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Secular coalition grades presidential candidates
October 17th, 2012
09:11 AM ET

Secular coalition grades presidential candidates

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – When judged on their ability to relate to the desires of secular Americans, the presidential candidates aren’t making the grade, according to a large coalition of secular organizations.

Looking at their positions on everything from faith’s place in the presidency to where it fits in education, health care and other American priorities, GOP candidate Mitt Romney got an F, President Barack Obama barely got by, earning a C, and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson came out at the top of the class, receiving a B.

At a time when the Pew Forum determined the religiously unaffiliated are the fastest growing “religious” group in America, with one in five Americans not affiliated with any religion, a candidate scorecard from secularists should matter, says Lauren Anderson Youngblood, spokeswoman for the Secular Coalition for America.

The coalition, which is made up of a collection of atheist, humanist and agnostic organizations, set out to grade the candidates by first identifying the criteria it deemed most important. The coalition then crafted questions to determine where the politicians stack up when it comes to, say, their stances on faith-based initiatives, public prayer and support of the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The group pulled media reports and speech transcripts to find answers and further analyze these politicians’ performances on issues that matter to secular voters.

The coalition asked, for example, “What role would religion play in the candidate's decision-making as president of the United States?”

Based on an Obama speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2012, one in which the president said he has “fallen on my knees” and asked God for guidance “in the life of this nation,” the group handed down an F. But Romney didn’t fare any better – earning the same grade for saying in his 2007 speech on faith in America that he “will also offer perspectives on how my own faith would inform my presidency, if I were elected.”

Marks given for various questions were then added up to determine the candidates’ final grades.

Though the goal in doing this was to “help people who vote on secular values” decide who to vote for, the coalition spokeswoman believes the results could be valuable to the candidates, too.

“Political parties need to learn how to reach out to the secular community, and I think tools like the scorecard will help them do that,” Youngblood said.

The scorecard faults Obama on his continuation of faith-based initiatives, his support of keeping “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and his participation in prayer events. Obama earned As for his recognition of America as a secular nation, his appreciation of the separation of church and state, and his support of science in education.

Out of 17 categories, Romney received two As – for his support of science in education and his willingness to appoint someone secular, which he said he would do in a 2007 interview with NBC’s Tim Russert. Romney’s more common grade, though, is an F, where the coalition faults him for his use of faith in decision-making, his stance on separation of church and state and his use of religious beliefs to determine public health care policy.

Youngblood told CNN that the coalition did send questionnaires to each campaign, allowing them to answer for themselves, but no one responded – a result she called “unfortunate.”

“Many of them have religion and government intertwined,” Youngblood said, “and we are not even on their radar, not even important enough to return our questionnaire.”

But one party in particular may soon have to take notice, says John Green, a senior adviser to Pew.

Pointing to 2008 exit polls and findings that 63% of the religiously unaffiliated identify with or lean Democrat, he said that group may be poised to gain a foothold, much as the religious right gained power in the GOP in the 1980s.

For many secularists, agnostics and atheists, a standing and recognized influence can’t come soon enough.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Belief • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (325 Responses)
  1. Anybody know how to read?

    Affirmative Action is what they really want.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. fred

    mama k

    “ It is slipping away from the believers and younger people for good reason – people more than ever require credible proof of something before they are going to believe it.”
    =>There is no proof that life erupted from spontaneous creation or the touching of multiple universes yet some believe that. There is no proof that upon death we are no different than a frog that turns to dust yet some believe that. There is no proof that 20,000 manuscripts attesting to Jesus and his followers were contrived to fit a conspiracy theory yet some believe that.
    In 2010 there were 2.3 billion Christians worldwide and in 2005 there were 2 billion. Christianity has not decreased in numbers if you accept facts as “proof”. Islam has grown considerably more but I assume you are speaking of Christians.

    “If there really was credible proof of any of the main events in Christianity, it would most likely be the only religion on the planet by now.”
    =>that assumption goes against what history reveals and clearly goes against what the Bible teaches. The Bible shows a pattern of believers in God dwindling down to a remnant then rebounding.

    “People want credible proof of the existence of the god of Abraham, they want credible proof of the resurrection, they want credible proof of Paul's vision. If you can't supply any of that, then just say you can't and move on.”
    =>no, people want to remain in darkness and enjoy what they believe to be desires God finds sinful. What credible proof would be enough and what value would there be to a soul that demands God become like man rather than man become like God? You are the one all bound up in evolution. Tell me does a man evolve back into the apes of Africa? Have you failed to notice that as man has evolved his understanding of God as also evolved? God has moved from being in the heavens to the cloud for the people wandering the desert to the arc of the Hebrew to with us in Christ to in us by the power of the Holy Spirit? Can you not see God being revealed in the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit? I did not write this stuff it was written thousands of years ago and bit by bit the picture becomes clearer as we gain the capacity to accept it. As smart as we think we are we cannot describe God we can only see what has been revealed as we can accept it.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
      Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
      Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
      One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
      In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
      One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
      One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

      October 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Veritas

      Fred. Very little in the bible is historically true. Certainly none of the creation myth is correct. Religion dates from a time when very little science was known and only a few in a village/tribe were "educated". It has pretty much always been used to control the population; less so over the last few centuries. As more is known and education becomes more widespread we'll have no need for these ancient myths and superstitions.
      We don't know some answers but that doesn't mean that a god or gods were involved.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • mama k

      I have to assume this was a reply to something, but no problem,

      mama k wrote: “ It [religion] is slipping away from the believers and younger people for good reason – people more than ever require credible proof of something before they are going to believe it.”

      fred: "There is no proof that life erupted from spontaneous creation or the touching of multiple universes yet some believe that. There is no proof that upon death we are no different than a frog that turns to dust yet some believe that."

      I would not disagree. Those are things we consider as we wonder and remain open about what creation could be about.

      fred: "There is no proof that 20,000 manuscripts attesting to Jesus and his followers were contrived to fit a conspiracy theory yet some believe that."

      I wouldn't argue that point. My position is simpler than that point. My position is simply that the writings or word of mouth based on other word of mouth or other writings from millennia ago are not sufficient to lend credibility that man has ever had contact with a higher being. History has shown that it's not that difficult to obtain believers of something amongst human beings. Many people are like that – they just don't question nor search for credible proof of the existence of something and just take it for granted.

      (fred) And then fred gave some statistics about Christian populations worldwide where he said:
      "In 2010 there were 2.3 billion Christians worldwide and in 2005 there were 2 billion. Christianity has not decreased in numbers if you accept facts as “proof”. Islam has grown considerably more but I assume you are speaking of Christians."

      Well I wouldn't necessarily argue the point about Islam. But I question your figures on Christianity. The Pew Forum on Religion and Pulic Life estimates Christians at 2.18 billion in 2010, and it does seem that the 2 billion was a good number for 2005. So that's only half the rate increase of how the worldwide population change over the same years.

      mama k had written: "If there really was credible proof of any of the main events in Christianity, it would most likely be the only religion on the planet by now.”

      fred: "that assumption goes against what history reveals and clearly goes against what the Bible teaches. The Bible shows a pattern of believers in God dwindling down to a remnant then rebounding."

      I could care less what the Bible teaches about my notion. OK, it seems you missed my point on that so, I will just let others consider your response to that as-is.

      (from my original post) mama k: “People want credible proof of the existence of the god of Abraham, they want credible proof of the resurrection, they want credible proof of Paul's vision. If you can't supply any of that, then just say you can't and move on.”

      fred: "no, people want to remain in darkness and enjoy what they believe to be desires God finds sinful. What credible proof would be enough and what value would there be to a soul that demands God become like man rather than man become like God?"

      No, fred, people are recognizing rehashed folklore for what it is. Man dreamed up his gods. All of them. You are the one who believes you have a portion of your existence that is not only biological and requires the god this that other people sold you on.

      fred: "You are the one all bound up in evolution. Tell me does a man evolve back into the apes of Africa?"

      Actually, I don't pay much attention to evolution except to read the latest news on it. It is interesting, but it actually doesn't affect my view on religion.

      fred: "Have you failed to notice that as man has evolved his understanding of God as also evolved? God has moved from being in the heavens to the cloud for the people wandering the desert to the arc of the Hebrew to with us in Christ to in us by the power of the Holy Spirit? Can you not see God being revealed in the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit?"

      Sure, but not the way you notice it. I see where over time the major religions have simply done through great lengths to do all they can to bolster support for their basic tenets, but in terms of providing credible proof of all the magic that they claim, they are at a loss. Also, I should point out that rehashing folklore as you move into the OT and then trying to build on that is a better description for man's evolved "understanding of [his] God".

      fred: "I did not write this stuff it was written thousands of years ago and bit by bit the picture becomes clearer as we gain the capacity to accept it."

      That's what is dangerous to the rational mind – accepting something so easily written millennia ago that has little to no credibility. When you say " the picture becomes clearer as we gain the capacity to accept it", I say sure – the mind is a powerful thing. You can talk yourself into making just about anything clear if you want it to be.

      fred: "As smart as we think we are we cannot describe God we can only see what has been revealed as we can accept it."

      As I said, you can make yourself believe anything, your mind can make you accept things. But if you can't prove it to anyone presently and if it's based on folklore for which there is little to no proof, then there's a pretty good chance that the whole thing is in your head and that rehashed folklore is rehashed folklore.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • fred

      Veritas
      “Certainly none of the creation myth is correct”
      =>There is no need for Genesis to line up with a prevalent temporal thought of today as that was not the purpose of Genesis. Genesis lays out the purpose and origin of life according to God. Science and the Bible are about two different aspects of our known and unknown world around us. However, I did comment once on your assertion genesis got it wrong to which I disagreed.
      I am off to a meeting and will be back and reply shortly. I really need to understand how there is a scientific conflict regarding Genesis. There must be something I am missing.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Freddy goes to a LOT of meetings. I wonder if he's in AA.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • haaaa

      I think the Reddit troll and Tom tom are the same person!!!

      October 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • fred

      Veritas
      Creation according to the Divine Word of God Genesis 1 science in CAPS;

      FIRST CAUSE
      “In the beginning God” (v1) – we are given the first cause, causation

      BIG BANG
      “created the heavens and the earth” (v1) – matter and energy created ,singularity establishing time and space
      “Earth dark formless mass “(v 2) – chaotic sub atomic particles

      STAR IGNITION
      “Let there be light ” (Day One) – God was the light or light from reionizing the universe

      PLANETARY ACCRETION=>EARTH, MOON=> WATER=> ATMOSPERE
      “Separated the waters to make atmosphere” (Day Two) – molten earth or water forming atmosphere as cools.

      VEGETATION OXYGENATED ATMOSPHERE
      “Dry land, seas and vegetation”(Day Three)- oceans and land

      NO SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION
      “Sun moon stars”(Day Four)- God “set” or stabilized position for key purposes.

      AQUATIC LIFE, BIRDS
      “Creatures of the sea then birds”(Day Five) –

      MAMMALS
      “Land creatures then man”(Day Six)-

      At issue may be day four where; day, night, calendar, navigation, etc. are established prior to the beginning of advanced life forms. The sun the moon and visible stars were “set into the expanse” and now these lights rather than early lights from star and galaxy formation regulate and have greatest affect. Some scientific conflict may relate to time beginning at the Big Bang rather than observable time dependent on higher life forms.
      At issue may be the appearance of birds before mammals but that is a evolutionary distinction that is unsettled.

      October 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  3. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    Human I have an used camel for sale. It is very religious, prays ALLAH five times a day, looking for a new home. It has low millage and runs good. I have all service records. When gas prices are 4 dollars a gallon, camel is the way to save some money. It also qualifies under Obama's Green Energy Program! Asking price is $1750 or BO.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  4. hippypoet

    why do people keep saying this is a christian nation? I think if anything this country would be a mormon country since it was founded here...but since mythology is all myths lets all be happy we live in a country where people can believe what they wish and be open about it yet those beliefs based on nothing more then each persons personal "experiences" which are questionable at best have little impact on the government which dictates the laws we live by....WRONG! It is in our consti.tuation that politics and religion would be separated for even then we knew the inherit issues religion brings when hard, real, and life altering choices need to be made that don't only effect you but many others as well....LETS BE A BETTER GENERATION THEN THAT WHICH CAME BEFORE, LETS BE THAT WHICH WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN HUNREDS OF YEARS AGO, LETS BE A PEOPLE GOVERNED BY LAWS CREATED BY THOSE THAT ARE GOVERNED, ALL OF US – THAT INCLUDES ALL – religious and non religious a
    like...white and black side by side...lets be a country of laws instead of a land of god! I here and now ask again why, why have we never seen an atheistic view point in the body of government we call our own? Shouldn't logic and reason be held with higher regard then belief for a god which based on our laws should have no impact on choices made by that person??? Why then do people vote on a religious basis and not merit, honor, and integrity? Why in this country do we seem to teach that having faith in god is more important then having knowledge and wisdom based on lived experience rather then stories based on 2000 year old morals and ethics???? Lets grow up and start living up to our const.ituation, or is that just another truthless notion to which people claim to live by?

    October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  5. niknak

    Hey, if Mittens wins, will he have to use a book of mormon to be sworn in with?
    He does not believe in the bible, so will you xtian fundies be all up in arms about him not using one?
    Or be more offended that he will use one when not actually believing in it?
    It sure is complicated when you all have so many different magic books out there.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Time will tell.

      Maybe the Mormans will finally drag out Joeseph Smith's golden tablets for the swearing in, what a revelation that would be. LOL

      October 18, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  6. GO_GOP

    Seek Jesus and be saved.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Seek Thor and hammer out Jesus

      October 18, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • John

      Seek out jesus so you can be saved from jesus' fire and brimstone? P*iss off, nutcase.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • hippypoet

      so i seek a hispanic and i am saved... sweet. thank you for the tip.
      here is one in return – always eat yellow snow, it is a lemon flavored snow cone...keep the faith.

      🙂

      October 18, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • niknak

      Forget jeebus and use your time on more important things, like getting to know your family/friends/neighbors better.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Believe in my god or he will set you on fire for eternity"

      October 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Kris

      IRAN IS ONE NATION UNDER GOD. PLEASE EVERYONE BE GUIDED BY REASON AND NOT BLIND FAITH AND BRONZE AGE BELIEFS!

      October 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Dippy

      Caps off, please.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  7. Really what are they thinking

    Secularists should be intelligent enough to understand that a large majority of voters do believe in God. Elections are not won by antagonizing a large segment of the population. Instead of trying to force a plank into the platform that makes them feel all warm and fuzzy they need to think beyond those fuzzy feelings that produce nothing. All they can accomplish with this is alienate a large group of voters like the GOP has done with some of their extreme planks in their platform.

    Moderate voters are ultimately what will give victory to candidates. Independent voters are the largest growing group out there. Find a position that connects with them and go for it. Zealots do not just have to be religious and both types are blind.

    October 18, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Secularism is in the const.itution.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      Speaking of blind...

      You obviously do not have a balanced view of this situation from your biased perspective.

      We are only now beginning to find a voice in this society, and we will be using it without fear or concern that it offends believers.

      From a secularist point of view, religious dogma has shaped gov't policy for far too long. We are looking forward to an age of reason free of religious distortion and undue influence.

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

      Being an atheist, and a secularist by that, I have no issue with having a candidate profess his belief, or the party having some reference to god.
      I would rather it be left out completely from politics, but I understand we just have not come far enough.
      But what I can't tolerate, is a party having a plank that insists god be included in running the government/personal lives of Americans. And trying to force a religion on us.
      THAT is what the gop has done. They want to make this a xtian nation, and make public policy based on the bible.
      All xtians are up in arms about Sharia law, yet they are trying to do the same thing here.
      The far right is trying to turn this country into the xtian version of Saudi Arabia.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Jeff, I am just curious, where exactly do you think our inalienable rights come from?

      October 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I find it really ironic when christians claim their god gave us our "inalienable rights" including being free to believe what we want without punishment and yet they believe their god is justified in punishing us for that same "inalienable right".

      October 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      From Jebus?

      October 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  8. ryan

    I totally respect the secularist movement and their right to not beleive in a higher power. I myself am a chrisian and my decisions are based on moral teaching found in the Bible, which, for the most part are the same moral following of atheists and agnostics. The main difference between us is that Christians believe that our lives are created by God and that we will spend eternity with him and atheists don't. I have no problem having a secular leader, as long as he does not interfere with my right to practice my faith and share my faith with others. Atheists should be and are welcome to do the same.

    October 18, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Damocles

      @ryan

      Sharing is fine, I guess, but I see all too often that believers are unwilling to hear the word 'stop'. No means no.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Primewonk

      Ryan, the problem is that these fundiot nutters want to force their religious myths into our secular laws and our public schools.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      ryan,

      Your position is reasonable and well thought out. I and no other atheist that I am aware of would want to legislate against anyones personal belief. I wish the same could be said of the many christians I have talked to.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  9. notraitors

    "When judged on their ability to relate to the desires of secular Americans, the presidential candidates aren’t making the grade"

    Please explain to me why we should care. And please tell me how many people have overcome addiction and how many marriages have been saved by adhering to atheism.

    October 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      First off, anybody who would try to use their lack of belief in a deity to overcome their addiction or save their marriage is an idiot.

      Second, even if Christianity saved a million marriages and atheism saved none, it doesn't change the fact that atheists are right and Christians are wrong.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Well, lets see, what would work better for a crackhead? "Dear invisible man in the sky, please do all the work for me and kick my drug habbit." Or..."Hey, Im a crackhead, I should take accountability for myself and kick this habbit myself, because im the only one thats going to make it happen."

      October 18, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Jeff

      Variation in divorce rates by religion:

      Religion % have been divorced
      Jews 30%
      Born-again Christians 27%
      Other Christians 24%
      Atheists, Agnostics 21%

      October 18, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Jeff that's a pretty high percentage for only 4% of the population isn't it? As to the rational approach to overcoming addiction, it seems plausible but in reality it does not work. Hence those who find themselves at the doors of various twelve step meetings, the most successful addiction recovery movement of all time, come to the recognition that they are beyond human help and must choose between death or seeking a spiritual solution.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • mama k

      Well of course, Bill, the 12-step program would be seen as "the most successful addiction recovery movement of all time" since it has to address the large population of Christian addicts running around.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bill
      I'm an addict who recovered without any kind of 12 step program.
      When I turned 20, I realized that I'd been to a dozen of my friend's funerals in the span of a year and was heading that way myself.
      I thought long and hard about what I could do to kick my habits. Every day for 5 years, I had been consuming just about whatever I could get my hands on in the port city of Victoria. In the last year, I had managed to develop a serious amphetamine habit. I eventually decided that I needed a drastic change in environment and social circles, so I moved far away from temptation and cleaned myself up.
      I've been sober for 13 years without the help of any 12 step programs, counsellors or peer groups.
      I did it by accepting responsibility for my own life and recognizing that only I can change my life, not by abdicating my choices to some kind of supernatural enti/ty.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bill,

      You are either ignorant or are being very deceitful regard the percentage of atheist divorce rate. It is 21% of the total. And the christian amount is a higher percentage of THEIR total. Why would the atheist percentage be considered large in your view point and the christian percentage that is HIGHER not considered LARGER?

      Second, since god is one their side why would the christian rate be high at all? Your god must not be very effective. Or are these people not living the christian faith correctly, which would then a failier of christianity in general.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  10. IslandAtheist

    Romney believes harder

    October 18, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I like the way the veins stand out in his neck and face as he believes.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    It is a pity that every man has only one life here on earth, and Benjamin Franklin cannot come back from the place of eternal rest to solve America's problems.

    Benjamin Franklin, the First American, about the faith (this is from his Autobiography which is even available online):

    I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd with other articles,

    which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv'd principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another.

    This respect to all, with an opinion that the worst had some good effects, induc'd me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as our province increas'd in people, and new places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contributions, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect, was never refused.

    Tho' I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He us'd to visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me to attend his administrations, and I was now and then prevail'd on to do so, once for five Sundays successively. Had he been in my opinion a good preacher, perhaps I might have continued, notwithstanding the occasion I had for the Sunday's leisure in my course of study; but his discourses were chiefly either polemic arguments, or explications of the peculiar doctrines of our sect, and were all to me very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying, since not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforc'd, their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.

    At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth chapter of Philippians, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, if there be any virtue, or any praise, think on these things." And I imagin'd, in a sermon on such a text, we could not miss of having some morality. But he confin'd himself to five points only, as meant by the apostle, viz.: 1. Keeping holy the Sabbath day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy Scriptures. 3. Attending duly the publick worship. 4. Partaking of the Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to God's ministers. These might be all good things; but, as they were not the kind of good things that I expected from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more. I had some years before compos'd a little Liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use (viz., in 1728), enti-tled, Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion. I return'd to the use of this, and went no more to the public assemblies. My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it, without attempting further to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate facts, and not to make apologies for them.

    Rainer: Also the Pruzzian King Frederic the Great was very disappointed by the Protestant Church of his time, although he loved the genuine doctrine of Jesus Christ: Love God and your neighbour through the power which God gives you as a free present despite your sinful flesh (body).

    I as a believer agree with Benjamin and Frederic: Our current churches are totally corrupted, they don't teach the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ but harmful heresies. Don't let us forsake Christianity but the churches which have been infiltrated by wolves in sheep's clothing, and let us reform the churches and chase away the criminal leaders.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    October 18, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      There seems to be no lack of people who have the will and the traits that are required to rise within a social hierarchy. Churches are a great attraction to such people. Government is too. Unfortunately, the special traits have nothing to do with human decency except that they include mimicry of things we recognize as decency. Romney is a splendidly imperfect example. He has a great appearance and great charisma. Because of it people are willing to suspend judgment as a he constantly redefines himself to match what people are looking for in a leader on any given day – he does not have a core of ideas or principles, but appearances are everything.

      October 18, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  12. Colin

    A future history book is likely to read, “As late as the 21st Century, Americans still chose their President in no small part based on his views toward Christianity and its offshoot faiths. Given that Christianity was little more than Dark Ages philosophical musings over Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, this is quite remarkable for a country and a people who were otherwise quite advanced.”

    October 18, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • GO_GOP

      Colin: I implore you to shed your disbelief and embrace Jesus. How can you be so ungrateful so as to turn your back to the one who died for your sins. The Bible is the word of our lord. Follow it and be saved from the tortures in hell.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • WASP

      @gop: mourning troll.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      What makes you think anybody is gonna care about history when they're too busy just trying too survive? You often have fantasies about the future, colin?

      October 18, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      colin fantasizes, '........this is quite remarkable for a country and a people who were otherwise quite advanced.' Dude, take a late night stroll in a close in burb of Detroit sometime. Pick another city if you so choose.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      @GOP

      There was nothing that particularly wonderful about Jesus and he didn't have an original philosophical idea. Not very impressive for the a so called "god".

      October 18, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • hippypoet

      @blessed are the cheesemakers –
      well its not meant to be taken literally, it referres to all distributors of dairy products.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • fred

      It will read they failed to see the power of the living God which was self evident to the 56 unanimous signers of the Declaration of Independence that laid the foundation upon God our creator. They forgot the prayer at the close of the Declaration of Independence that appealed to the Supreme Judge of the World to approve and bless the formation of the United States of America. The power of God was revealed in that nation becoming and remaining a super power in the world to this very day. The power of God was revealed through the people who elected a Christian for president of these United States that prayed and gave honor to God our creator through this very day. This was written in the year of our lord 2012 or AD2012.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  13. GO_GOP

    Secularists? That's a joke right? We are a Christian nation and secularists/atheists/agnostics have no place here. Their opinion does not count. Next..

    October 18, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • scb

      Gee, why am I not surprised you are a Republican? I think you missed the civics lesson where you were supposed to learn that everybody matters and the United States is a Democratic Republic in which church and state are separate. If you want a theocracy you will have to go elsewhere. (I attended a Catholic church last Sunday, so spare me the "you God haters" comments.)

      October 18, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It's retards like who who have ruined the GOP. Whatever happened to small government and low taxes? The GOP has gotten too interested in what people do with their bodies and with pointless foreign wars 10,000 miles away.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      That should be like you, GO GOP.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • WASP

      @gop: you know for a "christian" nation there sure are a lot of agnostics and atheists in the armed and civil services.
      you folks had your time being the largest group in america, your time has expired. hell not even the protestants are the largest group any longer and they are the ones that originally came here from england to escape persecution from the church of england.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • G8R

      Keep telling yourself that, even as your numbers are dwindling and ours are rising. Tick Tock...

      October 18, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Primewonk

      Why do fundiot nutters hate the constîtution?

      October 18, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """We are a Christian nation and secularists/atheists/agnostics have no place here. Their opinion does not count."""

      Dorothy, wake up!

      October 18, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Ethan

      If I hear this "We are a Christian Nation" BS one more time, I swear I'm going to get angry.

      FACT: Very few of our Founding Fathers considered themselves "Christian" (at least, in the way the Nutcase Fundies do today). The Majority of our Founding Fathers were Deists, who, a Rational men, used the Bible as a Guidebook for Ethical behavior, and little else.

      This Nation was founded largely by folks fleeing from the religious determinism that was oppressing them. Today, we seem to have forgotten this fact, and our Government hands out 501c(3) exemptions to nearly any nut who cares to call himself a "Church", no matter how vile and repugnant his beliefs might be (viz. Fred Phelps and his Westboro "Church").

      The "Talibangelicals" among us are the greatest danger this Country faces.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • mama k

      The U.S. by its very founding is not, and never was, defined as a Christian nation. Sure it has had a predominant Christian population. But the founders knew very well that it should not be defined as a Christian country.

      There was a significant amount of feuding and persecution between different Christian sects going on around the time of the founding (in several states or soon-to-be states), so it should not be any surprise that the key founders had an immediate need for the separation of church and state. This is most likely why we have these views from the key crafters of the Constitution:

      James Madison (our 4th President, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution):

      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, superstition, 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 (our 3rd President, 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 18, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  14. GO_GOP

    Secularists? That's a joke right? We are a Christian nation and secularists/atheists/agnostics have no place here. Their opinion does not count. Next.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • Kris

      HAIL SATAN!

      October 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  15. American Secular Census

    The American Secular Census, an independent national registry of demographic and viewpoint data recorded by Secular Americans, polled registrants on their choice of presidential candidate. Almost 79% support Barack Obama; Green Party candidate Jill Stein is a distant second at 10%. Despite the Secular Coalition for America's preferential rating, Libertarian Gary Johnson is favored by just under 7% of those registered with the Secular Census. Secular Americans participating in the Census must affirm during the free registration process that they are skeptical of supernatural claims including those normally associated with religion, so these are not simply "unaffiliated" voters but nonbelievers. These results do suggest that the nonreligious lean heavily Democratic. See http://www.SecularCensus.US/

    October 18, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      religious brainlessness makes good bedfellows with republican brainlessness.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  16. Charlie

    The study has been misrepresented by the media. The non-denominationals and most evangelicals are not counted because they are not traditional denominations. Are they religious? Absolutely. Are they liberal? No way. Yet they represent 6 million or more who are not accounted for.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What study? The latest Pew Forum data.

      I will grant you that people throw the "unaffilliated" label around very loosely, but the Pew Forum is very clear about it.

      "Yet they represent 6 million or more who are not accounted for."

      And 6 million is about 1.9% of Americans. These non-denominationals (if there are that many that are not encompassed in the "Evangelical Protestants" count) would represent less than 10% of the unaffilliated.

      The new Pew data: (2012)

      Unaffilliated (total) ....... 19.6%
      Atheist .......................... 2.4%
      Agnostic ....................... 3.3%
      Nothing in particular .... 13.9%

      Of these 'nones' (the total unaffilliated)
      Religious ............................. 18%
      Spiritual but not religious .... 37%
      Neither ................................ 42%

      As a portion of the whole US population
      Religious unaffilliated ............................... 3.5%
      Spiritual but not religious unaffiliated ........ 7.3%
      Neither spiritual or religious unaffilliated ... 8.2% – most, but not all of whom are atheist + agnostic (5.5%)

      You can find the report at:

      Your 6 million non-denominational belivers (1.9% of Americans) easily fit inside the 3.5% of religious, 'unaffilliated' Americans.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  17. hippypoet

    faith in god...meaningless if you don't believe but more importantly, delusional!
    why is having faith worn like a badge of honor and its measured by the amount of devotion you have for whatever you have faith in or for? faith is belief in something illogical, illrational, and not probable like it is GOING to happen or is real beyond a shadow of a doubt....how is that healthy? how is that something worth teaching – FROM BIRTH – thats brainwashing by the simpliest standards – how is this a good thing?

    you'd think if god was truly the god spoken of then faith would be unneeded and belief a thing of the past – yet – people will believe whatever they wish no matter the proof or lack there of and its truly sad to consider that this delusion type mass brainwashing is going on right now and has been for over 2000 years...please don't let the time in which this sm.ut has been around make you think its worth its wieght in salt – i bid Lot's wife its not – in ALL early man stories from around the globe people have created GRAND stories about the start and end of times – its that simple. its a story that has been with us since we started talking and asking questions...however, the time has come since we can now answer many of the very same questions that required a god in the past with science, a bigger question arises...are people truly this willing and wanting to replace reality proven by testible science with a fantasy? wt.f is wrong with people? faith – a mental handycap.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      Groovin' in the brainin'. Exact same post on another story. Agenda time?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • notraitors

      Are all secularists like you? Unable to spell?

      October 18, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Are all secularists like you? Unable to spell?"""

      Know.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  18. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    sorry Human, I am possessed by too many devils, one forces me to curse Hindus Jews Christians, other makes me to curse my own father, mothers, and my Haramee brothers, and dancing sisters. I need help.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  19. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Bottom line: Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? After all, Obama also believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections and atonement mumbo jumbo.

    One should be voting based on rational thinking. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      '..........historically flawed Christianity......' Antichrists are PC approved. Hooway for Athena with her Greek s e x and educratist followers. Got enough money for her divinity?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:14 am |
  20. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Benjamin Franklin
    [1706-1790] American public official, writer, scientist, and printer who played a major part in the American Revolution.

    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758

    "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."

    "He (the Rev. Mr. Whitefield) used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard." Franklin's Autobiography

    "In the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the want of it."

    Some volumes against Deism fell into my hands. They were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lecture. It happened that they produced on me an effect precisely the reverse of what was intended by the writers; for the arguments of the Deists, which were cited in order to be refuted, appealed to me much more forcibly than the refutation itself. In a word, I soon became a thorough Deist

    "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies."

    October 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Margaret

      Great name Fluffy.

      I still say they can pray to the great tree God if it makes them happy, just keep it out of my government, and I will pray or not the way I want.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • notraitors

      I trust you won't be celebrating Thanksgiving, since the 1st president, George Washington, wrote in his proclamation establishing the holiday that it was to be a day of remembrance for God's blessings upon the new nation. But I'm sure you'll ignore that and stuff your face anyway

      October 18, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • notraitors

      Yeah, Marge, I feel the same way about Planned Parenthood receiving taxpayer funding. Those who want to donate are free to do so but keep your progressive utopia away from my wallet

      October 18, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Quite obviously you-notraitors-do not give a damn about women!!! Planned Parenthood not only helps ensure birth control and condoms are available but educates young people on how to protect themselves; offers breast screening (thus helping to prevent breast cancer); offers STD education; offers relationship advice and counseling. It is people like you and the ignorant rantings that are the reason the USA has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the modern world.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Madtown

      keep your progressive utopia away from my wallet
      -----
      health = a "progressive utopia"?!? LOL!!! Fools are so funny.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:03 am |
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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.