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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
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

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. Reality

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    January 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  2. Nclaw441

    @EndReligion– Your post: Love doesn't exist. It is a concept we use to describe an emotion, which is a response to other stimuli. Love is used to cloak our desire to procreate. Love is used to cloak our survival impulse to protect our clan (family and friends). The emotions we feel can be measured to the effect that they can be shown to register brain activity, but this isn't actually "measuring love".

    You're going to go with "Love doesn't exist"? And then you go on to describe something that you say doesn't exist? Most everyone agrees, contrary to your assertion, that love does exist. Most have felt love, for spouse, for parents, for friends, even for pets. Love exists. The problem is proving it with the means presently available to us. And that is essentially my point. The fact that we cannot prove the existence of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist (And of course it doesn't prove that it DOES exist either.) But if we cannot prove the existence of something that there are very few doubters (probably no real ones) about, there must certainly be room for faith about other things the existence of which we can't prove, including God. For those of us of faith, the same assurance of the existence of love connects us to God. (It may be too "cute" for some, but Christians believe that God IS love.)

    January 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Damocles

      So we should have faith that everything exists on the off chance that everything does indeed exist? Isn't that an argument for worshipping any and all deities because they may exist?

      I should buy all the cars in the world because there's a very real chance a few of them are going to be lemons and I shouldn't risk not being able to get to work.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Nclaw441

      Damocles– I am not advocating for the position you state on my behalf. True faith, in my view, is not something you can choose. Your faith (or call it non-faith, if you prefer) is that God does not exist. You cannot simply decide to believe something you don't believe. By the same token, I do believe, and if you demand that I stop believing, I cannot do that by mere choice, any more than I could choose to believe that the sky is green. I could say the words, but I would not be truly believing what I say. in my Sunday School class we have been discussing just this concept. Serious people consider their total experience in life, including feelings that they may not be able to fully explain, their observations about nature, the words of those who do have a faith belief, everything. One believes what one believes. I can only urge people to examine themselves and what they say they believe and to test it against what they know, what they feel.

      For me, I am not satisfied with a Big Bang as the beginning of existence, something must have caused it. God fulfills that missing element, although I still have a twinge about where God came from. As between a Big Bang and God, God feels more plausible to me. Others will disagree or have other grounds for their faith.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Science

      DNA works well
      Ancient DNA reveals humans living 40,000 years ago in Beijing area related to present-day Asians, Native Americans January 21, 2013

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-01-ancient-dna-reveals-humans-years.html#jCp

      Peace

      January 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "True faith, in my view, is not something you can choose."

      Nclaw,

      I absolutely agree. From what I can tell you are a Christian, how do you overcome the issue of the Bible stating clearly that non-believers are to be punished? You admit to do so would be immoral (I think).

      For the record I would fight against any attempted enforcement of belief or non-belief.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Nclaw441

      Cheese, you posted: "True faith, in my view, is not something you can choose."

      Nclaw,

      I absolutely agree. From what I can tell you are a Christian, how do you overcome the issue of the Bible stating clearly that non-believers are to be punished? You admit to do so would be immoral (I think).

      For the record I would fight against any attempted enforcement of belief or non-belief.
      ***
      I have not fully developed my faith on that issue. I do believe that God reveals Himself to us all in some manner or another, and that we should respond to that revelation. I kind of suggested a position on that when I said that we all owe ourselves (and God, in my view) the duty to contemplate our existence and our faith. It is part of what sets us apart from the animals, that we are conscious of our existence. Our refusal to do that is perhaps at our peril. What is the punishment, if there is one? It may be separation from a God that whose existence we have refused to acknowledge. I also consider the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where the boss hires workers who start in the morning at an agreed wage. More workers are hired as the day progresses, with some hired just before quitting time. The boss lines them up to be paid, the last hired first. Everyone gets paid the same, and the guys who showed up first get mad. The boss says, " I paid you what we agreed on. You have no grounds to complain." God may provide us an opportunity, after death, to acknowledge Him. I can't say. There are LOTS of questions the answers to which I look forward to learning at a time I don't get to choose.

      Your question is above my paygrade, so to speak. I prefer to approach from the other direction, being the positive things about believing. I am also a big believer in Ephesians 2:8.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Nclaw,

      That was a thoughtful response and I appreciate that.

      You said......... "I kind of suggested a position on that when I said that we all owe ourselves (and God, in my view) the duty to contemplate our existence and our faith."

      I can hosestly say I have contemplated more on those subjects than most believers, and I did most of it as a believer myself. Doing that led me to non-belief. Understand I am not claiming to know with certainity but I will argue the absurdity and immorality of the Abrhamic god to the point I don't reasonable believe that god could be real.

      As far as the "punishment" issue. I don't care if the supposed punishment is annihilation or seperation from god. It is still an immoral concept to punish anyone for belief or non-belief. To accept that would be to accept "crimes of thougt", Jesus preached that crimes of thought are the same as the actions, a real god would know that was wrong.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Nclaw441

      Cheese– sorry for the delay. Had to do some work. Hard to see your post while I reply on iPad, so forgive me if this reply is disjointed and incomplete.

      God is who God is. We may try to describe Him, but we are sure to be lacking in that description. Some have said that man invented God. I don't agree. We try to discern who God is, but in my view we don't get to tell God who He is.

      As God, He gets to make the rules. If God presents Himself to us in a way that invokes faith and we refuse to acknowledge Him, He, being God, can hold us accountable.

      January 28, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      In other words, unless we choose to ignore and abandon all reason, we're doomed.

      Nice.

      Doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to me. If your god gave us the capacity to reason, why punish us for doing so?

      January 28, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "As God, He gets to make the rules. If God presents Himself to us in a way that invokes faith and we refuse to acknowledge Him, He, being God, can hold us accountable."

      Nclaw,

      You are essentually arguing "might makes right". If god tells us to murder our neighbor does that make the action "moral" because god makes the rules? Of course not. You are taking the position of Devine Command Theory and I reject that out of hand.

      You are also ontradicting your earlier point the we cannot "choose belief". If you say I am rejecting god you are saying I am "choosing" not to believe. That isn't the case and you know it. I think you need to do some more "contemplation".

      January 28, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • NClaw441

      Cheese– you posted: You are essentually arguing "might makes right". If god tells us to murder our neighbor does that make the action "moral" because god makes the rules? Of course not. You are taking the position of Devine Command Theory and I reject that out of hand.

      You are also ontradicting your earlier point the we cannot "choose belief". If you say I am rejecting god you are saying I am "choosing" not to believe. That isn't the case and you know it. I think you need to do some more "contemplation".
      ***
      I am trying to acknowledge that while I have faith in the existence of God as described by Jesus during His earthly ministry, that there are lots of things about God that even my faith doesn't inform me about. I do believe that God is fair and just, but I confess that the concepts of fairness and justice as God intends may be very difficult for us to understand. I sure don't have a grip on what being a "spirit" actually means, other than it something that cannot be perceived with normal human senses (or can it?). So my faith leaves a lot of room for the things I don't understand.

      I don't think we have the luxury of rejecting out of hand things that might inform our faith. On my contradiction regarding "choosing faith" you may have something of a point. I confess that this whole concept of the nature of faith is something that I am trying to work through. Whether faith can be chosen or not is an elusive idea, at least it is elusive to my limited intelligence or consciousness or whatever. If I consider Ephesians 2:8 (and I am not trying to use circular reasoning to argue that the Bible is true because it says it is true), faith is a gift from God by grace, so it is unearned and it is free. Right now what comes to mind is that we can reject gifts or we can accept them. I guess, too, that gifts can be offered a second time (and more) if rejected the first time . If God provides us with that "still, small voice" that if listened to we would have faith, to reject the gift is to reject faith.

      I'd like to believe that God provides all of us with the opportunity to accept the gift of faith. Of course, since we are talking about faith, I could surely be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time (as my wife constantly assures me).

      On the "Divine Command Theory" I am not familiar with that term, so it may have special meaning. If I understand it, though, it would seem to mean that God gets to tell us what to do in order to obey Him. I'd have to say that is correct, even if it meant sacrificing virgins or doing other things that don't seem right to us. If I truly believed that God required, in order to obey him, that I do X, I guess I would do it, or risk the consequences of disobeying God. I realize the potential consequences of such thinking, but it is consistent with faith to obey the God you have faith in.

      Fortunately (for me at least) I don't believe that God calls upon us to sacrifice humans, etc. We may be called upon to do some things that society thinks are stupid, misguided and maybe even wrong. I can accept that, and I hope that I would obey.

      Thanks for the reasonable conversation.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select "The One Truth" out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=88GTUXvp-50

    January 28, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  4. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    "So there are no natural consequences anywhere."

    And now we get to the heart of your argument, you want children to be "consequences". You want to punish "s.e.x". We know outlawing abortion will not stop abortion. What will stop abortion is dealing with the reasons women choose to have abortion. If you want to stop abortion fight to provide s.e.x. education, contraception, ect. Unless you do that abortion will continue and you will just prove your true intent, punishing s.e.x.

    January 28, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Chad

      The goal is to protect the lives of those that can't protect themselves.

      What pro-life opposes is tearing innocent children limb from limb until they bleed out and die. Simple.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Damocles

      @chad

      And how far are you willing to go to achieve this goal?

      January 28, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      So what are you doing to try and stop unwanted pregnancy Chad? Do you support s.e.x education and making contraception as easily accessable as possible?

      January 28, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • sam stone

      chad: well, aren't you god's favorite spokesman.....

      punk

      January 28, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • myweightinwords

      If people genuinely want to stop abortion, the first step is to make it law that all girls get an IUD implanted as soon as puberty hits. Then improve sex education and make condoms available to all boys over the age of 13. Make sure everyone knows that proper birth control requires both.

      That would effectively limit the pool of those seeking abortion to only those over 18 (new IUDs can be inserted every 5 years of course, provided we make them cost effective). It would also improve understanding of proper prevention so that those over 18 continue with good practices.

      However, it isn't about abortion. It's about controlling sex. We can't do any of what I said because someone might think it's okay to have sex.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Chard, abortion isn't going to go away just because you are opposed to it. You are now in the minority. Your political side lost. Women do not lose their rights when they become pregnant. Unless you can find a way to force women to carry a pregnancy to term against their will without violating their rights, you are out of luck. That's why such nonsense as the transva ginal ulltrasound requirement in VA was thrown out. You cannot force anyone to do something with her body unless you have her permission.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Chad

      "Women do not lose their rights when they become pregnant. Unless you can find a way to force women to carry a pregnancy to term against their will without violating their rights, you are out of luck. "

      =>actually, they DO lose their rights.
      the only issue is at what point during the pregnancy that occurs.

      The law currently allows unborn children to be torn limb from limb until they bleed out and die ONLY when they are younger than ~20 weeks. When they are older than that, it is illegal to murder them and the mother is required by law to continue with the pregnancy.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Abortions after 20 weeks are not illegal everywhere, and are never illegal when the women's life and health are at risk. Since 90% of all abortions take place in the first trimester, this is a straw man, Chard.

      Women do not lose their rights when they become pregnant. No matter how much you wish they did.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If you have to lie to make a point, Chard, you have no point.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      So are you just going to ignore my question about what you are doing to stop unwanted pregnancy Chad?

      January 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, look at that. Chard lied and then had to run away. Something new and different.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Chad

      If you dont want a baby, use birth control.
      Killing a baby is not birth control.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Chad

      90% of all murdering of unborn children takes place in the first trimester because that's when it is legal.

      After ~20 weeks, the rights of the unborn child are recognized (instead of being ignored as they are prior to that), and from that point onward the mother is required to carry the child to full term (unless there is a life threatening situation). For 2/3 of the pregnancy, the state does indeed protect the life of the child, and in so doing imposes a burden on the mother.

      that's reality.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • gary

      For starters, the morning after pill is birth control.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Are you against all abortion or just abortion if used as a type of birth control?

      January 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      After the first three months, it is reasonable to assume that the woman has taken on responsibility of carrying the child to term of her own free will. Yes it's arbitrary, but it is indeed a reasonable assumption to make.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Sanfranciso

      Chad, Point well made!
      What a terrible human being would demand the right to kill an innocent human being in the womb???

      January 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Sanfranciso/Chad

      It's spelled San FrancisCo!

      January 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "If you don't want a baby, use birth control." But that is what you are objecting to, Chad. You don't approve of Plan B. You don't believe it should be covered by a health insurance plan.

      Furthermore, abortions after 20 weeks are not illegal and in some states what is required for a woman to have one is the signature of two doctors. But, as was pointed out to you before, it's a straw man argument, because the vast majority of abortions aren't late term.

      Women don't lose their rights when they become pregnant. If you can find a way to force a woman to continue a pregnancy she doesn't want without infringing on her rights, Chard, you are out of luck.

      And your permission and approval aren't required.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • The Truth

      "For 2/3 of the pregnancy, the state does indeed protect the life of the child, and in so doing imposes a burden on the mother."

      Yes, it's true, as the mother had the first 1/3rd to make those kind's of decisions before the growing embryo becomes a human with all the rights that entails. It's not a human before it's capable of surviving outside the womb without the aid of the mother. On one hand you have some who want the rights to start at banning contraception because preventing the possibility of a life is somehow murder, and then those who want it to start when the sp.erm and egg meet, others want it to start when noticebly human features appear like hands or when you can hear the heart beat, and the majority who accept our current understanding of 20-22 weeks when the baby could live outside the womb without the mother, and a minority who don't think it's a human till it comes out of the womb and takes it's first breath. That is the debate. Right now we have a compromise which respects the right of the mother to choose but doesn't allow that choice to continue indefinately.

      However, the religious get involved and add an unwanted and unverified factor to the debate: the everliving soul. They have no proof of it, they can't even show they have one let alone whether or not a fertilized egg has one, and yet they want eveyone else, even the non-believers or people from other religions to accept their theory of a soul and make major life decisions based upon it. And that is just plain insane.

      January 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      In these and subsequent decisions, the Court has held that
       even after fetal viability, states may not prohibit abortions “necessary to preserve the life or health” of the woman;
       “health” in this context includes physical and mental health;
       only the physician, in the course of evaluating the specific circu mstances of an individual case, can define
      what const it utes “health” and when a fetus is viable; and
       states may not require additional physicians to confirm the attending physician’s judgment that the woman’s
      life or health is at risk in cases of medical emergency.
      Although the vast majority of states restrict later-term abortions, many of these restrictions have been struck down. Most often, courts have voided the limitations because they do not contain a health exception; contain an unacceptably narrow health exception; or do not permit a physician to determine viability in each individual case, but rather rely on a rigid construct based on specific weeks of gestation or trimester. Nonetheless, statutes conflicting with the Supreme Court’s requirements remain on the books in some states.

      January 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Chad,

      I am glad you agree that birth control is a better option. My question is do you fight for the availibilty of s.e.x education and contraception?

      January 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Chad

      Teenagers shouldn't be encouraged to engage in pre-marital sex

      January 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Teenagers shouldn't be encouraged to engage in pre-marital sex

      Teenagers are going to have sex whether encouraged to or not. Teach them how to be responsible, encourage them not to have sex all you want, but arm them with the truth first.

      January 28, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Teenagers shouldn't be encouraged to have s#x." They don't need any encouragement! They're full of hormones and curious. Most of them are going to have s#x at some point during their teenage years.

      Having access to contraceptives is crucial for them.

      January 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Teenagers shouldn't be encouraged to engage in pre-marital s.e.x"

      Chad,

      So you think the best option is to ignore the issue and just hope it goes away? That kind of stupidity is a large reason why we have the problems you claim to be against.

      January 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  5. SoldierOfConscience

    Life begins at conception. End of argument.

    January 28, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • John not the Baptist

      SofC
      Being conceived in a petri dish and cryogenicly frozen fo a long period of time has affected your reasoning patterns. Perhaps you should hibernate for a very long time.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Every egg is sacred
      Life begins at ovulation.
      Women who menstruate should be ashamed of themselves.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Southern Humanist

      so the gamete cells are not individually alive?

      January 28, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • gary

      Readers – browse down to the previous page to see where SOC was caught lying and had their ass was handed to them.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • SoldierOfConscience

      Purportedly. No proof has been given.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great, is a sperm is wasted, god gets quite irate...

      January 28, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Because you say so?

      January 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Al

      I've always heard that life begins at 40.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • sam stone

      end of argument?

      the blather of the truly delusional....

      January 28, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Life begins before conception, troll. Rights begin after birth.

      January 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • The Truth

      "end of argument" lol

      This is like SoC taking a biology exam and after not being able to answer the first question about evolution writes in "God did it, end of argument" and demands a passing grade.

      January 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  6. Dyslexic doG

    enjoy it while it lasts Christians. Another 10 generations and the human race will look on your God and Jesus the same way as we look on Zeus and Thor and Ra (and santa claus and the tooth fairy) today. What a giggle!

    January 28, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Ka Boom

      In those ten generations, thanks to Dhimmi everywhere (look up the term), muslims will have done jihad and converted everyone, if things go the way they do now.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Ka Boom

      also look up 'peace of the kuraysh'

      January 28, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  7. Universe

    Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)

    “They say (subconsciously), "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected." [6:29]
    “If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]
    “Losers indeed are those who disbelieve in meeting God, until the Hour comes to them suddenly, then say, "We deeply regret wasting our lives in this world." They will carry loads of their sins on their backs; what a miserable load! [6:31]
    “The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?! [6:32]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative (a temporary god) on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    “They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.”[22:74]

    “If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.” [Quran 6:116]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Which God?

      @ Universe. Your Quran is a bigger pile of schitt than the xtian buybull. It's totally fake.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • John not the Baptist

      Bibble babble and quran quibble are of value because.........?

      January 28, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  8. John F Kennedy

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

    January 28, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Science

      Still working for that.
      Evolution won in the Dover court trial. ID/creation can not be taught in public schools in US.. Moving forward, take a blood test map your genes.

      Creationists' tactics also have a more profound impact on science education which goes beyond biology because they communicate the idea that there is something lacking or something wrong with evolutionary theory, an idea which is not actually true from a scientific standpoint. This causes students to develop very mistaken beliefs about the nature of science, the scientific method, and how scientific research is used. This cheats students out of the proper science education which they deserve.

      Attempts to use the law to restrict or dilute the teaching of evolution in public schools matters because science matters. As society relies more and more heavily on science and technology on ever more fundamental levels, it becomes increasingly more important that all citizens receive a proper grounding in science and the scientific method. Science education is becoming a key part of what it means to be a well-informed and well-educated citizen of today; therefore, any effort to temper science education in order to placate a vocal religious group cheats the students, cheats society, and cheats our future.

      January 28, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  9. John Adams & the U.S. Senate

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

    January 28, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  10. James Madison

    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.

    (4th POTUS, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights)

    January 28, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  11. James Madison

    Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

    The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  12. Thomas Jefferson

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  13. 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.

    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 28, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Nclaw441

      Many of those who have suffered the fates you describe were Christians, who maintained their faith in the face of such suffering.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  14. 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 28, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  15. 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.

    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 28, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  16. 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 28, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  17. John Adams

    The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

    Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.
    .

    January 28, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  18. 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.

    The intellectual part of religion is a private affair between every man and his Maker, and in which no third party has any right to interfere. The practical part consists in our doing good to each other. But since religion has been made into a trade, the practical part has been made to consist of ceremonies performed by men called priests ... By devices of this kind true religion has been banished, and such means have been found out to extract money, even from the pockets of the poor, instead of contributing to their relief.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  19. Thomas Paine

    As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism – a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up Chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is an near Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.

    Each of these churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say that their word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say that their word of God, the Koran, was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of these churches accuses the others of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  20. Thomas Paine

    Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.

    It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.

    No man ought to make a living by religion. It is dishonest so to do.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • lol??

      There's a scratch in ye ol' record. Lift tone arm.

      January 28, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • gary

      @lol – sometimes the oldies are the goodies. these are the goodies.

      January 28, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Which God?

      @lol??, Scratch your butt and pick your nose, you'll get more wisdom reading your snot that from your buybull.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:10 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.