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A killing, a life sentence and my change of heart
Jeanne Bishop, left, and her sister Nancy visit Scotland in 1990, the year before Nancy's murder.
February 2nd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

A killing, a life sentence and my change of heart

Editor's note: Jeanne Bishop is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who, along with her husband and their unborn child, was shot to death by a juvenile. Since the murder of her family members, Jeanne Bishop has been an advocate for gun violence prevention, forgiveness and abolition of the death penalty. She is a criminal defense attorney in Chicago.

By Jeanne Bishop, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I have been paying close attention to the changes coming since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down any mandatory life sentences for juveniles who kill.  A teenager killed my sister.

He killed her dream, too. She wanted to be a mom.

My sister Nancy married young.  She was overjoyed when she got pregnant at age 25.

That dream died three months later, when she and her husband walked through the front door of their home and found their killer waiting for them.

He was a 16-year-old with a history of violence.  He wanted to see what it was like to kill someone. He found out when he broke in and shot Nancy, Richard and their unborn baby and left them to die on a cold basement floor.

When the killer was arrested, details emerged that turned my stomach. He had joked about murdering my family members, even attended their funeral.

When he was convicted of the murders, he was remorseless. When he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, I was glad.

After sentencing, my mother turned to me in the courtroom and said, “We’ll never see him again.” I was glad of that, too.  I wanted to wipe him off my hands like dirt.

I never spoke his name. I wanted his name to die and Nancy’s to live.

When a coalition of people (including law professors such as Bernardine Dohrn and Randolph Stone whose advocacy on behalf of children I have always admired) launched efforts to abolish juvenile life sentences, I was appalled. The last thing I wanted was to attend parole hearings year after year, to beg bureaucrats not to release the person who had slaughtered my loved ones.

So I publicly fought any change in the sentence.  I told myself that fight was not just for my family, but for other family members of loved ones murdered by juveniles who would be affected.  I was like Saul early in the Book of Acts, the righteous one with a zeal for justice, before he was struck down and humbled and given a new name: Paul.

Then, I repented.

My road to Damascus moment didn’t come in a blinding light or a voice from heaven. The voice that changed my heart was that of a Mississippi-born, Vietnam veteran, Yale-educated  Southern Baptist pastor and academic named Randall O’Brien.

O’Brien told me something true - that Nancy’s killer and I are both children of God, equally beloved and equally fallen. O’Brien reminded me of Jesus’ example on the cross of what to do with those who have harmed us: pray for them.

I had never prayed for the person who killed my loved ones; I had never even uttered his name.

I say it now: David Biro. I began praying for him in the only place I could: the garden where Nancy and Richard and their baby are buried. I dropped to my knees and asked God for something I never could have imagined, that Nancy’s killer get well enough to get out someday.

I don’t know that he will; he is not there yet.  But I do know that no one, including him, is beyond the forgiveness and redemption and purpose of God.

My two young sons taught me that. We were talking about loving your neighbor as yourself.  Stephen asked, “What about the person who killed Aunt Nancy?”

Brendan replied, “We can’t love what he did. But we have to love him, because God made him for a purpose.”

Brendan is right. God made each of the juveniles serving life sentences for a purpose.  I can no longer support a sentence that says never.

Repenting privately would be cowardice, since my past support for locking up some juveniles forever has been so public.  So when lawmakers in my state of Illinois consider bills next month that would abolish juvenile life sentences, I will be there to speak in favor of the mercy of a second chance.

Dr. Marcus Borg, a biblical and Jesus scholar, notes that the roots of the Greek word for “repentance” mean “to go beyond the mind that you have.”

My mind is changed; my heart is remade, and a new task lies ahead.

- kramsaycnn

Filed under: Belief • Guns • Violence

soundoff (1,981 Responses)
  1. godisgreat

    I understand Nancy's sentiments and that is totally fine and probably the right thing to do, as there is absolutely no point in harboring any ill feelings now, well after the fact. And God, being omnipotent, omnipresent & omniscient by nature, dictates each and every act of humans or for that matter of all living beings. So, if you agree with that in principle, then there is no point whatsoever, in harboring any malice towards anyone at all, including the killer of your sister's family.

    As for the laws around juvenile's getting off, I'm not entirely sure that the age limit needs to be that high as has been in the past, since kids nowadays get exposure to violence from a very young age. Even so, there are lawmakers to decide on that. And if Nancy feels that her thoughts will be heard, then I don't see any issues with her participating in either of the rallies, so long as there is no malice towards anyone.

    The feeling of hatred or ill will comes when one considers all that one possess to be one' own. When that feeling of 'ownership' of everything goes and deference to God sets in, you can see that everything's really alright as everything comes to be only per His will. One really truly don't own anything at all, naked we come into existence and naked we have to go. So, why harangue about all that comes in between?

    February 4, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • SHrUb....gOd wIlls iT.....

      "And God, being omnipotent, omnipresent & omniscient by nature, dictates each and every act of humans or for that matter of all living beings. So, if you agree with that in principle, then there is no point whatsoever, in harboring any malice towards anyone at all, including the killer of your sister's family"

      This line is classic example of the religious BS usually spouted as the clergy attempt to insert themseves into a tragedy...guilt trip suvivors into 'forgiveness', and in so doing putting money on the collection plate further down the road.
      utterly shameless....

      If Im going to forgive somebody- ill forgive....i do not need some strange clown sidleing up to me pretending to "know my pain" and shoving his brand of whatever god he bows too down my throat . these fvcking parasites and their BS should stay the hell away from victims.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  2. angel

    The Bible teaches God can't sin,but man can,and does in practicing wars,and polluting the earth,so wars and pollution are not of God.Jesus teaches,God makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,so all life is precious and sacred to God as all life depends on the sun and the rain,but in wars life is expendable it isn't as precious and sacred as it is to God.And pollution can cause the sun to make the earth hotter adding to Global Warming,and it can cause acid rain destroying things.So if you're against one,pollution and Global Warming,you should be against the other,wars as well,otherwise it's hypocritical.And pollution can poison the air,and take away the breath of life that the Bible says comes from God.Genesis says man is to be steward of the Earth and so take care of it as it sustains all life.And Jesus died on the Cross teaching that we are our brothers keeper,but in wars you kill your brother in mankind.So the Bible teaches that all life is precious and sacred to God,and Revelation warns of wars and natural disasters caused by man that can make all life extinct.

    February 4, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "angel", but all that is unfounded.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Mirosal

      You didn't just drink the Kool-Aid, you bathe in it. Who is to say that it wa YOUR "god" who created this planet? What if it was Zeus, or Odin, or Ra? And we are now being punished by THAT "god" for not believing in it anymore? Your "god" is just like all the others... just another myth that, in time, will also fade away. This kid comited the crime, he admitted to it freely and was glad he did it. Death is too easy for him. Put him in general population, give him a tra'mp sta'mp that says "I like little kids" and let the other lifers behind bars deal with him in their own "special" way.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Tribalism and the wars that come with it are the fault of God.
      Once upon a time, humans all spoke the same language and came together to work towards a common goal, making bricks and burning them hard.
      But God was threatened by what man was accomplishing and like a petulant child, He struck down the work of man.
      To assure it could never happen again, He split humanity into tribes and stripped their ability to communicate effectively, thus ensuring misunderstanding and strife.
      Thanks to modern technology, the curse of Babel is being lifted. What do you suppose God will do about it this time?

      February 4, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Wow, what an odd spin on reality! I think you need to go back to kindergarten and start over...this time listen in science class...you might actually realize how uneducated you just sounded.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • SHrUb....gOd wIlls iT.....

      Entire post is Epic Fail .....

      The Bible teaches all life is sacred? you must have missed Animal Sacrifices, the destruction of several cities and peoples...either directly or by instruction to his middlemen....

      as far as Revelations go, all you have to do is watch a city being sacked, its inhabitants being butchered, ra ped and enslaved and you ll be able to write something Revelations-like too...

      Must be a case of : Do as I say- not as I do eh?

      February 4, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Science

      @angel
      You said,And pollution can poison the air,and take away the breath of life that the Bible says comes from God.Genesis

      Princeples work well.

      18 Major Events in the Geological Thearte explains how the planet made the FREE air we suck in 24/7
      Yale University

      February 4, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Saraswati

      "Genesis says man is to be steward of the Earth and so take care of it as it sustains all life."

      Maybe your god can't sin, but it sure sounds like he can make great whopping mistakes.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  3. Doc Vestibule

    Remorseless murderers must be segregated from society and punished for their crimes.
    The gods can do with him as they will after we're done with him.

    February 4, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Science

      @Doc Vestibule

      Agree

      Thanks for the test tube.
      Neat stuff, how this works (U-Pb) dating no gods required

      February 4, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Alchemy turns things into gold. Science says things turn into lead. How sad for us.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Biggins

      I don't buy into all the religious bull. What loving and caring god creates a person that harms or kills your loved ones? Since he is a remorseless killer he should be locked away for life period. I don't want that numbnuts out on the street trying to harm me or my family! It's nice (I guess) that the sister has forgiven this guy, but if I were in her shoes I certainly would never be able to forgive him, let alone pray for him, he's obviously really psycho and will probably be a threat to society until he dies. Keep him in jail where he belongs, and perhaps his story will inspire another troubled youth that is having the same thoughts to go seek help instead of killing more people.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Science
      It's nice to have a solid, current, undeniable instance of evolution taking place in an lab to haul out when chatting with Creationists.
      Between that one and the advances in DNA level data storage, I don't see how people can deny that the 5 laws of Darwinian Evolution are applied daily in a tangible, practical ways.
      "A theory in crisis" it most certainly is not.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • CosmicC

      Alchemy claims to turn lead to gold. Science shows us that lead is still lead. A child might be thrilled to believe in magic. A mature person will be happier knowing they have lead than attempting to spend it like gold.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Science

      @ Doc

      It is a great ONE. FUN too.

      Peace

      The air one also cracks me up.

      News Relaese Jan 30 2013 We are (RNA) EVOLVING in a test tube.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Science

      @Doc

      Yea agree about the creationist, the world wide view of the icr ,they are gasping for that free air gods did not provide.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Science

      No gods needed to make gold.
      Where Does All Earth's Gold Come From?
      Precious Metals the Result of Meteorite Bombardment, Rock Analysis Finds

      Sep. 9, 2011 — Ultra high precision analyses of some of the oldest rock samples on Earth by researchers at the University of Bristol provides clear evidence that the planet's accessible reserves of precious metals are the result of a bombardment of meteorites more than 200 million years after Earth was formed.

      Dr Willbold continued: "Our work shows that most of the precious metals on which our economies and many key industrial processes are based have been added to our planet by lucky coincidence when the Earth was hit by about 20 billion billion tonnes of asteroidal material."

      This research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907132044.htm

      February 4, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  4. Pukka

    Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, psychopaths such as the one in this story will go out and do the same thing once they are released. I have a background in psychology and I have studied psychopaths extensively over the years and they can’t be rehabilitated. They may be children of God, but they should be with him (not us). Let him meet his maker!!!!

    February 4, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      The problem with those overly dependent on religion, is that they use it to replace the often very well established findings of sciences like psychology.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  5. Red Dog

    I could forgive someone who murdered my family. Right after I threw the switch to send them straight to hell.

    February 4, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  6. Bob Johnson

    From the heart of God Himself! Thank you for not holding it in because others, like myself, need to be humbled to forgiveness of both the other person and ourselves. Blessings!

    February 4, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • charles

      What religious tripe. This ladies change of heart and belief that the killer was created for a purpose is so naive. Everything is not created for a purpose. We are created by happenstance. Had my parents felt frisky on a different occasion, I would not be here, but another creation might. If you follow her line of reasoning, and it was a dog that mauled and killed her family, I'm sure her response would be to have the animal destroyed and would have no qualms in doing so. Someone who kills just to see what it feels like is worse than a mad dog and not worthy of redemption and should suffer similar justice. What if his purpose in life was to commit the heinous crime he is now incarcerated for? Leave him where he is.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:12 am |
  7. Reality

    Only for the eyes of Jeanne Bishop:

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    Some added references to "tink-erbells".

    newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

    "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
    Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

    "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

    And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

    "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

    "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

    "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

    For added information see the review at:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

    February 4, 2013 at 7:53 am |
  8. crabman

    AN EYE FOR AN EYE-----

    February 4, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • myweightinwords

      ...makes the whole world blind...

      February 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  9. wackem

    Prison is too good for these creatures. Sometimes we just have to understand that there are things that can't be repaired and are better off dead..

    February 4, 2013 at 7:25 am |
  10. Ginamero

    I'm thankful Ms. Bishop was able to write the Juvenile Justice Reform Committee a letter in March of 2007 stating she did not want Biro released. It's nice she managed to keep her sanity long enough to assist in squashing a bill that would set all these juvenile killers free before she then flip flopped and decided turning these juvenile killers free on the rest of us is what her god wants from her....because her god loves these killers. He should, he made them. I make daily deposits to the toilet but have zero desire to keep them around. Ms. Bishop has gone nuts from her grief or maybe she just wants the rest of us to hurt as she does.

    February 4, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • John

      I agree.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:50 am |
  11. Fooz

    I'm sorry, but I could never do that. I would want him dead. Period.

    February 4, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  12. Thuban

    I can see forgiving someone, but that does not always come with letting them off the hook. That guy who killed her sister sounds like a genuinely evil person.

    If I heard that he had honestly had a change of heart in prison, that would be one thing. But this seems to me like a lady who wants to move on with her life and is getting it confused with some other things. To set a person with no remorse free is dangerous.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:41 am |
  13. WASP

    i'm a firm believer in the death penalty; however i don't think the current death penalty is enough.
    i believe if you prove yourself to be an animal, then you deserve to be "put down" like an animal.
    if a bear, puma, etc etc attacks a human we will hunt that animal down and remove that dangerous animal.
    i believe the same should be done when a human proves to be a danger to other humans, give them 5 years to get their affairs in order, then put them down for good. you can't repeat an offence if that becomes your last offence.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:40 am |
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      Jerry Townsend confessed and was convicted of murder. Do you think he should have been executed?

      Here's the kicker. He confessed due to a mental disease that caused him to very badly to want to please others. Those others included police officers at the interrogation. He told them what they wanted to hear.

      Further, after 20+ years in prison, DNA proved that Eddie Mosley (behind bars at that time for other murders) was the actual murderer.

      So, do you think Jerry Townsend should have been executed even though he wasn't a murderer? Do you think he should have been executed because he had a mental illness that caused him to very much want to please others?

      When you make blanket statements, I think you should be prepared to address individual counter examples. So, we'll see...

      February 4, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • NClaw441

      @Thomas Hawk– If his was a false confession he should not even have been jailed. But should the "system" have known his mental state? No one should be jailed wrongfully and certainly not executed wrongfully. Was the killer of Bishop's sister wrongfully convicted? Does the killer even contend that? Your example, while interesting, doesn't really apply in this discussion.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • WASP

      @HAWK: if the investigators and the court couldn't tell that mr. townsend was lying and didn't know important details related to the case, those only the killer would know then that is their failure.
      i stand by my orginal statement. if you are caught red handed

      February 4, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • WASP

      @hawk: (continued)
      if you are caught red handed or convincted due to overwelming evidence then the culprit should be treated as the animal the person is.
      there is no reason to keep a person alive that has proved themselves to be more of a risk to the whole than a benefit.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • charles

      the responses referring to unjust executions or sentences do not have any logical bearing on this case. This is not the forum for that. This case was proven, the individual had no remorse.
      I realize that many people are unjustly sentenced, and I believe that if proven beyond any chance of error, the death penalty should be imposed, otherwise life sentences give a person the time to prove their innocence.
      Unfortunately, the human animal is not perfect, hence the fact that we have heinous crimes and logically, sometimes we err in our penal system, but I fail to see the argument for this particular instance.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • CosmicC

      If you know anything about the administration of justice in this country, especially with regards to the death penalty, you must acknowledge that innocent people have been executed. The Innocence Project has shown that many people are convicted through bad acts, whether intentional or unintentional, by police and prosecutors and through poor representation of people who cannot afford a good lawyer. I'll support the death penalty when you can show me that is is applied systematically and evenly. Until then, I'd rather not chance losing my life because someone who looks remotely like me committed a crime in a jurisdiction where conviction rates are under more public scrutiny than successful appeals.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      To administer the death penalty with the level of safties our culture would require is more expensive than keeping people locked up. It's more efficient to reduce murders ( which is what we're talking about) in other ways.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  14. What a Joke

    Christians are delusional and sick people if they worship a "God" who would want them to forgive a person like this. What an offensive and ridiculous idea, that your "God" would expect you to forgive this guy. Grow up and put down the book of fairy tales.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:28 am |
    • NClaw441

      Your post seems to suggest that people can simply choose what their faith is. I disagree. Faith is more complicated than that; at least true faith is. As a matter of logic, it would make more "sense" for atheists to decide to believe in God. If they are right they would be saved from hell (whatever that turns out to be). If they are wrong, and there is no God, they are really no worse off for having lived a moral life. But if we truly search ourselves, we cannot simply choose whether to believe in God, or what attributes God has.

      God is who God is. Our belief does not change that. Having faith means that we cannot prove with evidence God's existence or His nature. That has to come from within. Christian faith provides that God gives us the gift of faith, if we will receive it. That still takes an inward look and openness to what we believe about God.

      You and others don't have that faith. I get that. Still others believe in other forms of God as their personal faith. Someone is "right" and the others are "wrong." How will God (if He exists, as I believe He does) deal with that? It is far above my pay grade to make that call. But there IS ultimate truth. The God of Christians either exists or He doesn't. My faith doesn't make His existence more or less likely, and your disbelief doesn't either.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • midwest rail

      " If they are wrong, and there is no God, they are really no worse off for having lived a moral life." Are you suggesting that they can't live a moral life unless they subscribe to your definition of God ?

      February 4, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • NClaw441

      Midwest, no I am not. I am suggesting that the Christian faith does call for a moral life that atheism does not, of itself, call for. Is that what you really got from my post?

      February 4, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Peace Lily

      Why is it that non-believers are so very gun-ho when it comes to denouncing God and declaring their own right to not believe, yet find it necessary to come to open forums such as this and make less than admirable commentary on the subject? You don't have to believe. It's not required that you, personally, believe. But it is no different from the horrid past of our country in the way we once viewed slavery and the non-believers willingness to disregard, malign, taunt, or otherwise degrade people who are believers. If you are so dead set against the belief in God, then why come here and read and comment to start with? If you are so sure that God does not exist, what could possibly be your purpose in coming to read this story EXCEPT to follow up by making disrespectful remarks? Why would you come here and try to take away something that gives people comfort, and resolve, and makes them better people than they would be without it? Isn't that like demanding that people be like you rather than be what their hearts tell them? Doesn't your belief that Christians are somehow living a fairy tale by believing in the God that you claim doesn't exist very much like your very own brand of self proclamation that you are somehow "special" and that you know best and that you cannot possibly be wrong? Prove the belief in God wrong beyond any reasonable doubt. Let's see what you have to offer the argument. Me? I am quite content with my decision where God is concerned. My life is better for it and so is my heart. I will stand any test you offer in terms of what my faith leads me to be as a compassionate human. Life is precious, it is short, and I can see a direct correlation in the violence in our society and the lack of faith and the way we now treat one another. I have wonderful friends who do not believe in God...but they respect my choice in the matter and do not make me feel stupid or unwelcome because of my choice. Maybe you should re-think your position as well. To discount believers in God only makes your world a smaller place and keeps you from knowing some very awesome human beings. Putting aside religion, faith, and a belief in God – forgiveness is not so much for the recipient...it is for the giver. It takes a burden from the giver that detracts from the ability to thrive, and think clearly, and robs them of their focus to move forward . I know this firsthand as I, myself, have forgiven some pretty horrible things done to me.

      February 4, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • CosmicC

      I'm an atheist and I believe in forgiveness. As with my other, similar beliefs, I see no reason to bring a supernatural being into the discussion. I consider myself a moral person in that I obey a set of rules that have evolved to help our societies survive. However, if you cannot understand the social and personal benefits of forgiving, maybe we'd be better off if you joined the believers. I'd rather have a bunch of delusional deists than a much of amoral realists (of course, what I'd really prefer is moral realists).

      February 4, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Saraswati

      @NClaw441,

      Your argument for the logic of choosing to believe in God is Pascal's Wager, posited over 300 years ago, and immediatedly shown to be flawed. The main problem here is that you assume only two possibilities, when in fact there are an infinite number, many of which would be universes in which only the believers were sent to hell. It's an ethnocentric argument which presupposes the superiority of the Christian view in setting up the argument in the first place.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Peace Lily

      CosmicC? I have to disagree with your description of God as being "supernatural". This is simply due to the fact, realistically, that there are so many things in our lives...now...today...that we must have faith that it exists. Science tells us a lot exists that no human being has ever realistically confirmed. Science tells us the composition of the sun...we have no way to prove or disprove their conclusions. Science tells us that the universe followed a certain path to existence, yet none of them were there for the ride. So much in our belief system, when analyzed, can be touted as nothing more than simple conjecture. Science has been trying to figure out the human brain for very long time, but they are no farther now than 200 years ago. The claims they make are conjecture...nothing more. It is our personal choice whether or not to believe them.

      February 4, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • LinCA

      @Peace Lily

      You said, "Why is it that non-believers are so very gun-ho when it comes to denouncing God and declaring their own right to not believe, yet find it necessary to come to open forums such as this and make less than admirable commentary on the subject?"
      It's a public service. Would you not try to convince someone who believes in the Easter Bunny, and tries to change secular law based on that belief, that he or she might be wrong?

      You said, "You don't have to believe."
      And you are free to believe whatever nonsense you want.

      You said, "But it is no different from the horrid past of our country in the way we once viewed slavery and the non-believers willingness to disregard, malign, taunt, or otherwise degrade people who are believers."
      Hoy fucking shit! Are you insane?

      Are you seriously comparing enslaving people with pointing out how moronically stupid it is to still believe in imaginary friends?

      You said, "If you are so dead set against the belief in God, then why come here and read and comment to start with?"
      Because dimwits, who are unable to shed their infantile beliefs use those beliefs to shape society.

      You said, "If you are so sure that God does not exist, what could possibly be your purpose in coming to read this story EXCEPT to follow up by making disrespectful remarks?"
      I respect your right to believe and worship as you see fit. But beliefs should be challenged. Beliefs don't deserve automatic respect. Anyone who displays their unfounded beliefs on a public forum should expect them to be questioned.

      If you don't like your beliefs challenged, keep them to yourself.

      You said, "Why would you come here and try to take away something that gives people comfort, and resolve, and makes them better people than they would be without it?"
      like I said above, if you wish to remain blissfully ignorant, close your eyes, ears and mind. Certainly don't engage in a discussion that you can't possibly win.

      You said, "Isn't that like demanding that people be like you rather than be what their hearts tell them?"
      No, of course not. You are free to do whatever, just like I do.

      You said, "Doesn't your belief that Christians are somehow living a fairy tale by believing in the God that you claim doesn't exist very much like your very own brand of self proclamation that you are somehow "special" and that you know best and that you cannot possibly be wrong?"
      No.

      You said, "Prove the belief in God wrong beyond any reasonable doubt."
      For starters, there isn't a single, solitary shred of evidence to support the existence of any god. That alone should cause any reasonable person to take pause and reflect on whether it is wise to believe in any.

      While the absence of evidence doesn't constitute evidence of absence, it places gods at the same level as all other imaginary beings. Gods are no more likely to exist as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.

      You said, "I am quite content with my decision where God is concerned. My life is better for it and so is my heart."
      If your beliefs and religion keep you from becoming a murderer, please don't ever lose it.

      You said, "I will stand any test you offer in terms of what my faith leads me to be as a compassionate human."
      Silly beliefs are not required to be compassionate.

      You said, "Life is precious, it is short, and I can see a direct correlation in the violence in our society and the lack of faith and the way we now treat one another."
      You've taken the bait and fallen for the propaganda. Even if there is a correlation between violence and the decline of faith in this country, that doesn't establish causality. Other countries where there has been an even steeper decline in religiosity see far lower crime rates than the US.

      February 4, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Peace Lily

      LinCA...just by putting your fingers to the keyboard, you made my point in spades!

      February 4, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • LinCA

      @Peace Lily

      You said, "LinCA...just by putting your fingers to the keyboard, you made my point in spades!"
      Can't stand criticism? You seem to feel that you should be free to display your boundless ignorance, yet appear violated when someone calls you on it. Just because you have the right to believe whatever nonsense you want, doesn't mean it deserves respect.

      Don't come here and complain about others not respecting your silly beliefs without putting forward something that would support your case. Like I said above, if you don't want your beliefs questioned, don't put them on display.

      If you feel that somehow your beliefs are valid, please do share the reasons why. Because, unless you can support your beliefs with a rational argument, they are just that, beliefs. And without any argument to distinguish your belief in your god from a belief in the Tooth Fairy, they are essentially the same. Given the support in evidence for the existence of the Abominable Snowman, Loch Ness monster and Santa Claus, they are all far more likely to exist than your god.

      But, who knows, maybe we missed something. If you have any evidence, please share. Enlighten us. What distinguishes your god from the Easter Bunny? What is it, other than indoctrination, that makes it any different?

      February 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  15. janpierdut

    he should have been executed after proven guilty.Period.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:05 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Why make it easy on him? Throw him in a cell without any access to the outside world...no newspapers; no tv, no internet, no magazines, nothing that will let him feel part of society...let him go crazy with his own thoughts. Death is far too easy.

      February 4, 2013 at 6:09 am |
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      Maybe so. You haven't supported your point. SCOTUS supported their rulings.

      What specifically are the mistakes made by SCOTUS in their rulings?

      When I refer to SCOTUS, I'm not saying their supporting statements are correct. I'm saying they exist. It appears that your supporting statements don't exist. What gives?

      February 4, 2013 at 7:11 am |
  16. Karen

    I'm not religious, but I do know hate only destroys one person – the hater. The one being hated isn't affected by the haters feelings at all. So Jeanne is taking a healthy approach to this and saving herself in the process.

    February 4, 2013 at 5:38 am |
  17. NeoPrudentist

    So let me get this straight so I can understand.

    Let all the criminals out of jail no matter how dangerous or crazy they are because God loves them and no one deserves to live out their lives in jail.

    But at the same time become a "gun violence prevention advocate" which is really just another word for "proponent of gun control".

    So how are people supposed to protect themselves from all the criminals she is working to set loose on the world at large? Their bare hands?

    What would this person have to say to a family whose loved one is murdered by someone whom she has worked to release?

    February 4, 2013 at 4:16 am |
    • Ginamero

      I agree with you. This woman has had her come to Jesus moment and that's fine for her. I prefer my violent criminals locked away. As a free thinker I shake my head at these religious folks who want to pass laws over me because of how their gods 'talk' through them. She's a joke. I hope when she works to set David free he comes and lives next door so they can have prayer meetings and drink tea.

      February 4, 2013 at 6:36 am |
  18. Mary

    I REALLY can't wait for another 100 years to pass and we can get past all this useless monotheism that has occupied good folks for the last few centuries. the next religions should be much more interesting if the evolution in religion that we have seen since just prior to the Bronze Age continues! Their will no doubt be Galactic input! Universal consequences! Eternal eternal life!

    sighs.

    so do all the holy books out there promise real estate to certain favored races?

    February 4, 2013 at 4:05 am |
  19. Joe48

    the jews know that Shiva is not real...the Muslims know that Pele is false, the christ followers know that Mithrias was just a tale...................yet they all think they are right! Lol, just a bunch of athiests all of them...

    February 4, 2013 at 3:57 am |
    • CosmicC

      I've been to Hawaii, walked up to a lava flow. The power of Pele is hard to ignore.

      February 4, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  20. Jen Be.Me

    That was a good point, that all of mankind's gods and goddesses over the millennia have been false.

    Humans are a species of Great Ape, there is no soul that continues. Corporeal death is finite. Yes? Lol!

    sighs. stupid human dreaming to never die

    the heaven/hell bit is for beyond trillions and trillions of years right? They just never did the math.

    why to people fill their thoughts with such useless chatter? Its worse than television or movies!!!

    February 4, 2013 at 3:53 am |
    • Bennie

      I think I love you maam :0) good night you beautiful intelligent (2nd chromosome double centromere fusion site linking you to an orangutan) sweet little thing

      February 4, 2013 at 3:55 am |
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      Karen, that is a good point.

      I will add that one thing that prayer does is release oxytocin in the human body. This is a good thing. Of course, there are other ways to release oxytocin but why criticize people who choose the method called prayer? Oxytocin is beneficial.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:14 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.