Christian’s year of living 'gay' leads to dramatic change, sparks controversy
December 2nd, 2012
06:45 AM ET

Christian’s year of living 'gay' leads to dramatic change, sparks controversy

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – Timothy Kurek’s motivation to spend a year pretending to be gay can be boiled down to a simple conviction: it takes drastic change to alter deeply held religious beliefs.

The experiment began after a lesbian friend opened up to Kurek about being excommunicated by her family. All Kurek, an avowed evangelical Christian, could think about, he says, “was trying to convert her.”

He was quickly disgusted by his own feelings, more pious than humane.

In fact, Kurek was so disgusted by his response to his friend that he decided to do something drastic. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, he would pretend to be gay for a year. The experiment began on the first day of 2009; Kurek came out to his family, got a job as a barista at a gay café and enlisted the help of a friend to act as his boyfriend in public.

The experience – which stopped short of Kurek getting physically intimate with other men - is documented in Kurek’s recent book “The Cross in the Closet,” which has received international attention, landed him on ABC’s "The View" and elicited some biting criticism.

The book is the latest entry on a growing list of experiential tomes revolving around religion. They include Rachel Held Evans’ recent “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” in which the author follows the Bible’s instructions on women’s behavior and Ed Dobson’s “The Year of Living Like Jesus,” which had the author “eat as Jesus ate. Pray as Jesus prayed. Observe the Sabbath as Jesus observed.”

For Kurek, his year as a gay man radically changed his view of faith and religion, while also teaching him “what it meant to be a second class citizen in this country.”

A yearlong lie

For years, Kurek says, the only life he had was “his church life.” Being an evangelical Christian was his identity.

He was home-schooled until seventh grade, almost all of his friends were from church and his social life was a nightly string of faith-based events, from church sports to a Christian Cub Scout troop. “It was the only thing I was used to doing,” said Kurek, who attended Liberty University, the largest evangelical university in the world, before dropping out after freshman year.

Kurek grew up in an “independent Baptist church.” “We were evangelical,” he said, “but we were more conservative than evangelical, too.”

His churchy lifestyle led to some deeply held views about homosexuality. Most evangelical churches condemn homosexuality as sinful. Many rail against certain gay rights, like gay marriage.

“I had been taught to be wary of gays,” Kurek writes of his beliefs pre-experiment. “They were all HIV positive, perverts and liberal pedophiles.”

Those views began to be challenged in 2004, when he first encountered Soulforce, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, on Liberty’s campus. The group made the school an important stop on its cross-country tour targeting colleges that they alleged treated LGBT people unfairly.

Kurek was struck by what he had in common with the protesters at Liberty. “It really impressed me that people who were coming to push their agenda were able to do it and be so nice about it,” he said.

His doubt about Christianity’s condemnation of homosexuality, Kurek writes, was “perfected” in 2008, when a close friend recounted the story of coming out to her family and being disowned.

“I betrayed her, then,” writes Kurek. “It was a subtle betrayal, but a cruel one: I was silent.”

His recognition of that betrayal, he writes, led him to believe that “I needed to come out of the closet as a gay man.”

“I believe in total immersion,” Kurek says in an interview. “If you are going to walk in other people’s shoes, then you are going to need to walk in your shoes.”

To ensure the purity of his project, Kurek says, he had to lie to his deeply religious family about being gay, something that troubled him throughout the year.

“I felt like they loved me but they didn’t know how to deal with me,” he says. “They didn’t understand how to handle having a gay brother or sibling.”

In the book, Kurek recounts learning that his mother wrote in her journal that she would rather have been diagnosed with cancer than have a gay son. That experience and others left Kurek feeling outcast by people he loved, confused about his new life and conflicted about past religious beliefs.

Kurek was living a lie. And even though he was conflicted by his family’s reaction to his new lifestyle, he was longing to be honest with them.

The response

It’s no surprise that the “The Cross in the Closet,” has spurred strong reaction, especially from the LGBT community.

“I feel for the gay community of Nashville, and for every person who trusted Kurek enough to flirt with him, hang out with him, and confide in him about their lives,” wrote Amy Lieberman on the blog Feministing. “If I were in that community, I would feel so betrayed right now.”

In a Huffington Post blog post titled “Pretending To Be Gay Isn’t The Answer,” Emily Timbol, a religion blogger, expressed a similar opinion: “What's sad is that every interaction Timothy had during his year pretending was fake.”

“He was welcomed under false pretenses, acting like someone who understood the struggle that his LGBT friends faced,” she wrote. “He did not.”

But Kurek says that that was not his aim. “This isn't a book about being gay, I could not write that book, I am not qualified,” he writes. “What this is about is the label of gay and how that label affected me personally.”

Throughout the book, Kurek emphasizes that distinction. While much of “The Cross in the Closet” is about the struggle to understand the gay community, which he tries to address by enlisting a friend to act as his boyfriend, much of it addresses how his former church’s community – and family – reacted to his new lifestyle.

“I am actually not friends or in contact at all with 99.99% of the people that I grew up with or the churches that I grew up with,” Kurek says.

Kurek says he isn’t opposed to interacting with people from his "former" life. When he has run into members of his old church, he said he generally has quick, cordial conversations and moves on.

But some of the new distance is by choice. When Kurek’s mother told a friend in her church that her son was gay, the person said Kurek’s sexuality could jeopardize his mother's standing in the church.

The evangelical community has remained fairly mum throughout much of the reaction; most responses have come from Christians who are in some way connected to the LGBT community.

The change

Though Kurek goes to church less now, primarily because he has yet to find one that feels like “home,” he says he feels more religious “in the biblical definition of religion.” He still considers himself a Christian, although no longer evangelical, and says he is interested in attending the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the future.

Kurek quotes James 1:27 from the New Testament: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

There’s no mention of organized religion in passages like that, and Kurek says it’s the institutions of religion that worry him most today. He talks about his once robust church life as a distant memory.

Living as a gay man jaded him to religion, he says, though he has not surrendered all of his former beliefs. Yes, Kurek says, he is struggling with certain points of his theology, but he has been looking for the right church. “I am trying to figure out what place in the body of Christ I fit in,” he said.

As for his original goal, to radically change who he was, Kurek says mission accomplished. He says he has conquered his prejudices of the LGBT community and is happy with the person he has become.

“If anybody had told me back then who I would be or what I would believe now,” Kurek said, “I would have thought they were completely insane.”

For example, Kurek now thinks homosexuality is completely acceptable.

His family is happy to know that he is not gay, says Kurek. He has a new set of friends. And he lives in Portland, Oregon, where he moved shortly after finishing his experimental year.

The author plans to donate part of the proceeds from his book to help LGBT homeless youth who have been rejected by their families.

He is now at work on a book proposal for a follow-up to “The Cross in the Closet.” The book will be about the years after his experiment, transitioning back to honest living while continuing to engage the LGBT community.

“I want to tell more stories,” he says “and humanize the people who Christians always want to look at as labels.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Faith • Homosexuality • Sexuality • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,659 Responses)
  1. get real

    But these same libs LOVED the book "Black Like Me" written by a man who went as african in costume to understand the "black" experience! He lied to, no? There is consistancy with libs.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • ohreally

      And that's what you got from this article?

      December 2, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Ranger X

      There's certainly no consistency with your spelling either.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Andrew

      The "lib" bloggers that are referred to in this story aren't LIBERAL, the are CONSERVATIVE...look them up before you make a complete A** out of yourself....wait...too late.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Bruce

      This is more of a sociological study than a truly spiritual one. The premise of this story appears innocent enough, but in reality is intended to comprehend the biases and prejudices felt by the gay community and not the deeper realities of truly being gay. This is germane to a proper analysis of this effort. This is NOT a spiritual accomplishment. If that were the case, Timothy would have led these people to Jesus Christ which , if he were a true believer is his real responsibility. Had Timothy went 'underground' in attempt to evangelize this margenilized sector of society, that would make for a far more interesting and 'honest' read. In conclusion, our cultural fascination for the taboo has produced yet another attempt for someone to become a "reality show" kind of star.

      December 2, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  2. live4grace

    As a Christian I applaud Kurek's work. Anything to undo the hatred, tear down the walls and empathize with others is of Christ. The reaction of the gay community is predictable; they will feel betrayed .. the guy lied. I don't know that he had to do that. I had gay roommates in college and knew the entire community through that. So "total immersion" – well, I guess I'd say if you don't lie about who you are that's ok.

    Parts of the church will react like the confused tribe the American evangelical church has turned into. Parts will start to love gay people. It's the best you can expect. Good job.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Bob

      "Gays should be quartered with their own kind."

      Prejudice people are so immature.

      December 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Zatknis

      Incredible jowl. Just remmber, in fifty years we will be looking back at people like you the way we look back at racist KKK people of the sixties.

      December 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Noah


      I look down on people like Jowl the same way we look down on the KKK right now, I don't need to wait 50 years to know people like him are trash.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  3. JoeMa

    He's a liar thats it... pretend, lie, deceit. He pretend to be religious, He pretend to be gay, He pretend then lie and lie. He's totally different. He's a chronic liar.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Frank Tsudo

      I agree. He's going to "pretend" to be gay. He's gay.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Marc

      He's gay. He wasn't pretending. He was testing the water while leaving himself an "out" if he ever decided to go back to his closet evangelism.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • shoos

      Agreed Frank. He didn't need to do this, he wanted to do this. He's gay.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Jim5k

      Guess it's easier to call him a liar if it doesn't fit your beliefs. Maybe he really is simply trying to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before judging them. But feel free to continue to judge and hate. It's what I expect from religion.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Andrew

      Wow, you guys have COMPLETELY missed the point of the entire story. I PRETENDED to be straight for 18 years...that doesn't make me straight...sheesh

      December 2, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Kevin

      I'm a straight guy, and I say, "Rock it, Andrew. Don't pretend anymore. The world is changing and the anti-gay dinosaurs will be extinct in a few years."

      December 2, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Stan

      Exactly. It looks like he "suffered' a lot during that year and didn't enjoy "a bit".

      December 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • pburnham93

      Joema, i think you have missed the point. He had to live in a lie... that was the entire point.. he was to live in the closet as a straight man. Every day there are gay people all around the world you live in the closet and in a life of lies because they do not fell accepted, they do not feel strong enough to come out to a society that most of the time condemns them for who they are.
      This man had to live in a lie because he need to understand. No he cannot and will not ever know what it is like to be gay but he now knows how dishonesty, like living in the closet, can truly hurt you and the people in your life.

      Read the book and you might think before you ASSume

      December 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  4. USA


    December 2, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  5. From a Strong Christian

    My whole input on the gay thing is simple..
    Don't hate someone because they sin differently than you.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Ranger X

      Hogwash. The concept of sin is the most odious folly hoisted upon mankind. It's called being human. Accept it or face mental illness.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  6. Joseph Mitchell

    Is this guy serious? So you come out the closet and then a year later decide to go back in.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  7. AriLabo

    10 yrs from now this guy is going to come out as gay – – – – but no one will believe him.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • shoos


      December 2, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  8. Brian Monkman

    This reminds me very much of a book I read when I was young – Black Like Me. That book opened my eyes. Hopefully this book will accomplish the same thing. I have not (yet) read this book so I cannot make an informed comment on it. However, I applaud the reason behind it.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Informed Voter

      Yes, it's a very similar journalistic device that was used in Black Like Me: pretend to be part of the group you're investigating, and see it from the inside. I don't see how this is "lying"; it's done all the time.

      I'm interested in reading this book and seeing what events caused this sea change in Mr. Kurek's viewpoint. What a fascinating idea.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Ralph

      I was immediately drawn to the same conclusion; Kurek is correct in that one cannot really understand what it is to be someone, unless one walks a mile in someone else's shoes. Whether it be a difference in racial, gender, ethnic or cultural class, public or even private interaction with one's self becomes unfiltered in a way that is at once, both educational and frightening in its honesty. I'm not entirely convinced by his stated motivations, but I'm nonetheless impressed by his results; that he can examine his own prejudices enough to change his views.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • pburnham93

      Now I have read the book and I enjoyed it very much... regardless of his motivations, he portrays and tells of morals and ethics that we all should live with. It has strengthened my faith and it has rerooted my morals of equality. It is worth the read

      December 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  9. Colin Morgan

    So many directions to go with this article, I'm not sure which one to choose. I'm the 26 year old son of a lesbian couple who have been partnered 31 years now. To say I've grown up in the gay community is an understatement. So, while I understand what Mr. Kurek may have been trying to do here, lying to an entire community about who you are is not the way to go about it.

    There are several problems with his alleged "ground breaking" experiment. The main one being that he's simply not gay and could walk away from it at any time. Gay people do not choose to be gay. They cannot just wake up one morning and go "Experiment over! I'm straight now." For that reason alone he will never understand what being gay really feels like.

    The second being even more obvious – he spent a year lying to people about who he really is; a straight man. I'm not sure how old he is, but he appears to be in his late 20's or so. He spent this "Year of the Gay" concerned and paranoid that someone would find out he wasn't gay. THAT is something that gay people deal with for decades, lying about who they are and hoping others won't find out.

    As much as I might ever try to understand someone being gay having grown up so much around it, I will never truly know on a personal level what they deal with. Kurek may have been well-intentioned but he needs to start apologizing to those in the gay community who trusted him as well as family members and friends who he lied to and making any profit from all those lies seems highly disingenuous.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Jay

      The point wasn't to see what it was like to be gay. The point was to see how gay people are treated by others. In that, he was quite successful.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Colin Morgan

      Sure Jay, "How gay people are treated by others". Well, Timothy Kurek treats them as an experiment to be exploited for personal gain. If the book sells, then yes I suppose he was successful in some way.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • kentuckyfamily..com

      If one does not choose to be gay, then are they really in love with their partner?

      December 2, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Jonathan Galante

      I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said Colin.

      December 2, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • pburnham93

      Collin, I understand where you are coming from. He can by no means understand what it is truly like to be gay. And I do believe he should apologize to some extant. In the book he apologizes to his gay friend who he lied to through his year long immersion. And they were OK with it... in fact they embraced it. Now if we went on your logic I want every single Gay person who has lived in the closet to apologize for lying to us about who they are. With that said, He had to lie. That was the point. If you read the book you would understand that. Him lying to the gay community about being a straight man in the closet was a necessity to understand how degrading the closet is to gay people who live in them for years because of social pressures.

      I am not saying this to be offensive, i just want you to read the book before you make assumptions about his motives or reasons for acting the way he did... please keep an open mind... thats all he wants.

      December 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    December 2, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Jim5k

      Yes. It makes you more judgmental and less tolerant of other beliefs.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Fairy Tails

      That is true. Rarely for the better I must add.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian

      December 2, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • 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.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • RulingClass

      Prayer is talking to yourself

      December 2, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • black like me

      what is prayer? Isn't that asking god to change her mind?

      December 2, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • MikeO

      Agreed. Prayer does change everything. But it's like the Bible says, people who are full of themselves will never believe in God, and will even try to torment believers. The more I read of the Bible, the more truth I find.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Lenthe

      Children are born atheists ....

      December 3, 2012 at 5:20 am |
    • John Stone

      "Prayer changes things" ...yea it gets ya a better class of medication !!! Kepp listening to the voices 🙂

      December 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      (1) Hallucinations – the person has invisible friends who (s)he insists are real, and to whom (s)he speaks daily, even though nobody can actually see or hear
      these friends.

      (2) Delusions – the patient believes that the invisible friends have magical powers to make them rich, cure cancer, bring about world peace, and will do so eventually if asked.

      (3) Denial/Inability to learn – though the requests for world peace remain unanswered, even after hundreds of years, the patients persist with the praying behaviour, each time expecting different results.

      (4) Inability to distinguish fantasy from reality – the beliefs are contingent upon ancient mythology being accepted as historical fact.

      (5) Paranoia – the belief that anyone who does not share their supernatural concept of reality is "evil," "the devil," "an agent of Satan".

      December 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  11. adamscooking

    Whether his motives were genuine, and not just to make money selling a book, I commend him for doing this. (Presuming he's really not gay!) I just hope his experiment introduced him to some everyday, regular gay and lesbian men and women, and not just the "bar crowd" and drag queens. What bothers me is why does the media always portray gay or lesbian people in photos or on tv as the stereotypical flamers, "queeny" party boys or butch lesbians. Most gay people I know, and I've been out since 1982, are everyday, normal looking men and women. My partner and I have been together for over 18 years. We haven't been to a "gay bar" since probably 1999. We don't fly the gay flag, nor parade around in clothes like the people in these pictures. We are just as straight looking/acting as our neighbors with 3 kids. In face, the majority of our friends are straight couples.

    CNN, please stop portraying gay people with just one slice of the community.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • saggyroy

      "Whether his motives were genuine, and not just to make money selling a book" – Since when would christians do that?

      "What bothers me is why does the media always portray gay or lesbian people in photos or on tv as the stereotypical flamers, "queeny" party boys or butch lesbians." – I lived in northern CA in the 80's – 90's and the gays seemed to like to show off that way, especially for the tourists. Was there again in 2012, and it was not like that at all.

      "Most gay people I know, and I've been out since 1982, are everyday, normal looking men and women. My partner and I have been together for over 18 years. We haven't been to a "gay bar" since probably 1999." – I know professional gay people just as you are describing. You must be older and more mature.

      "We don't fly the gay flag, nor parade around in clothes like the people in these pictures. We are just as straight looking/acting as our neighbors with 3 kids. In face, the majority of our friends are straight couples." – Do you think these people have other issues?

      "CNN, please stop portraying gay people with just one slice of the community." – Like they do atheists.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  12. Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

    It sounds as though he was clearly conflicted by his evangelical upbringing regarding the LGBT community versus the reality of his friend who came out. This was his attempt to reconcile that conflict. Would everyone agree with his method? No. Do people question his motives? Sure. But, the bottom line is that, in the face of religious indoctrination and brainwashing since he was an infant, he had the strength to (a) actually question his religious beliefs and (b) actually take concrete steps to learn to think for himself.

    In my opinion, the guy's got balls.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • MikeO

      You are not so stupid as to believe all religions believe the same things do you? I mean, after all, evolutionists believe a big rock existed from all time, exploded from who knows what, formed perfectly round space items which to this day move in such synchronization that the atomic clock is set by their movements, and that all life came from ooze and got better and better, creating all life. Despite the fact that science says everything in existence decays and breaks down with age and NONE of the billions of missing links have ever been found. And you mock someone's else's belief? You ignorant bigot, you.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  13. Katie

    This sort of social experiment has been done before. Anyone read Black Like Me? I'm glad this guy had the guts to face the hate from his own community, as well as the prejudices and distancing from his family. But why does it take such drastic measures for one to open his eyes and his mind? And how does he earn anyone's trust back?

    December 2, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • InMyHappyPlace

      Whose trust does he have to earn back? The people that still won't change their perspective and shunned him for being gay? The friends he made while in the gay community who he now supports? I don't see him needing to regain the trust of anyone. I see him now having to find the right friends for how he feels and move on with life. His mother should be ashamed of herself for how she felt about him when he came out. Maybe it is her that needs to regain his trust.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  14. anothermeme

    As a devout atheist I stand shoulder to shoulder with any person of any faith that rises above bigotry. I can understand the betrayal felt by the LGBT community but the biggest threat to their freedoms and their right to live the lives they want to live – resides squarely, unarguably with the conservative evangelical community. This threat does not always come directly from these religious conservatives but the threat will however ALWAYS by founded on and supported by the ideas that these extreme faith communities support.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • MikeO

      Why would a person of faith stand with you when the Bible calls you a fool? I don't stand with fools.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  15. Bill

    As an educator, Christian, and being gay, I find the study interesting. I can understand the gay community feeling like being used,but his study does shed light on the struggles of the gay community and especially on being judged by some Christian communities. The gay struggle goes on an entire lifetime and no one outside can fully understand the predjuces and pain experienced over time. My parnter and myself found an church home that welcomes all...literally. I would like to read Kurek's book before I pass judgement on his study.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • kbgirl1144

      You, sir, are about the only person on this entire comment blog who has any qualification to reply at all. I'd be interested in hearing your feedback, indeed. 🙂

      December 2, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  16. tomnikoly

    Now he should try living like an atheist for a year, gain some knowledge, and ultimately shun religion as nothing but myth. Now THAT would be worthwhile. He's shed the intolerance, now he should gain critical thinking and logic.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • saggyroy


      December 2, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Jim5k

      Great idea! Most Christians misjudge atheists too. They see them as evil when we simply haven't found enough evidence (and/or don't trust the word of man) to believe. It blows their mind when atheists do good things.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • diana


      December 2, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • FQI

      When I read comments such as these from atheists, I am prompted to speak up on behalf of liberal, tolerant, pro-science people of faith. (Yes, we do still exist.) My parents were liberal Catholics who believed that social justice was a part of their faith and told us stories about anti-war priests and the Catholic Worker movement. I eventually did leave the Catholic church, went through the typical period of spiritual searching in early adulthood, and ended up a secular humanist for several years. But I eventually found my way to the Episcopal Church, where I feel that my pro-gay rights, pro-science, and pro-social justice views are affirmed.
      I am in my mid-30s, and I live in a large, northern, post-industrial city. I have a PhD, and most of my friends also hold post-graduate degrees. Unsurprisingly, given the demographic data, most of my friends are secularists of one sort or another, ranging from militant atheists to disinterested agnostics. I do not judge them, attempt to convert them, or discuss religion with them at all. Most of them don't even realize that I have returned to the Church. Given my background and social milieu, it would probably be far easier to be an atheist. In many ways, it was, and not just sociologically.
      I come from a religious tradition that values reason, that affirms scientific discoveries, and that does not interpret scripture literally. We do not shy away from asking big questions, and we do not expect facile answers. Both radical atheism and religious fundamentalism strike me as arrogant and simplistic. As finite beings in an infinite universe, we cannot pretend to fully understand the world around us. All that we can truly do is attempt to find the best fit for our spiritual needs.
      When I was younger, I was immersed in existentialist and post-structuralist philosophy. I read Camus, Sartre, and Nietzsche, and later Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, and Bergson. I still think that these thinkers – most of them atheists – brilliantly articulate the problem of being human in the modern era. In many ways, I identify much more strongly with the manner in which they describe the human condition than I do with anything in the scriptures. But what I missed was the connection with something greater than myself.
      Yes, all sorts of atrocities have been committed and continue to be committed in the name of Christ and the church. Christians need to do a much better job of denouncing those things. But there is much of beauty and value in 2000 years of Christian tradition, and those of us who are not evangelicals, fundamentalists, or outright fanatics (in other words, those who until recently represented the mainstream of Christianity – and, arguably, western culture in general) need to do a better job of defending it.
      Lastly, I have always found it personally offensive when it is stated that atheists have a monopoly on reason or critical thinking. Indeed, if you remember your history, it was through the scholastic theologians that logic was re-introduced into the west. Many people of faith do not believe in young-earth creationism, and many of us do accept the scientific consensus on climate change. I personally do not think that the existence of non-existence of a supreme being can be proven rationally. One could perhaps argue that evolution disproves the existence of an angry, tribal sky deity, but that is not the deity in which I believe.
      Lastly, someone else took issue with the concept of sin, and stated something to the effect of imperfection simply being the nature of being human. I'm no theologian, but I could not agree more, and I don't think any serious theologian would. When you strip away the story about the apple, original sin simply becomes another way of understanding that all of us mess up. It's human nature, but it's caused untold destruction in the world around us. "Overcoming sin" should just be understood as trying to be a better, more caring person, and taking responsibility for harmful, past actions.

      December 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @FQI, Agreed. I don't believe in a god, butI believe there are god-beliefs (by no means all god-beliefs) that can be every bit as consistent with reason and tolerance as my own. I think those who are aggressive towards all religion are mostly young and have yet to be exposed to the more complex ideas you're talking about.

      December 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • MikeO

      God's Word says atheist are fools, full of themselves. I believe it.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  17. Tippers

    I don't know what we are supposed to take away from this. The knee-jerk Christian reaction is expected, but the gay response calling him a faker, and calling his interactions with other gay people lies and how he still doesn't understand the struggle of lgbt people... I don't see what that accomplishes. If he acted the part well enough to try and come to an understanding, what's to be so miffed about?

    December 2, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Ian

      Come on its not hard. If someone gains your trust and friendship, and you find out they were lying to you for a year, you're going to feel betrayed and manipulated. His personal breakthrough about gay people came at the cost of having to lie to them.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • fiveliters

      @Ian-Isn't that basically what a lot of gay people who aren't out do every day,act like they're straight to straight people?
      You know...to keep a job,or not get assaulted,or otherwise discriminated against because of someone else's beliefs?
      I guess you'd lose it if a gay person comes out to you,like "OMG,you acted...-straight- to me! How dare you live a lie that society forced you to? The horrors!" (sarcasm off)

      I think he accomplished what he set out to do,and I don't think he 'betrayed' anyone. Job well done,sir.

      December 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  18. trex

    ........If you believe GOD made you and me......................then he ALSO made these LGBT's.............Dont judge others, that happens to be GOD's job.......................unless YOU know MORE than GOD.......................

    December 2, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Frank Tsudo

      He also made murderers, but don't judge them, that's God's job, right?

      December 2, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Crystal m.


      December 2, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Jim5k

      Technically, "sins" (even murder) are supposed to be judged by God, not people. It's crimes people get to judge. Murder can harm you. Gay can't.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Crystal m.

      Sorry, I'm new to posting! My response of AMEN was to TREX! Nobody else. You said it all TREX!

      December 2, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • I know I know

      Frank Tsudo, but just like being gay the world has condemned murder as a bad thing, way back when murder was just another aspect of life

      December 2, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Jim5k

      P.S. If you believe a murder will get his just punishment after death, then why bother punishing them here on earth?

      December 2, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Jim5k

      The world has not condemned gay. Only intolerant, biased, pious people have.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  19. Jowl

    I bet he tells people he isn't actually fat, he's just writing a book about gluttony & has to overeat for inspiration.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Uncle Stumpy

      Dude, shut up, you're blowin' my cover here...

      December 2, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  20. Garbage

    The whole things sounds like garbage. Live like a gay, Live like a biblical woman, live like Jesus did? Yeah right. It appeals to 5 year old logic. If someone is selling something in the name of religion, get the hell away fast as you can. I am not anti-gay. I am anti morons writing books on subjects they understand like a 5 yr old. If you get your gay thoughts from this, you probably get your politics from Ann Coulter, Your relationship advice from Steve Harvey, and your life experience advice from Snooki. People, please stop buying these stupid books!

    December 2, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • I'm Garbage

      Steve Harvey gives relationship advice? Where is his book?!! I must buy!!!

      December 2, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • shoos


      December 2, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Uncle Stumpy

      Fine, but you've got to remember: the US is crawling with people who claim to be "living biblically" or "living as Christ lived," or constantly asking "What Would Jesus Do?" (TM). These writers are trying to demonstrate what the actual implications of those claims are (and point out how ludicrous they are). You wanna do what Jesus would do? Sell your car and donate your shoes, 'cause it's donkey-n-sandals for you, pal. And get used to eating fish. Tons and tons of fish, and not the battered kind you get from LJS, either.

      In other words, living in strict accordance to what's in the Bible is goofy, and any American who claims to do so that still owns a car, has only one wife, sleeps inside her house during her monthly cycle, consumes bacon, and doesn't stone people to death is full of it.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:36 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.