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March 9th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Chris Tomlin, king of the sing-along

By Eric Marrapodi and Tom Foreman, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief'] [twitter-follow screen_name='tomforemancnn']

Baltimore (CNN) - The capacity crowd at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore is bouncing in unison to the most widely sung music on the planet today. The catwalk above the arena is shaking.

Chris Tomlin grabs the microphone and asks the crowd if they’re ready.

"I feel alive, on God's great dance floor!" He leads the packed venue in singing and jumping.

Tomlin is out touring the country with his latest studio album, “Burning Lights.” In January, it topped the Billboard 200 charts. But unlike those who've enjoyed performances by Beyonce, Johnny Cash and a host of others who've played this Baltimore hall, after these fans stream out the doors they will have ample opportunity to sing Tomlin's songs again, as one.

That is the secret to Tomlin’s success – the stage, the lights, the band - aren’t about him. As lively as his shows are, the point is not to get you inside the doors. The point is to get you singing in church.

“I strive for trying to write something that people can sing, that people want to sing, and that people need to sing,” Tomlin explained before the show.

Tomlin is the undisputed king of worship music, a genre of Christian music sung on Sunday mornings all across the world and increasingly played on Christian radio stations. The music is simple, devotional and easy on the ears.

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“We would say that Chris is the most prolific songwriter in the United States now, in this past decade,” said Howard Rachinski, CEO of Christian Copyright Licensing International, the company that tracks what music is used in churches around the world.

In 2012, CCLI paid out $40 million to artists and musicians, and Tomlin got a healthy slice of that pie. Churches around the world used 128 songs he wrote or co-wrote last year, Rachinski said.

CCLI estimates that every Sunday in the United States, between 60,000 and 120,000 churches are singing Tomlin’s songs. By extrapolating that data, Rachinski says, “our best guess would be in the United States on any given Sunday, 20 to 30 million people would be singing Chris Tomlin's songs.”

In their last two reporting periods, Tomlin had the No. 1 most-sung song and five of the top 25.

Search YouTube for "How Great is Our God" or "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)." Black, white, Asian, big churches, small ones are all belting out Tomlin songs. A lot.

For perspective, consider Tomlin’s musical success against one secular counterpart. In 2012, Katy Perry's record sales dwarfed Tomlin’s, but Billboard reported her songs were played 1.4 million times on the radio. Using CCLI’s low-end calculation, Tomlin’s songs were played 3.12 million times in churches.

Growing up Tomlin

Chris Tomlin was reared in Grand Saline, Texas, heavily influenced by country music. His dad taught him to play the guitar.

“I learned all country music - Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash, all those kind of guys. Those are what my dad played and I played. And I played at my church as well,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin went to college to study sports medicine. “I just didn't know the music would take me here. I loved it and I was getting opportunities to go play, and when I say go play I was starting to write songs of worship even (as) a young kid. I didn't know really what worship music was, what a worship leader was, any of that. I didn't know any of those terms,” he said.

Today, at 40 years old, he is the artist most associated with worship music.

While in college he began singing and writing in earnest. As a senior, he said, he was getting invitations to lead the music for Christian conferences with 10,000 students.

He knew his music was resonating with crowds when he got a call from EMI Publishing after his song “We Fall Down,” which was released in 1998, starting being  played in churches.

“I was just writing songs for the church and from there they just started taking off.”

The compositions are considerably different from pop music. They are simpler, and he takes pains to write them that way.

“I'm thinking as that comes out of my heart as a song of response, I'm trying to think, how can I form this so that everybody, people who are tone deaf, who can't clap on two and four, how can I form this song so they can sing it, so that it is singable?”

Part of that process comes from his love of country music, the simplicity of that music and the stories those songs tell. His goal is to write songs that communicate what people would like to say to God.

“Now, that doesn't happen all the time. I mean, I write so many songs that you never hear because they are not any good.”

Tomlin is the worship pastor at Passion City Church in Atlanta. He leads worship there twice a month and beta tests all his new songs on the congregation. Tomlin is also a major draw as the worship leader of the Passion Conferences, a series of Christian conferences around the world. In January, the conference packed out the Georgia Dome in Atlanta with 60,000 college-age students. Billboard magazine noted the conference helped push up pre-sales of Tomlin’s latest CD.

His songs are so sought-after that, even before they're released on CD, they start showing up in CCLI’s online database.

“His songs have probably had the most immediate impact on churches that we have seen in history,” Rachinski said. “Even before you get to street release [of a CD], churches are already networked and engaged with his songs.”

Don’t look for a crossover

Other contemporary Christian musicians, as the music industry designates them, have crossed over to mainstream pop with some success. Tomlin said he has no designs on making that leap.

He also doesn’t need the money. Over the course of his career he’s sold 4.2 million albums, had 6 million digital downloads, a number of sold-out tours, and of course, the copyright royalties.

Tomlin said money isn't what motivates him to write and perform.

“I feel like I have a responsibility,  that God has given me a gift to write songs for his church that people listen to and that people are coming to expect now,” he said. “When I make a record I feel that responsibility that worship leaders, churches are going to say, 'Hey, are these some new songs we can sing in our church?' And I don't take that lightly, and I don't go, ‘Oh let's go do something else fun.’”

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“I haven't invented any new instruments, I haven't created new chords that no one has ever played. I play the same chord that every band plays, we play the same instruments up there, the melodies are melodies. The difference to me in the music is that I ask that God's presence be on it and that people, when they sing these songs, sense that God does something.”

The spotlight is on Tomlin even more than ever after starting the year a top the Billboard charts. As he tours the country at bigger and bigger venues, he would prefer to step out of the spotlight, away from the microphone, and let everyone else sing.

“People would be mad that they paid for a ticket for that. So I do that just occasionally, but that is what I love.”

He said the night before, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, he took as much time as he could to step back and let everyone else sing.

“It was just so beautiful, because I feel like it says something. It's not just like, ‘Hey, listen to me sing.’ This is all of us together. I think when you step back from the mic and it is not about you - and yeah, the light may be on you, but this is about all of us singing. This is about a bigger story, it's about a greater story. It's about a greater name than my name. My name is on the ticket, but this is about a greater name.”

CNN's Oliver Janney, Chris Turner, and Dan Merica contributed to this post.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Music

soundoff (1,754 Responses)
  1. Matt in Oregon

    I thought that Christian music was boring even when I was a Christian. This kind of music is bubble-gum pop, but sung to the Jesus instead of one's crush.

    March 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Rob

      His secret is that first he is faithful to God and everybody around his. Second, he uses just simple chord progressions and have went into areas a lot of people have. Hillsong is another that uses this philophy. I truly believe God has given the ability to open doors and bring down barriers.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

    • . . . and numb people's minds

      March 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  2. Steve

    Hmm, Never heard of him or his songs.

    March 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Tom

      Yeah... a nameless "superstar" Whatever...

      March 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Southernsuga

      They sound like a cheap copy of very old Catholic songs: How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace. I've never hear his 'songs'?

      March 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • John K

      I love Chris Tomlin's music. Now you've heard of him. Enjoy!

      March 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  3. joe

    The dumbing-down of America, through music.

    March 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Tom

      Christians don't need "dumbing down" They can't possibly be any dumber.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  4. Tammy

    I'll pray for each and every one of you bloggers who are nay sayers and who REFUSE to accept God, if for no other reason than YOUR OWN PRIDE. (no seriously I will pray for you all) Also, listen to klove dot com for 30 days, go ahead I dare you. Toby Mac is a great artist as well.... I got hooked on Chris Tomlin when I heard his rendition of Amazing Grace, admittedly though I hated it at first, but then I actually LISTENED to the song.....

    March 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Damocles

      So many mouthpieces this all everything deity needs. It really is amazing.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Tom

      Another classic example of saying absolutely nothing in many words....

      March 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      When you say your useless prayers, be sure and end it with the name of the Egyptian sun god or it doesn't count!
      AMEN!

      March 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Matt

      OK Tammy...you pray for us and we will think for you.

      Let us know how the praying works out...while you are there, please pray for the millions and millions of children who die each year by curable diseases...let us know how that pans out? Actually, get a whole group of friends and pray together and let us know if this changes anything Ok?

      you will soon realize Tammy that the reason for a god not answering them is purely this.

      a) God can but does not care too
      b) God can't and can't do
      c) God does not exist.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • ikproductions

      So you hated the song at first, but since everyone else liked, and was listening to it, you didn't want to be labeled as an "outcast" or "non-believer" and decided to go along and start liking it too? That's the Christian way!

      March 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • visitor

      No seriously, do not pray for me. "I'll pray for you" is one of the oldest baloney emotional appeals in the book. It doesn't gain you credibility, it doesn't make you look more godly, it makes you look stupid because most of us don't fall for it. Pray for yourself. Leave others out of your ego-driven delusions.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Festivusfortherestofus

      As Christoper Hitchens asked "what are you praying for?"

      March 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      You pray for us, we will think for you, you condescending gash

      March 10, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Tom Sawyer

      Tammy – Sounds like you've also refused to accept a whole bunch of gods, settling on just one of them. That was after careful examination of all the possibilities by reading their holy texts, actually listening to their worship music, and so on... right?

      March 10, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Matt in Oregon

      Do you realize that many of us used to be religious ourselves? We are not just naysayers who have no idea what we are talking about. I myself was a Christian that served happily for nearly twenty years until I realized that there really is no good reason to believe, that faith in god(s) is not supportable. You will pray for me? Great, if it brings you peace then by all means do so, but pause to ask yourself if this isnt just a false peace.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Tammy

      @ikproductions, I didn't like it at first b/c I've always loved "Amazing Grace" from my childhood, but then after really listening to Chris' rendition of it, minus any interruption from anyone or thing, I fell in love with it. As for the rest of you bloggers/atheists/naysayers, I will pray not only for you but for anyone else lives you come into contact with and lead them astray. For the one's who say they were once Christians but then turned atheist, I'll pray for you the most, b/c I know that you once knew Him, you once accepted Him and then you deny Him, and you know that He has said that if you deny Him before man He will deny you before our Heavenly Father. You'll get no ugliness from me regarding your belief, for me to do so contradicts who I am as a Christian.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
  5. palintwit

    Gotta go now. If mom's boyfriend catches me on his laptop, he'll burn me with his cigarette again.

    March 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  6. Duggerdog

    To be a Christian you have suspend your rational thinking. If Christians actually learned about how their religion started and the how the Bible took aspects of earlier religions and incorptorated those myths into the Bible, they might not be such big believers. Paul really started Christianilty, not Jesus! Plus Paul was Saul. Figure that one out!!

    March 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Tom

      Faith = Flat earth believers.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Dave

      Some awful brilliant people find that religion helps explain the unexplainable in their lives. I'm not one of them (in either case) – but no need to so callously categorize all Christians.

      Modern christian music on the other hand ... surely it makes the case there is no such thing as an omnipotent, loving god.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  7. palintwit

    Here's a riddle for all of you right wing nuts...

    Q: What do tea party patriots, birthers and NRA members all have in common?
    A: They all crawl a mile over broken glass just to sniff the tire tracks of the truck that took Sarah Palin's soiled underwear to the laundry.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • palintwit

      Here's another riddle for you tea baggers: Who is the biggest moron on this website today?

      It's ME!

      Nuff said.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Arlen

      I can tell by your content that you are one of the more intelligent progressives...

      March 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • palintwit

      Actually, I'm quite an idiot. Just like my left wing brethren.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  8. George K.

    I think that Howard Rachinski needs to look up the definition of the word "prolific," because he doesn't understand it.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  9. End Religion

    If you believe in god and hell then there is no question god sends people to hell if they don't play his game properly. He supposedly set the game in motion and forces one to choose.

    Just like Jigsaw from the movie Saw, god supposedly puts a game in motion, forcing people to choose his way or torture. While the poor cattle in the movie indeed get to "exercise free will" they've still been bound into a game against their choice, then forced to play by its rules.

    And you call this god a loving god... lol.. He's a horror movie monster.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Consider that over 100 billion people have ever lived. The book of Revelations tells us that God will only allow 144,000 people of jewish descent into his heaven. That's .014% that get a rosy afterlife. And that's only allowed for .2% of the world's population who have jewish ancestry. Everyone else burns in torture? What a monster indeed.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  10. us_1776

    There is no Sky Fairy.

    Get over it.

    .

    March 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • gdouglaso

      Or, maybe there is.
      Get into it.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Damocles

      Or, maybe Zeus is real.
      Get into him.

      Or, maybe Dionysis is real.
      Get into him.

      Or, maybe Bast is real.
      Get into her.

      Or, maybe Raven is real.
      Get into him.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Matt

      Or, maybe Ra is real.
      Get into him.

      Or, maybe Odin real.
      Get into him.

      Or, maybe Horus is real.
      Get into him.

      Or, maybe Baal is real.
      Get into him.

      This is a fun game!

      March 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • ikproductions

      haha come on guys everybody knows that the Devil implanted all those false deities ahead of time to trick people! The oldest trick in the book. Gotta watch out for that sneaky Devil

      March 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Damocles

      Or, maybe He Who Invites and She Who Invites are real.
      Get into them.

      Or, maybe Daghda is real.
      Get into him.

      Or, maybe the Rainbow Serpent is real.
      Get into it.

      Or, maybe Raiden is real.
      Get into him.

      You're right, this is fun!

      March 10, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  11. TruthBeTold

    One of the best songs ever – Imagine, by John Lennon.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Renminou

      There's a fair amount of brilliant but well-composed music out there for those searching for the greater oneness, the higher good.
      Take earlier Genesis or a good deal of the music of the band Kansas – Kerry Livgren teaches Sunday School and Smokin' Dave Hope, the bassist, is an Anglican minister in (get this!) Destiny, Florida.
      Also, as was mentioned, "Imagine", and let's not forget "Let it Be", and Roger Hodgson's "Take the long way home", "Give alittle bit", "Lord is it mine", and "Babaji."
      Peace, Love, Namaste.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Dave

      Kansas – that band stopped being good after their second album. Kerry Livgren morphed into a Christian fundamentalist version of Yoko.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Akira

      Kansas's "The Wall" is a good example of what you're talking about, Renminou.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  12. Sara

    Gospel music is the last refuge of untalented scoundrels, no-talents and hacks.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Arlen

      Jealous are we, Sara?

      March 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • pam

      Please don't insult true gospel music with the likes of Xtian country music mush.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Arlen

      Amusing. And who appointed you music critic – the Rolling Stone?

      March 10, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Tom

      @ Arlen
      Yours are, Typical, pointless, inferiority complexed, ignorant, immature, comments.
      Get a life...

      March 10, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Nclaw441

      Justin Wilson, the Cajun Cook, used to say, "What is the best wine? The kind you like!" It is the same way with music. The bet music is the kind YOU like.
      We can each decide for ourselves.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • chuck

      Arlen = Tool

      March 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  13. The_Scoo

    Dear Atheists,
    One day about 20 years ago, I was about to go to church (I was actually practicing music that we were going to play for our youth group), and out of the blue, God to me to drop everything and go to my dad's house. No, I didn't hear a voice like in a movie. It was like an episode of accelerated learning. One moment I didn't know something. The next moment, I did. The fact that I needed to drop everything and go to Dad's was as simple and known and true as 2+2. I was the only one leading at church that night and I was very new to it. I made a phone call and hen left the whole group hanging. When I got to Dad's he had fallen off the wagon for the first time many years. He had had nothing but alcohol in his body for several days and had had a seizure. I'm no Dr., but I doubt he would have made it through the night. There's more to the story, but it's just details. I tell you the story, because, so often I see your simplistic evaluation of why somebody is a Christian. Typically it's because we were "told" something and chose to believe it. or we "read" something and chose to believe it. Most of the times you try to define our experiences for us (and call us arrogant?) it has something to do with a lack of thinking, analysis, even suspended adolescence. Your speaking from a superior point of view and you don't even know the basic vocabulary. I've known many atheists who wold never do that about a scientific field in which they were not very well read, but have no hesitation to do it about religion. So, if any of you have any chemical, biological, mental or social-conditioning related reasons why I knew to go get my dad that night I'm all ears. Christianity is a living, breathing highly dynamic process – not a moment or a state or an opinion or even an acceptance. It's a relationship. BTW my dad is an atheist who I love dearly. He lived with us for the next 18 years.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • clarity

      That's way too long for a simple song. You have to keep your sentences short and rhyme once in a while. There's not a lot you can do with just three or four chords, so the lyrics have to be really, really simple.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • frog

      COOL STORY BRO

      March 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Melissa

      So you were hearing voices in your head that you attributed to a god, and decided to change your life forever. That's called schizophrenia.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Damocles

      If only he had told you sooner, like before your dad had the seizure and whatnot and who told him to fall off the wagon in the first place? I know, I know, it certainly wasn't your deity. All the credit for the good, none for the bad.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • The_Scoo

      Clarity,
      How's this:
      G C
      Everyone's talking science when they should be talking art
      Em D C
      It's not a matter of the mind, it's a matter of the heart
      Em D C
      It's not a matter of the mind, it's a matter of the heart
      Better? and I don't even really like worship music.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      What makes you think it was a god? There is unexplained, or you can jump to an irrational and unjustified conclusion goddidit.

      What information do you have that says there was a god invloved in any way shape or form...or is it just you believe because you believe?

      This is exactly why I am against religion...let us a$$ume for a moment that something did happen. Why do you jump to the conclusion it was a god?

      March 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • allenwoll

      You are QUITE unclear about what an Atheist is - It appears that many of them are as well unclear.
      .
      Theist, Atheist : BOTH exercise personal FAITH, faith that THEY indeed understand a concept which is simply NOT verifiable - THAT is, after all, what FAITH is all about ! ! . THAT is why faith is weak and treacherous !
      .
      Only the Agnostics, the even-handed Doubters, are FREE of FAITH ! ! . No Agnostic has EVER done Jihad ! ! !

      March 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • clarity

      That's better on the rhyming Scoo. Now go see a professional about your delusions and you're good to go.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      What a load of doublespeak nonsense. The bible only contains about 5% factual history. We atheists don't disbelieve out of distaste. We disbelieve because of the thousands of gods that man has worshiped, there has never been a single myth that stands up to the scrutiny of science and history. Christianity and Judaism are not based on truth, and there were never an actual hebrew faith to begin with. Their religion is a blending of Canaanite pantheons, Mithraism, and Egyptian pharoah worship. There may doubtfully be a god, but humans don't know a shred about it if it exists.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • The_Scoo

      Damcles,
      wow – a perfect example of someone thinking it's what? right, good, accurate or even possible for to define my experience for me? Those are all excellent questions that I wish I had the answer to. Unfortunately I don't. I also don't believe that not liking an answer or a situation is valid reason for not believing in it. How many other things do you not believe in because you don't like them? If you find you're inconsistent in that area you may be well served to look at your motives. Also, If someone saves a dying relative of yours from drowning. I hope you don't chew them out for not building a fence around the pool before you got there. "Thanks" is probably a good place to start. After that. you can have a conversation.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Saving the earth,one pithy comment at a time

      Your dad was on a bender.It occurred to you that,perhaps he was going too far this time.That makes you a good son.Give YOURSELF some credit for being responsible to a human condition and not giving your church more importance than your father's life...As for the possibility that god spoke to you,more evidence for this belief is required,as you had a predisposition for these thoughts.Sorry.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • The_Scoo

      Richard, If I met you you might say something like "Hi, my name is Richard" Then I would know your name is Richard. It works kinda like that. Not complicated, really. I wouldn't need to have read a book or know your history. You would even be Richard if I really didn't like other people who knew you.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Damocles

      @the scoo

      I find it amusing that you asked in your original post for someone to define your experience and then pitch a bit of a hissy when people try. I never said I liked or disliked what you said, I'm just pointing out that if you think a deity gave you insight, you have to admit that it could have come a bit sooner.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Damocles

      Richard could lie about his name.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • The_Scoo

      Saving the earth
      I completely and totally respect your questioning thoughts. The story wasn't meant to convince anyone else, but to demonstrate that people who believe have personal experiences that influence that belief. I at 17 discovered God before I had read the Bible or gone to a Church. Some personal experiences are big. some are small. But I don't know a single Christian who doesn't have a similar story. So people like Seyedibar who brings up Canaanite pantheons and Mithraism history are quite literally talking about a different subject.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • froSTed

      Ahh the cry for help from a poor "believer". Here's a few things you Christians don't seem to know, or they just have trouble comprehending:
      The world if full of happy (and not so happy) coincidence. You hear more about them now because there are almost 7 Billion (big number for you) people on Earth and we can all communicate here, online. People do make up stories too, in fact, some people believe anything they see online.
      Belief is DANGEROUS. When we challenge belief, and find facts, it's called science. You really need to comprehend that believing something DOES NOT make it real. And to back that statement up, here is a little Christian conundrum: I am your god, because I believe it. Prove me wrong. See? You can't. It is written, and therefor you must have faith. Must suck to be you right now, so gullible. Want to buy a pet rock? It will never die on you.
      Another conundrum for you: just because something HAS NOT been explained by science YET does not mean it must be a deity's personal involvement in someone's life. I challenge you to find me direct testable scientific evidence that any deity actually exists. If you want to say that faith is about believing in this rubbish with no proof, no rational, I suggest that you break your arm and pray it better, see how that works for you. You see, it's the science that will set your arm, the science that will heal your arm, and the science that will keep you free of infection during the process. Your prayers are simply wishes, hopes, dreams, and while it is important to have an active fantasy life, being unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy is an essential part of modern society (and being an adult). Instead of praying, try actually actively DOING something about the problem. You will find that you get a lot more accomplished when you take responsibility for your actions, and situation, and become an active participant in your own life.
      You keep looking for a causal relation between your belief and an event. This is understandable, but using your religion to explain everything in childishly simplistic terms, when the truth is that you really don't know, is offering you a false sense of security and an unreliable conclusion. You think that you believed yourself into magically knowing when to do something because of a deity. Tell that to the women who believe with all their hearts, and miscarry, get cancer, get hit by their spouses, have a stroke while driving, get breast cancer, I could go on. These things happen as part of the human condition, they are neither effected by prayer, no fixed by deity intervention. In short, religion has lost to science because science is reliable, reproducible in it's results, and evolves over time to become more effective.
      Another great example: we learned to fly, not because a god lifted us up, but because we (humanity) tested and discovered and pushed ahead without a prayer but with math, and science.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • visitor

      You had a bad feeling about your major alcoholic Dad and called him. And he was involved with a major bender and suffered a health crises.

      Yes? You needed God to validate the fact that you wanted to call your Dad? What, if God didn't tell you to check in on your alcoholic dad your church friends would get mad at you?

      Now if you had said you went to your Dad's house, and he was seizing, and he stopped seizing and stopped drinking right there and then, you would have a story there. Otherwise, sorry but that is not particularly impressive as an inspirational story. Pretty much every parent of a teen that checked on a teen and found a teen doing something the teen shouldn't be doing could be claiming God instead of well, being a parent.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      you apparently think that YOUR personal experiences apply to us. how is that not arrogant?

      March 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      Scoo, I'm glad you could help your dad but there isn't anything supernatural about what's going on. We all have wacky impulses that turn out to be nothing but we cling to the ones that seem to mean something. It's like when the phone rings, we think of someone, and the call turns out to be from them: weird. But it isn't weird, it's just that you forget all the other times the phone has rung, you've thought of someone and it was a sales call.

      As other people have posted, if this was a message from god why didn't he get a hold of you before your dad got drunk AGAIN? Why didn't your god just contact your dad and say "if you drink tonight you'll die and go to hell"? Or why didn't the almighty just make your dad fall into a coma BEFORE he drank? Please don't say free will because if you have free will then he interfered with that when he called you, so he could have interfered at any other time.

      And anyway, we're told time and again even though god loves us he has a plan and whatever we do doesn't change it. Is his plan so shabby he needed to change it at the last minute and tear you away from your church gig to save your dad? Why is your dad special? Maybe its just because he's YOUR dad and you want him to be special? What if you would have brought 16 people into the faith that night if you had showed up on time, but instead went and saved one atheist? Of all the billions who your god has supposedly killed over time, why is he worried about this one death of a drunk atheist?

      My own mom went through a weird situation where she was going to die fairly soon if she didn't get a liver. She was added to the list but they told her the wait was so long she could die while waiting, sorry. Then a relative of ours died in an accident and my mom got first dibs on the organs because he was a relative. She had the surgery and lived. Sometime later she had said to me, "can't you see what a miracle this was, how can you not see god was involved?" I told her as politely and gently as I could that I did not agree at all, and that I thought it was kind of arrogant. All those other people on the list who died just because she got bumped up due to a relative dying. And the relative was young 20's – her sister's son. I asked her if she thought her sister thought it was so miraculous that her son had to die to save her 55 year old sister. Her sister would probably have traded my mom's life for her own son in an instant if given the choice.

      Everyone thinks their own life is special. The more superstitious among us attribute ghosts to the things we don't yet understand. We've done this since the beginning, and slowly over the years have shown again and again that it is not ghosts but perfectly reasonable natural explanations. Your god of the gaps keeps getting pushed back. One day he will be gone for good. The sooner you wake up, the better.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • ME II

      @The_Scoo,
      "Most of the times you try to define our experiences for us.... So, if any of you have any chemical, biological, mental or social-conditioning related reasons why I knew to go get my dad that night I'm all ears."

      I'm confused, first you complain that Atheists try to define your experiences, then you turn around and challenge Atheists to try and define your experience.... which is it?

      March 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Damocles

      @me II

      I said the same thing.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • ikproductions

      I think it's cute that you feel you had a "choice" with Christianity. Well typically they indoctrinate the children at such a young age that there is no choice, only the illusion of choice, and that you chose it. You are brought up to believe that God is fact and to not question that, and what's worse, to discount anything that may disagree with the views of Christianity.

      Luckily there is always hope that one day you will decide to research your religion, and question your faith. By asking these questions, what's the worst that can happen? If it is all real and true, then you will only grow closer to God. Right?

      I guarantee you though, once you start researching, you will be an Atheist in no time.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • ME II

      @Damocles,
      Ah, so you did. Sorry, I missed it.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Damocles

      @me II

      No worries, it needed repeating. 🙂

      March 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  14. Ipoopedtoday

    I pooped today
    Let's sing about it
    I pooped today
    Gotta brag about it
    No TP today
    It was perfect
    I pooped today
    Let's sing about it

    March 10, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • frightened

      we are poopless! God give us a new poop!

      March 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • ikproductions

      I'm sorry but that was a blant Chris Tomlin rip-off... might have to call the Christian Copyright people.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  15. Constantine16621990

    There is nothing worse than christian music music:( gross!!!

    March 10, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Sara

      Amen, brother!

      March 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • pam

      Christian country music is worse.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Tom

      Problem with all things Christians is that they are not real... They're whole culture is vacant, hypocritical and phony...

      March 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  16. lance corporal

    stop supporting the evil empire that is the christian (and really any other organized top down religion) church!

    they are getting BETWEEN you and god!!!

    dump the church, follow john prines advice and learn to find jesus (or god, allah, buddha etc) on YOUR OWN!!!

    be good for the sake of goodness

    March 10, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Melissa

      Even in the bible your god is a horrid being. Even if I'm wrong, why would I ever want to worship such a hateful, cruel, and childish creature?

      March 10, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  17. chuck

    Take out the his christian shtick and he's a mediocre pop artist at best.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Arlen

      Jealous are we, Chuck? Everyone's a critic...

      March 10, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Tom

      @ Arlen
      Yours are, Typical, pointless, inferiority complexed, ignorant, immature, comments.
      Get a life... pt2

      March 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  18. Texasmike

    As a lifelong Roman Catholic who pretty well knows the score as much as anyone else, its about time that we have a separation of Church and Religion. Evangelical types will be confused by that statement because they are automatons for a "Church" but really aren't religious. My experience with evangelicals here in the US is that ANYTHING is ok during the week because you will be forgiven on Sunday. The "Church" is just their get out of sin card. They still don't get it. I grew up in a religious atmosphere, NOT a Church doctrine one....I know most won't get it but the majority of thinking Catholics who follow the "Religion" don't need a Pope to tell them how to be religious.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • lol??

      The KJV doesn't capitalize church.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • jdurand

      That's very interesting, Texasmike. Your view of evangelicals is EXACTLY my view of Catholics. Go to confessional, say a couple of Hail Mary's and you're absolved of your sins and free to go right back out there and commit them again.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      The KJV replaced the word "congregation" with "church", when King James Stewart adopted John Wessley's bible in 1602.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • lol??

      You got me on that one since John Wesley was born in 1703.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      John Wesley was a Dutch printer who died in 1592. The Tudors burned his bible so much reprints became a driver of technological advancement, in the area of printing machines.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  19. ShawnDH

    Religous people are so odd and I think very weak (and annoying). They need to be told what to believe and they can't stand it that not everybody believes ancient Middle Eastern fairy tales are real...because we, you know...have actually thought about it and embrace things like logic, science and a reality-based existence.

    I wish more religious people would begin thinking for themselves and break out of the shackles religion has created for them. I'm so thankful my parents didn't imprison my mind with religon.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      I'm so thankful REAL rock n roll freed me from the shackles in which I was raised. (Science reason and logic also played a part.)

      "They say there's a heaven for those who'll wait
      Some say it's better but I say it ain't
      I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
      THE SINNERS ARE MUCH MORE FUN
      Only the good die young."

      March 10, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • hawk75701

      If you could please stop telling people how to live to better your own live, that would be great. In summary, if you go on a forum to get real life advice, then you need to get bettwr friends.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • lol??

      "........... logic, science and a reality-based existence............." in the hands of crooks leads to nowheresville.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • pam

      The crooks are the ones who sell fear lol??

      March 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • lol??

      So why you havin' yer crooks buy 30,000 drones to protect us Masters??

      March 10, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • pam

      The snake-oil salesmen having been selling fear far longer lol??. They've created the conflicts that have lead to the current events that you're hung up on.

      March 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • lol??

      pam, if yer interested in snakes you've come to the right place. The slipperies dance the Hegelian dialectic with their forked tongues constantly. They even make up rules for their debates. Their line dancing has been known to mesmerize. Carry a hoe.

      March 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  20. lyman

    I'll put the same reminder I've put out for Democrat/Republican wars. Appreciate the article for what it is, criticism is reasonable, but arrogance isn't going to win your argument when you belittle the other side because (1) the issue (in this case, Christianity) has been argued for centuries and isn't going to be settled by your argument here, and (2) the more arrogant you are, the worse your ideas look. Civility, reasonable argument, respect for the other side, humility. If your ideas represent a better world, then act like it. Please.

    March 10, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Saving the earth,one pithy comment at a time

      Why do atheists get fired from jobs for their atheism?Why do their children get bullied and ostracized at school?Why are atheists the least trusted group in the US?Is this reasonable behaviour?Christian groups show NO tolerance for dissent when their numbers are strong.But,when the conversation is more intimate,they play the victim.This has been the practice of religious groups since god was invented.

      March 10, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • lol??

      savin', that's a new one to me. Got any resources or references you could pass along??

      March 10, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Science

      Sure do lol?? move along NOW !!! Sources are GOOD !

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/09/my-take-a-word-to-christians-be-nice/comment-page-75/#comments

      March 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
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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.