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'None' leaders to chart path for more political, cultural power for religiously unaffiliated
The Reason Rally -- sponsored by secular organizations -- draws a crowd to Washington in June.
January 25th, 2013
08:51 AM ET

'None' leaders to chart path for more political, cultural power for religiously unaffiliated

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) - The religiously unaffiliated - the "nones"  - have noticed their ranks are growing. And at a meeting Saturday, a group of leaders will look to turn those swelling numbers into workable political and cultural power.

It's one of the top priorities of the eighth annual Heads Meeting, which will be held in Atlanta. Some of the nation’s most influential leaders, representing various organizations, will convene to chart a path forward and discuss the most important issues facing "nones" today.

“It is not enough that we are growing in numbers,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “We have got to find a way to bring those numbers to bear in an organized fashion so that people will take us seriously.”

A number of studies have found that religious “nones” - people who either don’t believe in God or do not affiliate with a religion - are increasing rapidly in the United States. A 2012 Pew study, for example, found this faction to be the fastest-growing "religious" group in America and determined that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.

These numbers have emboldened atheists, humanists, agnostics and other secular Americans, many of whom have long expressed a desire for more political power.

In particular, they point to the fact that they are widely underrepresented in the halls of the highest U.S. legislative body. Though 20% of the population classifies themselves as “none,” according to Pew, only one member of Congress, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, identifies as such.

Speckhardt said it’ll take presenting “viewpoints in an organized way” to see change.

Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief and one of the Atlanta meeting's hosts, said building awareness through community engagement will be a key topic of discussion.

“Part of it is trying to consolidate that cultural presence,” McGowan said. “That has something to do with politics, but it is also more generally cultural.”

Much as churches and synagogues foster and nurture communities, McGowan said he thinks atheists can do the same to gain clout and broader acceptance.

But the meeting is more than just a forum for "none" leaders to outline their plans going forward. It is also a way for these leaders to meet face to face and discuss differences that they may have with one another.

According to McGowan, finding ways to work together was the original goal when the meeting was first held in 2005.

For years, McGowan said, “These groups operated separately from each other and sometimes at odds with each other. There was a realization that we should meet once a year and come together on the goals that we have in common.”

Other leaders echoed this viewpoint.

“One of the biggest benefits of these meetings is that it is human interaction,” Speckhardt said. “You get people face to face, and you dispel these negative ideas. You realize that we are all endeavoring toward very similar goals and that we can cooperate to make them happen.”

But while the leaders stress the need for cohesion, they also have long highlighted, even celebrated, diversity of opinion in their movement. This diversity has, at times, caused friction.

For example, the Christmas season revealed a growing rift among American atheists. Some activists want to seize the holidays to build bridges with faith groups, while other active unbelievers increasingly see Christmas as central to confronting religion.

“We certainly do disagree,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. “But we are on the same side. What we have to do is sit down at the table and say, ‘You are going to do your thing, and I am going to do my thing.’ ”

McGowan called cohesiveness “really the central challenge” for people who thrive on independence. “This is a group of people accustomed to taking a critical approach to things, and that means not just letting differences slide and saying, ‘Hey, these differences matter.’ ”

Other attendees in Atlanta will include Ron Lindsay, president of the Center for Inquiry, and Margaret Downey, founder and president of the Freethought Society, according to Silverman.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

soundoff (1,751 Responses)
  1. Thomas Paine

    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:11 am |
  2. John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:10 am |
  3. Ben Franklin

    Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of the sermons which had been preached at Boyle’s Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them. For the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to be much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:09 am |
  4. Thomas Jefferson

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  5. Thomas Jefferson

    The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  6. Thomas Jefferson

    But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  7. Thomas Jefferson

    [If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  8. Thomas Jefferson

    I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this [i.e., the purchase of an apparent geological or astronomical work] can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If [this] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:04 am |
  9. Thomas Jefferson

    Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science.

    January 27, 2013 at 1:03 am |
  10. SoldierOfConscience

    I'll use a made up dialogue to convey the shortcomings of atheist here

    Atheist (A): God doesnt exist, science (medicine) has all the answers
    Religious Person (P) : If thats the case, where is the Theory of cancer, i.e. science can look at a cancer patient's face and tell "this is what is happening to you. YOU will be cured on April 30, 2014 at 10 AM"
    A: What a crock. we cant do that for any disease
    R: Aha. so science does not have all the answers. For some, only God has the answers
    A : THere is no God
    R: If you replace God with your science, then shouldnt science also be all knowing and be able to predict anything? i.e. a "theory of everything"
    A: er. ah. um.

    January 27, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      A er um... Must I be the one to tell you that no one and nothing is all knowing and able to predict everything?

      January 27, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Akira

      How patently absurd. This isn't clever to anyone except yourself.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • Bet

      Oh, please. This had to sound ridiculous even in your head.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • tod

      People claim that God is all-knowing, but that hasn't been demonstrated. Science doesn't claim to know all the answers. Science will openly admit when it does not have the answer, but religion will simply make up an answer and sell it to gullible people.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • TANK!!!!

      How long have you been hearing these dialogues in your head? Did the beginning of the dialogue-hearing coincide with any spike in religiousity? Or have you always been a kook who just hears voices?

      January 27, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You have to create your own argument with a made up adversary because you can't handle the real thing, you are literally mentally master.bating. I must feel really good.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Saraswati

      No one is trying to replace the Christian god with a science god...that would still be just another god. The problem is that your god has never made accurate predictions ( or any confirmed predictions at all) about what day a cancer patient will be cured from a disease. So even your own story doesn't make sense. 1) no one is making these claims for science and 2) God doesn't do these things either.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Sarasvati, there are no "scientifically testable predictions" thats because each person's connection to God is personal. He is all powerful but chooses not to divulge everything to everyone. If you are replacing him with "science" you are playing God. Then you must be as powerful as God. which you are not. Thats the point I was trying to make.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Chardism Sniffer

      "If you are replacing him with "science" you are playing God. "

      (Chardism only dumber)

      January 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  11. SoldierOfConscience

    Atheist bringing immorality into our country and causing its downfall

    January 26, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It is unconscionable for anyone to bring about the downfall of immorality. I resemble that remark, sir! Take it back or I'll call you a cad.

      January 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Religion has far more immorality than atheists could ever muster.

      January 26, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Athy

      Can't we cause the downfall of immorality without bringing it into this country?

      January 26, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Dont jest. This is a serious matter.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • Akira

      Do you honestly think that atheists invented immorality?
      Seriously?

      January 27, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      No atheists didn't invent it. But they refine it and whiff it up their nostrils or else take it as a suppository.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:18 am |
    • Athy

      Give us some specific examples, Soldier.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Immorality as a suppository

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLfKlZUtzSo&w=420&h=315]

      January 27, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Specific examples :-

      1. Breaking up family (kid needs mom AND dad and gets different values from both). bring back no fault divorce
      2. Allowing unborn children to be killed
      3. Redefining marriage to allow devaint relationships, like same s3x. Next we will get p3doph1le, b3st1al, polygamist, whatever
      4. Coddling bad habits and dependencies by supporting big government

      January 27, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Damocles

      @SOC

      1) What if one of the parents values have no value? A parent who beats a child or the spouse is useless.
      2) While I am all for kids being in a loving family and most definitely think adoption should be brought up, it is better for abortion to be done by a legit doctor and be legal as opposed to illegal and being done by back alley quacks.
      3) This is an utterly ridiculous argument and really should be stopped. Gay marriage is between two consenting adults, not a kid and an adult, not an animal and an adult. The fact that you seem to equate them speaks volumes.
      4) Being able to find someone to fall in love with and want to marry is hardly a bad habit. Being able to divorce to escape a bad marriage is not a bad habit.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      SoldierOfNonsense,

      None of those example are specific to atheists.

      SoldierofNonsense is a Liar for Jesus.

      January 27, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • sam stone

      Still blathering like a mouthy little b1tch, eh S(ame) O(ld) C(vcksucker)?

      January 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Ok I have another less controversial example. If you plot a graph of church attendance on x axis against number of school/etc/ shooting deaths in y axis you will see that as people get less religious, they shoot more. The number of guns has stayed more or less the same. Its the values that are changing. It becomes OK to even THINK of doing a mass shooting. not the case even 20 years ago.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • not that simple

      That's already been debunked when you factor in change in population. Others posted other factors, but the fact remains that if a child is not getting good guidance at home and places where the parents take the child, then changes to public school system are moot. Plus, what kind of change would you suggest?

      January 27, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Damocles,

      1) What if one of the parents values have no value?

      >> EDGE CASE. I can find similar edge cases elsewhere, e.g. In a survey of p3d0ph1les, a number of them self-identified as g@y

      January 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Damocles,

      2) While I am all for kids being in a loving family and most definitely think adoption should be brought up, it is better for abortion to be done by a legit doctor and be legal as opposed to illegal and being done by back alley quacks.

      >> This logic is similar to the following – We should provide trained exe-cutioners to dru-g gangs, so they can shoot just the rival gang not by standers. Im afraid a life is a life is a life.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Damocles,

      3) This is an utterly ridiculous argument and really should be stopped. Gay marriage is between two consenting adults, not a kid and an adult, not an animal and an adult. The fact that you seem to equate them speaks volumes.

      >> Look up "B 4 you act". It is a group that is trying to get recognion for "p3d0s3xual behavior" (sic). They are basing on acceptance of gays and saying its only a matter of time and that it is a civil rights matter. THINK. is this the precedent you want to set? or that you say family – man + woman + kids as it has been for millenia.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Damocles,

      4) Being able to find someone to fall in love with and want to marry is hardly a bad habit.

      well.. I fell in love with three women and they all love me too. so we need a group marriage, and the state to give social security benefits 3X, one for each woman. We also need employers to cover all of them in medical insurance. how about that? after all its not a bad habit

      January 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Book by family researcher upholding my point of view

      http://www.amazon.com/Life-Without-Father-Compelling-Indispensable/dp/0684822970

      January 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      1. Breaking up family (kid needs mom AND dad and gets different values from both). bring back no fault divorce

      A kid does not need a mother and a father in order to grow into a productive, well-rounded individual. There are many such people in today's world. They are business leaders and doctors and teachers.

      What a child needs is a home built on love and access to education.

      2. Allowing unborn children to be killed

      You want to end abortion? Great. Let's start at the beginning. Make birth control available to every one 13 or older. Hell, make the implants mandatory for girls. Teach boys to use condoms. Teach them from very young that very bad things happen when you don't use one. You're never going to stop teenage sex, so make it next to impossible for them to get pregnant. That'll cut into a huge number of abortions right there.

      3. Redefining marriage to allow devaint relationships, like same s3x. Next we will get p3doph1le, b3st1al, polygamist, whatever

      You make it sound as if all of those things are equal. They aren't. Both pedophiles and those who engage in intercourse with animals are perpetrating a crime on someone who is unable to give consent. If there is no consent, it is rape. Pure and simple.

      Homosexuality and Polyamory (a preferred term to polygamy which implies a one sided, multi partner relationship) are not committing rape. They are simply different configurations for a family. Equality for consenting adults does not equal equality for criminals.

      4. Coddling bad habits and dependencies by supporting big government

      Big government? Like controlling what a woman can do with her body? Like interfering with the education of children and supporting Big Oil and other corporate interests?

      January 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • gary

      Wow. your such an ignorant, bigoted ass. Do you always focus on just the tiniest negative aspect of any issue that generally makes you feel uncomfortable? How much research did you do that reflect on the positive examples of gay parenthood?

      January 27, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      MyWerightInWOrds

      the way to avoid killing unborns is not to corrupt everyone. Keep the kids innocence, keep them virtuous, and save the unborns.

      January 27, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Christian imorality

      • 1 List of Christian evangelists involved in scandals
      o 1.1 Aimee Semple McPherson, 1920s–40s
      o 1.2 Lonnie Frisbee, 1970s–1980s
      o 1.3 Marjoe Gortner, early 1970s
      o 1.4 Billy James Hargis, early 1970s
      o 1.5 Jim & Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, 1986 and 1991
      o 1.6 Peter Popoff, 1987
      o 1.7 Morris Cerullo, 1990s
      o 1.8 Mike Warnke, 1991
      o 1.9 Robert Tilton, 1991
      o 1.10 W. V. Grant, 1996 and 2003
      o 1.11 Bob Moorehead, 1998
      o evangelical 1.12 Roy Clements, 1999
      o 1.13 John Paulk, 2000
      o evangelical 1.14 Paul Crouch, 2004
      o evangelical 1.15 Douglas Goodman, 2004
      o 1.16 Kent Hovind, 2006
      o evangelical 1.17 Ted Haggard, 2006
      o evangelical 1.18 Paul Barnes, 2006
      o 1.19 Lonnie Latham, 2006
      o 1.20 Gilbert Deya, 2006
      o 1.21 Richard Roberts, 2007
      o 1.22 Earl Paulk, 2007
      o 1.23 Coy Privette, 2007
      o 1.24 Thomas Wesley Weeks, III, 2007
      o 1.25 Michael Reid, 2008
      o 1.26 Joe Barron, 2008
      o 1.27 Todd Bentley, 2008
      o 1.28 George Alan Rekers, 2010
      o 1.29 Eddie L. Long, 2010
      o 1.30 Marcus Lamb, 2010
      o 1.31 Vaughn Reeves, 2010
      o 1.32 Stephen Green, 2011
      o 1.33 Albert Odulele, 2011

      January 28, 2013 at 7:00 am |
  12. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    MOHAMMAD WAS A COMMON CHAMAR [AMATURE SHOE MAKER] IN MIDDLE EAST.

    January 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  13. FREEMASONRY FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION BUG IN THE ASS OF ISLAM

    Drone strikes reach out and touch someone-ism.

    January 26, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • ¿¿lol

      occasionally

      January 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Islam: The Religion that goes BANG!!!!!

      We keep sending children in bomb vests to blow up the drones, but they just don't jump high enough before they explode.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      AARRRR AAARRRRR WOOF WOOFF AAARREEE WOOF WOOF

      January 26, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  14. Damocles

    @RB

    Guilty by reason of birth?

    January 26, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Devoted Christian

      No. By reason of yes, no, and it may be so.

      There. All questions from the filthy atheists answered. NOW will you convert? Pretty please??

      CONVERT NOW OR BURN IN HELL FOREVER, DAGNABBIT!!!!!!

      January 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Religion: the less you think about it, the more sense it makes

      Yep. God loves entrapment.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Damocles

      @DC

      Mmmm... I'm going to have to say no, repeatedly. Keep trying though.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • God

      I'm really into selling fear.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • tod

      It was never about right and wrong. God created people with the ability to either obey him, or do your own thing. That's God's idea of "free will", obey me, or else. About as loving as your local street gang offering you the choice of paying protection money to them, or having your shop burned down, with you in it.

      January 27, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  15. Damocles

    @RB

    Wait, wait.... wait. I really hope I'm reading your post wrong.

    Are you saying that a deity would have kicked them off the land if they did not stone people??

    January 26, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
  16. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    MOHAMMAD WAS A BULLSH!TER. IT'S TIME TO BREAK LOOSE AND JOIN 'NONE'

    January 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      hinduism absurdity of a hindu ignorant follower of hindu filthy RAM, propagator of hinduism, incest by hind raping his sister to make example for every hindu child of hinduism incest to live by hinduism, racism.

      January 26, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  17. lionlylamb

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Ti3mtDC2fQo

    January 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Refuting your own arguments now, are we?

      January 26, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I can see how a book that attests to its own truth, makes promises, and threatens eternal punishment if you put it down could make an impression on a young mind. Is that what happened to you, Robert?

    January 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      oops, let's try that again

      January 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  19. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    HAD MOHAMMAD ALIVE TODAY, HE WOULD HAVE OVERWHELMINGLY JOINTED THE "NONE"

    January 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Spew your hinduism, absurdities under your own ID, hindu ID thief.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Like Jesus, Elvis, and most everyone who has ever lived, Muhammad is now nil.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Damocles

      I think, maybe, he would try to dis-joint them.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      I GIVE 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE MOHAMMAD WOULD HAVE FIGURED IT OUT BY HIMSELF
      'NONE' =BMW 6X, AND 'FAKE RELIGION' =DONKEY CART

      January 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      One is borne to have a choice in positive, and is living, even after his mout, death, but the one who lived by hindu Judaism, denial of truth absolute, secular ism, never lived to be called alive, and after Mout, death, end of his limit of choice must not expect choice of his soul, desire but, what is he earned and was promised for him, hind, hell and will have hind, to live in.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      YO DO YOU WANT TO KNOW TROTH ABSOLUTE? TONIGHT YOU WOULD GO TO BED WITH HEART BURNS 'CAUSE SOMEONE CURSED YOUR MOHAMMAD. MAY BE YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A MOHAMMAD DOLL IN BED WITH YOU.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      MOUT =Military Operations on Urban Terrain !!!!!! WHAT THE F

      January 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  20. New Atheist

    Okay,
    Maybe i can get a thoughtful answer from a thiest here:
    Why don't you practice everything in the bible?
    Whay are some parts sacred and some ignored?

    January 26, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      The Bible is a book it's not God. It was compiled after the church was formed. There's nothing in the bible that states you must practice everything written in it.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Devoted Christian

      I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over HERE in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      You're using too much punctuation. If you want to fake stupid properly you need less caps, punctuation(they hate commas!), more misspellings.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • mama k

      (trying to cover up my mouth from laughing at Polter – don't want to wake hubby up)

      January 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      Don't worry, Poltergeist, we expect you to be a huge moron. Your book is supposedly the word of god. To pick and choose which passages you honor couldn't possibly please him, pansy-pants.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caitlin_Upton

      January 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      New Atheist,

      The short answer to your questions is that many of the instructions in the bible were conditional and given to a specific people, for a specified time, and in a particular place.

      If you would like quote one I would be glad to try and help.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • mama k

      Wow. I forgot about that Caitlin Upton. She was really channeling Sarah Palin there.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Damocles

      Why many instructions? Why not something short and sweet like 'be good to each other and stop doing stupid things'. Is that too simple for the all powerful one?

      Hey, let me give these instructions to this group and then some different instructions to those guys over there and, just for the fun of it, let me give completely contradicting instructions to old Frank over there because it just tickles me to death to see Frank run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • New Atheist

      @Robert brown

      I'll start with the easy ones:
      All the people we are supposed to be stoning to death; disrespectgul children, people who work in the sabath, non-virgins who mary ... and men who share a bed with their wives during her period.
      I'm guessing you've heard these before.

      January 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmm . . .

      So Robert, you are saying that God is a moral relativist?

      January 26, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      New Atheist,

      The 26th chapter of Leviticus would answer a lot of your questions on the OT law. God made a covenant with the children of Israel. He told them they were to keep the Law and he would keep them safely in the land he gave them. If they didn’t keep the Law, he would kick them out.

      The ones you mentioned were instructions given specifically to the children of Israel, so unless you were one of the children of Israel living in that land, you wouldn’t be required to stone anyone.

      Jesus summed it up best when he said the most important commandment was to love God and the next was to love your neighbor as yourself.

      OT law is still often quoted, especially the 10 commandments because it gives us an idea of the character of God, but you cannot be saved by keeping the law. That is why Jesus came because no one can keep the whole law, we break it whether in thought or deed. Instead of paying the penalty, being stoned to death for breaking the law, we can accept Jesus. He paid our penalty for us.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Damocles

      @RB

      Wait, wait.... wait. I really hope I'm reading your post wrong.

      Are you saying that a deity would have kicked them off the land if they did not stone people??

      Sorry accidentally posted this at the top.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Hmmmmmmmmmm . . .,

      No, I don’t think God is a moral relativist. I think he gave specific conditional instructions under an agreement. The agreement was broken. I think the law shows us we are all law breakers according to God, but instead of receiving the death penalty, we can accept the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for our sin and live.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Damocles

      The reply button and I seem to be disagreeing tonight.

      Anyway....

      @RB

      Guilty by reason of birth?

      January 26, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Damocles,

      I don’t think it was not doing one thing that got them kicked out.

      Here is what he said from Leviticus 26:

      “14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
      15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
      16 I also will do this unto you;…..”

      January 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Damocles,

      Are you asking if I believe in original sin?

      January 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Damocles

      Reply button.... check.

      @RB

      But that had something to do with it, right? I mean, they could do everything else correctly, but if they were a bit squeamish on stoning people, watch out.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Damocles

      @RB

      If you do, it's an argument for killing people in the womb. Why take the chance?

      January 26, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Heaven forbid I not be up to date on every Internet meme.

      The bible was created by council of Nicea to standardize the churches doctrine. In the early church there were many more manuscripts that were being read among church members. It's a collection of manuscripts, that's it, it's not about pick and choose, you're just not supposed to read it like an instruction book.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Damocles,
      No, I don’t think so. God was very patient and forgiving with them. They would rebel and start worshiping other gods doing many of the things he told them not to, he would punish them, they would repent, he would bless them, and so on. Finally, they turned completely from him and wouldn’t repent, so he brought in other nations to destroy, capture, and scatter them. After all of that, he is not done with them yet.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • ¿¿lol

      "you're just not supposed to read it like an instruction book."

      The old part is just fable. But for the new part – well – that should be read for what it is. Read it like it's a copy of an earlier pagan story with some added material about a dude roaming around telling the story to everyone and his brother.

      January 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Damocles

      @RB

      You say you don't think so and then say he would punish them for not doing the things he asked. Strange.

      So let's say there's this kid and his dad and you know, as kids are wont to do, the kid disobeys the father. Well the father is a mean old coot and just punches the kid everytime for everything, I mean whales on the kid, bruises, broken bones, the whole ten yards. Is that father justified in hiring the bully down the street to kind of hammer home the idea that no kid of his is going to go against his wishes? Of course, after all that, he's not done with the kid yet, not by a long shot. After the bully gets done with the kid (not even getting into why the father would have to hire out the dirty deed) the father starts whaling on him again.

      You side with the father, correct?

      January 26, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • lol??

      The perfect Son:"Jhn 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."

      January 27, 2013 at 12:57 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.