was a jewish male as described by the christians and they will never concede no matter what the christians say or do. The christians have slaughtered millions of jews in their treacherous, cowardly and murderous campaign to force the jews to accept jesus christ as their promised messiah but the jews refuse to capitulate.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      YOU are an affront to America. Please move to Afghanistan.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Ralph N, you stupidity and ignorance are dragging this country down.

      Look up "Sepuku", then do it. Now.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  10. NoTheism

    I'd like to know why so many people have such a problem with atheists and atheism.

    The next article should be "The five biggest misconceptions about atheism" or something of the sort.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Jake

      Good point. It is an American thing. It is perfectly acceptable to be atheist in most Western societies. I'm not sure how we get a breakthrough in understanding, but it's basically the same thing as slavery. 50 years from now, no one will be able to understand how anyone persecuted against atheists...or so I hope.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Layne

      I might be able to answer that. Judging from the comments I've read on the belief blog, atheists can't stop themselves from using terms like "idiot", "moron", and "fool" to describe anyone of faith. Personally I don't see much correlation between intelligence and faith. But that's just me.

      Unless atheists quit picking fights with people of faith, people of faith are going to fight back. See religion source of religulousfilthybrainwash ism's post for an example of what I mean.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Layne,

      That is a red-herring. Both sides use ad-hominem attacks.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Just because you don't see it, Layne, doesn't mean it isn't spot on. In fact, it might be an indicator that's it's dead on "balls" accurate.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • ME II

      @Layne,
      Whenever someone proposes "equal time" or "teach the controvesy" in public school science classe, who's picking the fight? In addition, who's being ignorant?

      October 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      for you, layne...

      http://youtu.be/GBHfiR4jtCU

      October 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  11. hammerofastraea

    Atheists tend to make enemies out of non-Atheists extremely quick these days effectively shooting whatever clout they may have had in the leg by doing so. And apparently affecting similar but different ideologies. Like Fallwell giving Christians a bad name or bin laden giving islam a bad name, atheists are given secularism a bad name? I have to say so, because while I am a catholic myself; I would rather only scientists be elected to government positions and political science be completely abolished since true faith is only between a person and their higher power (and no one else). Back in the 90s when their arguments were fresher and from a better place, atheists were onto something. Nowadays they tend to make themselves very repulsive and annoying (negating their views thusly); and effectively graft themselves onto things like secularism as deterrents making them undesirable ideals to be associated with.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • NoTheism

      What a bunch of nonsense...

      October 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      @hammerofastraea

      Examples of the atheists you are referring to please.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Jake

      I am an atheist. I am watching football today and would like to have a beer. I can't, because I forgot to buy some yesterday and thanks to religion, I can't buy any today. Yes, the people who impose their religious views that have nothing to do with me into laws that directly impact me are my enemies. Religious people who don't try to push their views on the rest of the world (ie, anti-choice, anti-gays, etc) are not my enemies. I disagree with them, but don't hate them.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The Catholic Church authority have repeatedly said in no uncertain terms that atheists are not fully human. If atheists are angry they have a reason to be. Theists can repeatedly "share" their beliefs but if an atheist does the same they are told to "keep their beliefs to themselves" essentually being told to shut up. Clean up your own house first before complaining.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Good point, Jake. I agree somewhat with the poster regarding the ultra-negativity that doesn't really help healthy conversation. But I don't think I agree with "graft themselves onto things like secularism as deterrents ".

      In any event, I would just like to paste this quote from the man whom some called the father of the cont!tution – James Madison:

      "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superst!tion, bigotry, and persecution."—-A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785

      October 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Ralph N

      Jake, I recommend that you choose to buy your beer on Saturday just as I must tolerate smokers and people with filthy mouths at work. Perhaps tolerance comes into play here so that we can all get along and enjoy the blessings that we all have in common and quit fighting about the things we don't agree on.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Atheism self center ism is hinduism, denial of truth absolute, essence of existence, way of hindu's, mentally blinded and sunk in their hindu soul, darkened desire unable to recognize truth absolute GOD, engine of their existence.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Ralph,

      No surprise, but you completely miss the point. Why should others have to submit to religious authority in a free society? Yes we could by beer on Saturday but why should the religious views of others have ANY bearing on others through gov't legislation. If the religious don't want to buy beer on Sunday they don't have to, but that isn't good enough for them, they have to impose that on others and when we object we are the ones who are "intolerant".

      October 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Jake

      " I am watching football today and would like to have a beer. I can't, because I forgot to buy some yesterday and thanks to religion, I can't buy any today. "

      LOL... 😀 Sorry brother, I feel for ya'. If you can't buy alcohol on Sunday... You are *most likely* living in a **very Red** State.

      Maybe time to get the fvck out of there !

      Peace...

      October 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Since there is no higher power, faith is a manifestation of your delusional thinking, nothing more.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • End Religion

      hammer, my happy-go-lucky response... Religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.
      @4:10
      http://youtu.be/PY8fjFKAC5k

      October 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  12. Where is your God now?

    Police arrested the mother of a 16-month-old toddler girl after they found her living inside a trailer in Cleveland, Texas, about an hour northeast of Houston, with co.ckroaches crawling all over her. When police entered the home to confront owners, they smelled what they believed to be rotting, decaying flesh and found a toddler with rashes and bug bites sitting among squalid conditions.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • hammerofastraea

      Just as secularism is misunderstood by potential sympathizers, so is Christianity misunderstood by spoiled people looking for a quick fix.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      @hammerofastraea

      What is a potential sympathizer??

      In what way is Christianity misunderstood?

      You are so full of sh!t.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      hammer, we are atheist *because* we understand religion

      October 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  13. Jim

    Democracy is communism. It won't be tolerated by Yah who formed this country as a republic.

    October 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      No, democracy is will of choice, a gift from truth absolute GOD, creator of every thing including "HIS" humanity, desire to be, but choice has to be measured on scale of truth absolute, or be rejected, regardless how many people desired some thing in hinduism, denial of truth absolute.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Anon

      Yah? As in Yahweh the imaginary desert god?

      October 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Keith

      Yahweh, the Egyptian Moon god of War? That guy?

      October 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • kamanakapu

      A democracy is a government of ALL the people, by ALL the people, and for ALL the people whereas a republic is a governance of only a few males, by only a few males and for a only few males.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  14. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    Islam is not hinduism religion but Theen Allah, consti tution of truth absolute, neither were teaching's of son of blessed Mary, nor of Moses, but Theen Allah, consti tution of truth absolute, hind, corrupted by hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, secular's of Egypt and Persia to hinduism, religion's to make humanity their gentile, slave through hinduism, system of racism. For more visit limitisthetruth.com.

    October 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Layne

      Dude, your religious incoherence is making secularism look like a good option.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • kamanakapu

      Religion is mankind's oldest organized criminal activity, 'criminal' being defined here as 'the use of treachery, deceit, cowardice, violence and slaughter to gain an unfair, unjust, unequal or unnatural advantage over innocent persons, places or things'. Everyone everywhere has the duty to help stamp out this treacherous and cowardly fraud.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  15. H H

    I'm Christian. I do not, however, want to live in a "christian" country.

    There are many different belief systems within Christianity, and I no more want to live under Santorum's version, for example, than he does mine. I would never expect a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist or atheist to toe "my" Christian path, either.

    Christianity is NOT "under persecution" in this country. People are free to attend their services and observe their values as they always have. They just aren't free to inflict their beliefs on others.

    Your right to your religion stops at me, and my right to my religion stops at you.

    If you don't want an abortion, don't have one. I won't drag your pregnant wife to a clinic and try to force her to get one, either.

    If your kids want to pray in school, they will – nobody will prevent them from bowing their heads and saying Grace over lunch, for example. I certainly won't.

    I don't see why this concept is so difficult for some to accept.

    October 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • heather

      Couldn't have said it any better. I appreciate that you are acting in true Christian form and not judging others. I wish there were more people out there like you.

      October 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Jake

      If only other religious people were as reasonable as you.

      In reality, I think many probably are, but they're not usually the ones who speak out. And forgive me, but I think they also tend to be the ones who are "less" religious and closer to being agnostic / atheist.

      October 7, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Anon

      The term "true christian" is such an oxymoronic cop out.

      October 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • hez316

      At some point your Christianity doesn't mean much.

      October 7, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • George

      I'm an atheist, and I could not have said this any better. Thumbs up.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • adamdjacques

      Well said. I am agnostic and believe that Belief is a personal thing and as such, should be kept strictly between you and your God(s).

      October 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • MDAT

      Very well reasoned.I do not try to push my beliefs but I cannot argue with such people.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Welcome, comic book fan. I'll trade your silly book for a copy of Batman #2.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • End Religion

      HH, sounds good to me. Would be nice if it could be kept as mild as you suggest. But we all know it doesn't stay there.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  16. Jake

    “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

    -Thomas Paine, just one of our Founding Fathers who was against organized religion and Christianity in particular.

    There is no point in arguing with American religious nuts; it is exactly like administering medicine to the dead. They have convinced themselves that our country is based on Christianity despite the fact that most of our Founding Fathers were the equivalent of atheists in their time. They ignore all evidence and logic (obviously a requirement to believe in religion in the first place). All we can do is continue to provide information that makes it less and less possible for a sane person to deny reality. And in the mean time, shake our heads and sigh...it's a sad state religion has put us in and our founders would be appalled.

    October 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Athy

      Totally agree. Reality is tough for some people. Some may eventually get it, but, sadly, most won't.

      October 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • mama kindless

      True.

      October 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • coxxon

      well-said Jake

      October 7, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      To worship a reason is the way of hindu's, criminals to please their hindu soul, filthy desire, hinduism absurdity of reasoning over truth absolute has no place in civility but member's of hindu criminal hinduism, Mafia, having no place among humanity but atheist , self centered animals..

      October 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Keith

      Well, Thomas Paine hated everything. I do agree with him on this point but really he was just a rabble rouser and not very smart. He wasn't even a patriot, he wrote as many pamphlets against the new Republic as he did for it before the Revolution. The utter destruction brought onto France during and after the French Revolution brought him to his senses a bit but really he should be left out of American history.

      October 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  17. Edweird69

    Christianity explained: "Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own
    father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and
    telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove
    an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a
    rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
    Otherwise you'll be tortured forever by an invisible red guy with horns."

    October 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Al

      Great. Where do I send my check?

      October 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • ooka

      Thank you for being so honest finally! Why can't more deist book thumpers come clean like that?

      October 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Keith

      Christianity was not always about the beliefs that the so called Evangelicals of today hold. In fact Christians from 400 years ago wouldn’t even recognize those guys as Christians.

      I did however enjoy your description.

      October 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      "Christians from 400 years ago wouldn’t even recognize those guys as Christians. "

      No, they'd be too busy burning witches at the stake!

      October 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  18. ghostdansing

    Test Test Test... I've tried to post a a paragraph 3 times and it didn't take.

    October 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      ghost,

      See the list on page #11

      October 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Al

      Time to cue up Sonny and Cher's "I got you babe".

      October 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. religion source of religulousfilthybrainwash ism

    Followers of religion source of filthy brainwash iŝm, deniers of truth absolute 2π radians, weak minded hindu fools need crutch to ease fear of dying and returning to void they came from before being born. Religion must be taught to children as children are born atheist. They must be indoctrinated by absurd fairy tale religion, hindu filthy mithra zeus zoroastrian isis jesus islam joe smith garbage from gutter land human mind riddled with fear.

    October 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • AvdBergism and Rainer Braendleinism, pagan audacity to have more greater ism than mine
      October 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Wrob

      Very good! Now it's time for your nap.

      October 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  20. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Any word that has a "dirty" word in it like "conti.tution" has t.it in it has to be broken up. It is a program there is no moderation

    Docu.ment has c.um in it.

    It can be frustrating.

    October 7, 2012 at 2:10 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.