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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. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    who says reason is nothing but product of soul? desire, only a Fat Mullah, ignorant, goon will follow a Theen Allah to deny truth absolute GOD like a Abu Hakeem hungry dog of London based night club bouncer. To worship a reason is way of Mullah's criminals to satisfy their filthy lust of fake Jinnat. Theen Allah is opposition to truth absolute GOD.

    October 7, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, stupid.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  2. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

    -Thomas Jefferson

    October 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      reason is nothing but product of soul, desire, only a hindu, ignorant will follow a reason to deny truth absolute GOD like a hindu hungry dog. To worship a reason is way of hindu's criminals to satisfy their hindu soul. desire in opposition to truth absolute GOD..

      October 7, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, mentally sick, copy cat, ID theif.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  3. mama kindless

    Isn't history interesting? I just love how much we can learn now compared to when I was a little girl – before computers.

    Anyway – every once in a while someone on these boards will try to convince you that the founding fathers of the U.S. were Christian and that our country was founded on Christianity. Well, we know that several of the important ratifiers and even designers of our Const!tution were Deists – some of them attending Christian church, and some, not so much. The important thing is that the designers and ratifiers of the Const!tution felt it was very important for there to be a separation of church and state. And although they didn't call it as such in the First Amendment, the language of that text and their other writings are pretty clear. Here are what I think are some of the more interesting writings of some of the key founders of our country.

    James Madison (deist who sometimes attended Anglican church) (his is hailed as the Father of the Const!tution)

    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, supersti tion, bigotry, and persecution. A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785

    Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects? A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795

    Thomas Jefferson (deist)

    Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.
    We have solved ... the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.

    speech (as POTUS) to the Virginia Baptists (1808)

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Letter to the Danbury Baptists (1802)

    U.S Senate

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;
    from Article 11 of its treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797

    I also like to include something President John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960:

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute

    October 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • OTOH

      mama,

      Good post.

      FYI, John Kennedy was elected president on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961 - so that statement had to have been made while he was on the campaign trail, where his religion was a very hot issue. Not that he didn't believe it, but just to keep things factual...

      October 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      What does word Deists means to you, it is DE "HE" ist is S follower, do you mean they may have attended churches of hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism, but they were not trinitarian's, believer's of split of truth absolute in half but believer of divinity of one GOD truth absolute, or Devonian's.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Thank you, OTOH. lol. I thought I might get in trouble with the Kennedy quote. I was really just trying to save space at the end, but I wanted to be clear that these people were presidents – I'm sure you're not surprised these days by people who don't even know who has been president.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • mama kindless

      and I see I didn't do it here, but I add a line on one other post I did of this to indicate that Jefferson was president #3 and Madison #4.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @hindu dude, sometimes I think you just string words together and come up with something that kind of sounds like English, but isn't....

      October 7, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      @the college ad missions guru, Hindu goon, use Google Translator and select TheenAllah, ignorant.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      No, it is your assumption, De in Latin, German and french is THE, referring to "HE" and IST is applied like wise, meaning is, in English and Arabic, indicator of will of a noun. Just a matter of knowledge, and not part of regular language classes.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @hindu, I may be ignorant, but I can speak and write English and most of my posts make sense, unlike YOURS... I repeat you string along some words and try and make something out of mumble jumble.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Nothing more than your opinion.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  4. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    Treaty with Tripoli, drafted in 1796 under George Washington and signed by John Adams in 1797

    October 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Learn to spell word's right hindu, ignorant before spewing your hinduism, absurdity, hindu ignorant full of hindu Atheism, filthy self center ism, secularism.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Yes truth absolute foundation of Islam has been around for ever, will be around after your hindu ignorant's butt's have departed and world will have peace Islam without hinduism, denial of truth absolute GOD.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  5. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    “To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise…without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.”

    -Thomas Jefferson

    October 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Nothing else but your hindu ignorant opinion, world has been around for ever and you, not a blink of an eye, hindu pea brain, spewing your hinduism, absurdities like a hindu ignorant owl of hindu darkened cave. Truth absolute god has been around for ever and will be around for ever, THE CONSTANT.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      hindu Muslim turd: I guess you're going to try convincing us that Islam has also been around forever? HA HA! Moon god worshiping pagan!

      October 7, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Yes truth absolute foundation of Islam has been around for ever, will be around after your hindu ignorant's butt's have departed and world will have peace Islam without hinduism, denial of truth absolute GOD. Only reason for mayhem among humanity are hindu's deniers of truth absolute GOD hindu's, lairs like you.

      October 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  6. Irrational Exuberance

    In order presented:
    1) True, and not of course. Atheist means absence of belief. Being atheist does not require one "posit the nonexistence of God(s)". The burden of proof is on the one making the claim, not the one saying "show me". So the time is not spent figuring out what it means that there is no god. It is a meaningless statement. What does it mean that there is no Santa Claus is not something people sit around figuring out.
    2) Accurate in particular words, but a lie when actually thought about. The Consti.tution does not expressly state that, rather it forbid religious tests and prohibits the government from favoring any religion. They don't have to say build a wall of separation, rather they simply built the wall instead. Secondly, since you bring up timing, The Treaty of Tripoli, written by some of the same people expressly reject your notion about historically christian nation status, and god was not put on the coins till after almost a 100 years had passed from independence, and almost 200 years for it to turn up on bills.
    Seriously, the people who were at the outset of the history of the Christian Nation put into writing a rejection of being a christian nation, wouldn't they have been in the best position to know?

    Actually I think that about sums up my most serious issues with this. Not the worst they've had on the blog.

    October 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  7. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    @Theen Allah Fat Mullah, call me a dim bulb whatever, hey I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small boy in a big world trying to find someone to love. Do you want to be my mother?

    October 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source..........)

      lol! I have no issue with assuming a role of your mother, but as long as you'r not a M F!!

      October 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Bippy, the 4th filthy racist Hindu Mullah of ozone depleting hair care products, and 4th assistant to evil filth of Hunduism's large Prada handbag collection.

      No me. Pick me.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, mentally sick.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Bippy, the 4th filthy racist Hindu Mullah of ozone depleting hair care products, and 4th assistant to evil filth of Hunduism's large Prada handbag collection.

      Look who's talkin'.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I think all this hindu mithra quran garbage is just that garbage...

      October 7, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  8. Jerry N. Wesner

    I care little what people believe (unless it involves hurting somebody) but when people trying to force their beliefs on me in taxpayer-owned places say they're being discriminated against because we try to stop them, that does annoy me greatly.

    October 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  9. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    Word Theen is driven from Latin word Thin, negative, The, skinny, to be in emptiness, Theen, negative to both of them, Allah, a noun in negativity, Theen ism, way of negativity. Theen A ism denial of truth absolute by choice and so is Meccan Mitraism, self center ism, fanat'ism, denial of truth absolute by greed, lust. So does word pig. take your pick, obedient to truth absolute GOD or a Theen pig, self centered, secular in denial of truth absolute GOD.

    October 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • NoTheism

      what about theism?

      October 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  10. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source..........)

    How many people knew meaning's of word Se'xular? almost none, Se'xular a Navi Allah criminal way to sell garbage to followers, illegality under a different label, way of Mullah pundit's, criminal trickster self centered, fanatic's with Pandora box full of Theen ism, tricks to Hell, fool humanity in to gentile ism, slavery..utter nonsense of Theen Allah Fat Mullahs.

    October 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I've been watching this nonsense for a while. YOU make NO sense! You need to come on and take a moment to say something of substance or shut the EFF up!

      October 7, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source..........)

      @GuruOfMorons, visit my link Theen Allah for dummies.com and click on QuranTranslator to open file on website.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Yeah, I'll do that when you log on my butt and click on what comes out of it to open it up.... SURE. Why don't you try and speak better English, or learn better English... I think the Quran and the Bible are equally stupid.. there.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  11. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source.......)

    Value means limit, and without limit are none but Fat Mullahs, self centered, other wise known as criminal's, deniers of truth absolute, nothing is wrong to bash or punish Abu Hakem, a London based night club bouncer, self centered criminal, but a thing of noble nature for good of humanity.

    October 7, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, ignorant from hindered gutter of hinduism, racism, called india.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the Original Hinduism Source..........)

      Paki turd, absurdity of a Dim Bulb, ignorant from ism gutter of Theenism, racism, called Mullahstan.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  12. Original secularism

    Original secularism was a great idea, church did not tell state what to do and state did not tell church what to do. That all changed when social engendering came into the scene, when states started legislating morality from the Bible and still yet others from the viewpoint of science. Ultimately true secularism as in visioned by our founders has died and moder liberalism has replaced it with "freedom from religion". The idea has now been hijacked by eletist on all sides. Scientific, religious, sociologist, and other "Enlighted ones" have over the last 100 years turned this country's "ignorant" freemen to ignorant entilment slaves, all in the name social progress.

    October 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • NoTheism

      Fantastic; the only problem is why should religious organizations have special rights? Why should religious organizations not be held accountable or required to assume responsibility just as any other organization in society?

      October 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Sorry, I had a little trouble following the post. Could you do a spell check, and then a fact check, and then repost? Thanks.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Niknak

      No, you won't be getting any clarification.
      Like most fundies, they post drivel they parrot from the scammers they give their money to on any given Sunday.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • tallulah13

      This is the second time I've read just about the same thing, but with a different screen name. I wonder how much this spamming gig pays?

      October 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      Of course the other possibility is social progress is indeed progress and you rail against it because you're still mostly caveman?

      October 8, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  13. science is cool

    Check out this list:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology

    I'm sure you'll recognize several of the names on this list. The number of Nobel laureates is astounding!

    October 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  14. Reasonable Christian

    This article doesn't mention anything about the value of any specific set of religious beliefs (including Atheism), so this is not the place to bash anyone. In fact, America isn't the place to bash anyone for religious ideals. Even you see some of these people as arrogant, there is no excuse to attack them, especially if you want to portray an image of relative maturity compared to those you disagree with. Honestly, most of the people who commented should be ashamed, very poor ambassadors for your respective religions.

    October 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Value means limit, and without limit are none but hindu atheist, self centered, secular's, other wise known as criminal's, deniers of truth absolute, nothing is wrong to bash or punish a hindu atheist, self centered criminal, but a thing of noble nature for good of humanity.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • NoTheism

      Atheism is not a set of beliefs.... it's the ABSENCE of a belief.
      It's not a great term, actually...
      Do you mind if I call you non-phlogistonist?

      With that aside, I would offer exactly the opposite of what you're saying. It is vital that we maintain an ongoing dialogue, so that our opinions may improve and benefit everyone involved. (I now refer you to John Stuart Mill: On Liberty)

      Anyway, it's easy for some to feel "bashed" whenever their view is criticized; but it should not be so. I think that is something that should be remedied.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      1. Atheism is not a "religious belief". A-symmetrical is without symmetry. A-symptomatic is without symptoms. A-theism is without theism. It makes no further assertion. It's "Absence".

      2. Ridiculous beliefs can be based. It's the right to have them that cannot be assailed. If you say, "I believe there is a 1957 Chevy orbiting Pluto", I do not have to respect that.

      3. Beliefs are not judged by their value. That is Utilitarianism. They are judged by their truth, and that's it.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      "Reasonable Christian" is an oxymoron. The idea that an ancient pi.ss.ed-off deity required his son to be killed before he could say he would say "I forgive you" is THE most unreasonable thing anyone could possibly imagine.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Atheism id hinduism La, truth lessness, way of hindu's criminals to explain their hinduism, lawlessness.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Bippy, the 4th filty racist Hindu Mullah of ozone depleting hair care products, and 4th assistant to evil filth of Hunduism's large Prada handbag collection.

      Mithraism is THE best secular religion. The best.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • End Religion

      subscription to any religion is unreasonable and arrogant. Be reasonable and abandon your faith.

      October 8, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  15. ghostdansing

    Since I can't seem to get an entire paragraph posted due to the censor bots; pantomime. This || http://youtu.be/UomPUYgxSTY || had as much a religious influence as the civil rights movement.

    October 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • fail whale

      epic post fail

      October 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  16. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    An excellent article education people about differences with fact and what happens .. non-secularists come out posting negative fearfilled comments .. typical of these types of believers in non-reality.

    October 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  17. edmundburkeson

    Jacques is confused. Christian's should not support secularism. Secularism did not influence Madison. Madison's view of Christian civil government won day in the founding era.

    October 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • NoTheism

      What should Christians support, a theocracy? Would you like the pope or some other figure on par to rule over you, and tell you what you should think and what you should do?
      I'm not sure what you're trying to say.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      They should support the same view of civil government espoused by Madison. Religious liberty is the basis for all freedom in the US. IT was not and was never intended to be a theocracy. It is a Christian view of government based on the first the primary laws of the second table of the ten commandments: life – you shall not kill, liberty – you shall have no other gods (including government) before me, and property – you shall not steal.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      How many people knew meaning's of word Secular? almost none, a hindu criminal way to sell hinduism, illegality under a different label, way of hindu pundit Jew's, criminal trickster self centered, secular's with Pandora box full of hinduism, tricks to hind, fool humanity in to gentile ism, slavery..

      October 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      I would make an appointment with a counselor early Monday morning.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      liberty – you shall have no other gods (including government) before me,

      THAT is THE best non-sequitur I have ever seen. THAT is delusional. Look up the word.
      SO, we have to have YOUR god ?

      October 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Ed, you are just plain NUTS. No other god before me?? Seriously??? and how is that NOT a theocracy???

      October 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • NoTheism

      @edmundburkeson, so your god does recognize that there are other gods and that it is not the only one... and all it is asking, apparently, is that all the other gods come after him.
      A big of a jealous guy, apparently...

      October 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Wrong government, ed. You're thinking of Iran. Perhaps you should go there to get a taste of the sort of theocracy you desire.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • psst's understudy

      @edmund: "its" is a possessive. "It's" is short for "it is."

      You don't appear to be very well educated.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  18. dan o

    If we relied on the church to solve our problems, we wouldn't even have doctors.

    October 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Damocles

      Sure we would... prayer docs.... 100 bucks per hour of prayer... if the prayers don't work, it's your own fault for being such a gawd awful sinner.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  19. dan o

    they tried praying away problems in the middle ages. It didn't work.

    Then a few great thinkers went against the teachings of the church and started a scientific revolution.
    It had much success.

    If you want to pray away your problems, become a christian scientist and see how that works out for you.

    As for me, I will stick with Science and the scientific method

    October 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      some more hinduism absurdity of follower of hindu Mithra sim, pagan savior ism, Church dungeon of hinduism, illegality of Scientology, science is nothing more than a medium to reach truth of a matter, having no authority of it's own, but dependent on human brain to move foreword. No wonder hindu's pray to matter not truth absolute GOD, essence of existence.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • NoTheism

      "GOD, essence of existence."
      which god are you talking about? There are many, you know.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      None other than one, truth absolute, nothing can exist without, having no form, nor a body, but foundation of every thing in existence, rest of it is hinduism, absurdity of hindu's, ignorant's having no clue of God.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Reasonable Christian

      Yes, because the majority of modern Christians believe in spontaneous generation and dismiss modern science, right? A lot of people don't even realize that the Vatican recognizes Evolution. Please educate yourself before you point out assumed ignorance in others

      October 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hindu pagan Vatican is no slandered to measure any thing, a cross between dog and a wolf, hyenas.

      October 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      martinkinard@hotmail.com... that is my e-mail.. write me and we'll talk.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven

    October 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Michael

      ... by absolutely nothing whatsoever.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • another repentant sinner

      My life has been changed by prayer.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Athy

      It probably has. You wasted a lot of time you could have used doing something useful, liking learning the truth.

      October 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      "Rev. Moon died from overwork, frequent trips aboard and FROM MORNING PRAYERS which caused respiratory disease," Ahn Ho-yeol, a church spokesman said.

      Yup .. prayer changed things for him for sure!

      October 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • TR6

      Yes, we all saw how well that worked out for Jim and Tami Baker

      October 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • GotMiracle

      Yes. My doctor asked me what I did after I showed him my permanent bone fusion had healed during the week between our appointments. I told him "I prayed". He said "Whatever you're doing. Keep on doing it!". Scientific studies also show that prayer has a positive effect upon length & quality of life. If you believe in science, then.....

      October 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @GotMiracle, so "god" healed YOU because you prayed? What about the millions of others who pray and get NO help? What of the millions of parents who pray for a cure for their children, and yet they die by the millions? What you are doing is called counting the hits, ignoring the misses. It is an epic failure of the Christian faith.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      GotMiracle, I think you are a liar or delusional or both. Please provide references to the scientific studies you claim exist and the name and contact information for your doctor. I bet he doesn't believe prayer did anything and that you will not subject yourself to a thorough scientific investigation of your claim. Put up or shut up!

      October 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Edweird69

      So true! I prayed for my pe nis to fall off, and for a va gina to grow. Now I'm all woman. Thank you Jeebus.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • GotMiracle

      I am neither a liar, nor the slightest bit delusional. Medical tests conducted by specialists would not be influenced by anything I believe or disbelieve.
      Frankly; I have absolutely no idea why I received a miracle when other people I knew who were more worthy did not. I assure you that it has made me do a lot of thinking & I still haven't figured it out.
      All I know is; I was unable to function properly & I asked for help. No elaborate prayers, just a sincere heartfelt plea. I am running in a 5k on the 21st of October. I currently run 4 miles in 45 minutes, 3 times a week.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      So, you admit you have no facts, just unsupported irrational beliefs. That sounds delusional to me.

      October 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Got, I believe that YOU believe that something miraculous happened to you, when in fact there is no such thing as miracles. Perhaps SOMETHING did happen to you, doctors will tell you that things happen beyond their knowledge all the time, but I assure you god had NOTHING to do with it. You still need to answer my questions about WHY you think you were chosen over the countless others who pray and get nothing. Does not NOT make you think that something is wrong with your ass ertion?

      October 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • GotMiracle

      Fused bones do not heal in less than 3 hours, period.
      There were bone scans, & bone biopsies. X-rays were performed for each provider . The primary care diagnosis, specialist consult, & second opinion were all carried out by independent physicians who all possessed board certification. Their verdict was incontrovertible. Permanent fusion of the bones. Surgery was not an option due to the certainty of fusion afterwards.
      I went to sleep at 3 AM after prayer with the fusion present, & awoke at 5AM without it.
      Perfectly normal X-Rays afterwards. No sign of any fusion.
      This is a structural impossibility. They are bones. Calcium.
      If there were not so many crackpots on the internet, I would provide a link & let you all eat crow!
      Go ahead, continue to disbelieve. It is your loss if you are given the knowledge & refuse to use it.
      At least I gave you the information.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Got, WHAT PROOF??? You are no different than any other Christian. You make a claim and expect us to take it on faith that what you claim is Proof, when in fact it is nothing more than another story. As I said, perhaps something did happen to you, but my guess is that since I have nothing to examine your claim, I have to file it along with all the other claims of Miracles that the Catholic Church is so fond of pitching.

      October 8, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • End Religion

      a misdiagnosis from a quack does not equal god

      October 8, 2012 at 7:39 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.