October 10th, 2012
05:39 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Wednesday, October 10

By Arielle Hawkins, CNN

Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.

From the Blog: 

CNN: Survey: Protestants are no longer majority in U.S.
Following a string of recent developments that suggest waning Protestant power – like the first Supreme Court with no Protestant justices, and a Protestant-free Republican presidential ticket – a new Pew survey finds that Protestants are no longer the majority in the United States. The Protestant population has declined from 53% of the U.S. population in 2007 to 48% this year, according to the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, released Tuesday.

CNN: Surprise Mormon announcement could open doors for more women missionaries
Big news broke in the Mormon world this weekend, when the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a lowered minimum age requirement for missionary service, most notably for women.

CNN: Man arrested in plot to blow up 48 churches in Oklahoma
Authorities in Oklahoma have arrested and charged a 23-year-old man who they say planned to blow up 48 area churches. Gregory Arthur Weiler II was arrested last week at a motel in Miami, Oklahoma, according to Ben Loring, first assistant district attorney for Ottawa County.

Belief on TV:

Enlightening Reads: ,

Catholic News Agency: First religious freedom caucuses launch in nine states,
A group of more than 120 bipartisan state legislators have created caucuses in nine states to address threats to religious liberty and learn from the experiences of other lawmakers. “These are the first state caucuses ever to focus exclusively on religious freedom,” said Tim Schulz, state legislative policy director at the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The Jewish Daily Forward: The Jews of Hollywood - A New Book Examines Cinema’s Chosen People
The co-editors of “Hollywood’s Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema” stake their claim in the first sentence of their introduction: “This book sets out to mark a new and challenging path of the role of Jews and their experience in Hollywood filmmaking.” To some degree, they live up to this goal, in a varied collection that tends to get livelier as it proceeds. But considering how slippery and elastic their definitions of “Jews” can be, part of their path strikes me as familiar and questionable.

The Los Angeles Times: Group sues Santa Monica to restore Nativity scene tradition,
The group responsible for exhibiting an annual tableau of Nativity scenes in Santa Monica's Palisades Park for nearly 60 years filed suit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday seeking to restore the tradition. The Santa Monica City Council in June voted to ban private displays in the park after atheists sparked a dispute over the tradition.

Religion News Service: The story behind the Dalai Lama’s chair,
Lots of rock stars expect cushy perks at the venues where they perform. Requests can include special food and drink, music, video games and even a puppy to play fetch. For the Dalai Lama, it’s all about the oversized chair. Syracuse University requested the special seating for the spiritual leader of Tibet who spoke on campus Monday (Oct. 8), and it’s obvious he enjoyed the spacious accommodations. As he should. The red leather and wood Stickley chair was made especially for him — three times.

Excerpt of the Day: 

A psychiatrist treating mental illness
Views an unruly patient with sympathy.
The cause of wrong action comes from the illness;
Those who harm you the same you must see.

In his book Ocean of Compassion, Tenzin Norbu offers a Buddhist view of dealing with those who wrong us. “You can also view people who have harmed you as having acted from ignorance and needing your help,” he explains.

Join the conversation…

CNN: Survey: One in five Americans has no religion,
The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion. The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Test


    October 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  2. niknak

    Hello all.
    It is another beautiful evening without god(s).

    Time for another single malt and some new tunes.
    Just bought The Orb with Lee "scratch" Perry. Fantastic!
    All made by man's ingenuity, NOT by god(s).

    October 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • nope


      October 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • .

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "The Truth" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian..,

      October 11, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    October 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Jesus

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

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  4. hippypoet

    has there ever been a culture without a known god or gods to whom to worship?

    can you imagine what people who DO worship a god or gods would think upon coming into contact with these godless peoples....tell me now what you think would happen upon contact – not just first contact but rather the prolonged contact with the two differing cultures.

    October 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  5. mama kindless

    Every once in a while someone on these boards will try to convince you that the U.S. was founded on Christianity or solely on Christian principles. There are several problems with this notion.

    First, it is presumptuous to assume that any group "owns" a certain kind of principle. Secondly, we know that several of the key founding fathers had strong leanings towards Deism, which was popular around the time of the founding, and sharply differed from Trinitarian Christianity. We know that several of the important ratifiers and even the chief designers of our Const!tution grew up as Anglican and other forms of Christianity, but leaned towards Deism, especially later in life.

    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. There was a significant amount of persecution between different forms of Christianity going on during those times, so it should not be any surprise that the key founders had an immediate need for the separation of church and state. Here are some of my favorite writings from some of the key founders of our country.

    James Madison (Deist, our 4th President, was the chief architect of the U.S. 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, superst!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, our 3rd President, was the key author of the Declaration of Independence)

    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.

    –Letter (as POTUS) to the Virginia Baptists (1808)

    and then of course we have clarifying moments in history such as:

    President John Adams and the U.S. Senate on behalf of the U.S.

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

    -from Article 11 of the U.S. treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797

    Senator John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election:

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

    October 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Topher

      Hey, Mama. How are you?

      October 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • mama kindless

      I am fine, thank you.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Topher

      I think you were starting to mention this the other day, but I was wondering if you believe in a literal heaven and hell.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • mama kindless

      Topher: No, I do not.

      Topher – I am quite atheist, but I am just slightly agnostic regarding deity. And actually, I wouldn't even call it deity – I would just say that I ponder affecting force(s) that may not necessarily be in the present, may not necessarily represent higher intelligence, and with that, I also ponder things that may have only been before the big bang. I also am very open to this notion of multiverse. I am open to quite a number of ideas, just not the ones I've discounted for myself like the rehashed folklore that men have churned out over the millenia.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • The finisher

      Most of them were Deists yes.Kinda funny, atheists blame Christianity for the killing of Indians yet...it was ALL for land? Ignorant atheist=not logical at all.Atheists who blame religion to feel better=pathetic liars.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  6. Robert Brown

    I have encountered something on here several times and would just like to offer some thoughts. The idea from some nonbelievers is that if there is a God and that God is the God of Abraham then he is evil and immoral and not worthy of worship, because he would kill his children and punish them for eternity.
    The idea that a nonbeliever is a child of God is incorrect. Flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit, and no flesh will inherit the kingdom of God. God has provided a way where you can become one of his children, but if you haven’t been born of the spirit you are not his child.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm not ready to declare God evil, though someone will probably come along who is. I have been puzzled by the idea that the God of Abraham is entirely good. The creation of that God, our world, includes evil. Moreover, if that God created hell, that creation is evil. Did that God, entirely good, create something that would require it to co-exist eternally with evil?

      October 10, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Tom, Tom, the Other One,
      I think God created the knowledge of both good and evil, although I don’t think he sees his judgment as evil. Do you think it would be possible to know love without knowing hate?

      October 10, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Jill

      Robert Brown, the only reason atheists make up all their horror stories against God is because they love to sin and refuse to give up their sinful ways.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • hippypoet

      "if you haven’t been born of the spirit you are not his child."

      good stuff robert. And how pray tell does one be born of the spirit as you so beautifully worded it?

      @ Jill – too funny. Even if we atheists do bad things, we did them...in full control of oursevles and take full responibility for them – well some of us...oh wait, thats the same thing for you believers – only you folks have a scapegoat to fall back on...its like pleading the 5th with you people....only in eyes it makes you look worse, like more insane then you already may be.

      We atheists do everything you believers do minus worshipping a god of any form. remember that. We are in no way different asides from perhaps having the slightest more of a grasp on reality then you folks.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • .


      October 10, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Robert Brown

      The simplest way to tell how to be born of the spirit is to agree with God and trust him.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "Moreover, if that God created hell, that creation is evil."

      I don't see creating Hell as evil. I see it as just. Shouldn't lawbreakers be punished?

      October 10, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Ja/panese hadn't the foggiest concept of the Abrahamic religions prior to the 1500s.
      Did they all go to hell prior to encountering Christian missionaries, or only after?

      October 10, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • mama kindless

      You are assuming too much right off the bat, RB with:

      "The idea from some nonbelievers is that if there is a God and that God is the God of Abraham . ."

      Why would a nonbeliever even entertain your notion? Well, to be fair, I have to assume that your definition of "nonbeliever" is in fact, someone who does not believe in the God of Abraham. Please correct me if you mean something else.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One


      Regarding the knowledge of Good and Evil and whether it is possible to know love without knowing hate: Genesis suggests that your God of Abraham did not intend for his creation to have such knowledge.


      A place filled with everything judged evil is not evil itself? Perhaps it's like an event horizon behind which God, like physicists, can hide inconvenient things?

      October 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Doc Vestibule,
      I think God views those who have never heard of him as innocent children.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      mama kindles,
      Good Afternoon. You are correct in my definition of nonbeliever. You noticed the if’s in my post. I think you have made similar statements yourself as far as the God of Abraham being too evil to be worthy of worship if he exists.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • mama kindless

      RB: " I think you have made similar statements yourself as far as the God of Abraham being too evil to be worthy of worship if he exists."

      Good afternoon, RB. No – For many, many years, prior to participating in these comments, I have given no attribute toward the GofA since I don't believe that God exists. There is no reason to give an attribute like that to something you don't think exists. See my response to Topher that is more recent to see where I am coming from which is light years away from the GofA regarding deity.

      My point was that with this lead-off where you say: "The idea from some nonbelievers is that if there is a God and that God is the God of Abraham . ." doesn't make any sense because a nonbeliever would not agree with anything starting from the "if" since they are a nonbeliever. See? Maybe if you worded it differently to simply say "some nonbelievers don't believe because . . ." that might be clearer.

      October 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • OTOH

      "... the only reason atheists make up all their horror stories against God is because they love to sin and refuse to give up their sinful ways."

      Perhaps that would be YOUR reason for not believing. It is not mine (nor any atheist/agnostic that I know).

      Sometimes I almost wish that your fantasy were true - pretty slick - I could behave just like I do now (quite well, thank you very much) and be rewarded for eternity, if I just would worship that imaginary monster god of The Bible!

      October 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Brrrr

      “Eskimo Joe: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"

      Preacher: "No, not if you did not know."

      Eskimo Joe: "Then why did you tell me?"”

      October 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Doesn't the doctrine of original sin mean that everyone is a sinner in need of salvation?
      And where do the ignorant babies go? Heaven? Hell? Limbo? Purgatory?

      October 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Doc Vestibule,
      Yes, everyone is in need of salvation, but there is an age of accountability. Those below that age go to heaven. I think the age is not a number of years. There was one place in the bible where those 20 and under were not held accountable, in another place 25. I think it depends.

      October 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I think that an all-powerful, good god would certainly know how to have love without hate and paradise without hell.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  7. His cur jests

    Curb your Dog.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:13 am |
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.