The money man behind atheism’s activism
Todd Stiefel, a wealthy businessman, is responsible for bank rolling many atheism activism projects.
March 23rd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

The money man behind atheism’s activism

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

(CNN) - Todd Stiefel is far from a household name, and the odds he gets recognized on a street corner, even in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, are small.

For Stiefel, a slim, scruffy ex-Catholic, his public persona is his wallet and activism. Through the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the 38-year-old has made an indelible impact on the nation’s fastest-growing “religious” group: the nonbelievers. Most of the highest-profile atheists campaigns –- flashy billboards in high-traffic areas, news-making efforts to get atheists to come out of the closet, and boisterous rallies - are funded by his fortune.

Stiefel isn’t shy about his far-reaching goals.

“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”

So far, Stiefel has pumped $3.5 million into those aspirations, and his money benefits a number of atheist organizations, from the Clergy Project, a group that helps atheist and doubting clergy out of the closet, to American Atheists, arguably the most in-your-face atheist group in the country.

Stiefel sees his work as far more than just money. For him, this is just the beginning.

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From Catholic school to atheist millionaire

Stiefel was born in Albany, New York, in 1974 to Catholic parents. He was raised in a Catholic household, confirmed in the church, attended Sunday school, went to a Catholic high school.

“I was a cross-wearing, praying, religious-retreat Catholic,” Stiefel said. “You could say there were points that I felt the spirit.”

But his faith, he said, fluctuated during high school. “I was always a skeptic,” he said, “and I always asked a lot of questions.”

At 18, Stiefel attended Duke University to pursue a degree in psychology. To fill an elective, he took an Old Testament history class at the Duke University Divinity School. It was there, he said, that his final “ebb” away from belief took hold.

In the class, Stiefel said he saw a flawed logic in the Old Testament. In particular, he said, he began to see much of the Old Testament as unoriginal stories that had been told in many pagan traditions.

“'Wait a second, is what I believe in really the truth or is it really the accumulation of myths bundled in a package?’” Stiefel remembers asking himself. “That was the end of my faith right there.”

After graduating from Duke, Stiefel went into the family business: Stiefel Laboratories, a company that develops products to combat skin diseases. For 12 years, Stiefel worked with his family and turned the business into a major player in their specialized market.

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In 2009, with Stiefel in an executive position, the Stiefel family opted to sell the company to GlaxoSmithKline. The price tag: $2.9 billion, according to media reports at the time.

“I only got a very small piece of that, for the record,” Stiefel said with a laugh. “I did, however, find myself in a unique and fortunate position where I was able to do whatever I wanted to do.”

And like many who have the luxury of doing exactly what they want, Stiefel began thinking about what he was truly passionate about. After kicking around the idea of starting another business, the answer became clear to the young millionaire: advocating for atheism.

“I wanted to try to help the world,” he said. “I wanted to give back and this seemed like the most productive way to help humanity.”

‘Just doing my part’

Stiefel put $2 million in to begin his foundation. In his first year, according to tax documents, the nonprofit disbursed $700,000 to groups like the Secular Coalition for America, the American Humanist Association and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In 2010 and 2011, the giving continued with the foundation distributing around $750,000 to different atheist and humanist causes. In 2011, he also pumped another $500,000 into his foundation.

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“I am just doing my part within my means,” he said. “Different people have different means. I am doing what I can do, just like the rest of the people in the movement are.”

But recipients of the money, such as David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, see his impact as much greater than just a one-off activist.

“Todd is an example of what major contributions can accomplish for atheism,” he said. “From a donation stand point, he is really leading the movement to a different level.”

Walking the line

One of Stiefel’s major concerted contributions in the last three years was the Reason Rally, an event held on the National Mall in Washington, which was billed as a watershed moment in the atheism movement. The goal of the event was to show to religious Americans that atheism was a powerful minority in American life.

Stiefel speaks onstage at the Reason Rally.

The rally drew a number of high-profile speakers, including Richard Dawkins, the author of “The God Delusion,” and thousands of attendees, despite rainy weather.

In his speech to the crowd, Stiefel talked about what he sees as the most important problem facing atheism: “Discrimination comes from ignorance, and in this case it is ignorance about our beliefs,” he said. “We are told freethinkers believe in nothing, but that’s a misunderstanding. We believe in a lot of things; we don’t all believe the same things.”

Stiefel put $250,000 toward the rally, a contribution that Silverman, the organizer, said was critical.

“He brought the Reason Rally to a brand new level,” Silverman said. Without that money, “we would have had far fewer people and a far smaller event.”

Silverman and the Reason Rally advocated for a specific brand of atheism. Silverman, who regularly calls his group the “Marines of the Freethought Movement,” is not shy in making it clear that he views his goal in calling out religion and elevating atheism.

Stiefel says he doesn't necessarily endorse those tactics wholly, but he does see their validity.

“I try to walk a line,” he said. “I see religious criticism as valuable, and groups like American Atheists are good at that. I do think we have to have a dialogue about who has the right ideas and part of that is pointing out the flaws in religious ideas.”

Stiefel continued: “I also see inter-belief work, though. I do find a lot of value in inter-belief work and I do see a lot of value in general charity work.”

Evidence of that is his work on cancer fundraising.

In 2012, Stiefel approached the Foundation Beyond Belief with an idea of creating networks of nonbelievers around the country to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Stiefel tapped into his atheist network and began organizing different event.

In total, the atheist groups raised $430,000 in 2012, including a $215,000 donation from Stiefel and his wife, Diana.

“Across the country there are 150 local groups of atheists and freethinkers raising money for charity,” Stiefel said proudly.

The key, however, was bridging the gap between atheist and religious communities in the name of charity.

“We welcomed Christians, as well,” he said. “Some of our biggest fundraisers were Christians.”

For 2013, the goal is to raise $500,000.

Expanding the community

With money and resolve comes great influence for Stiefel. He has the ear of many atheist leaders, meaning he can dictate the movement’s focus.

Stiefel said he wants to see the atheism movement expand its footprint.

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“What I would really like to see is expanding out communities to people who may not just be atheists or agnostics and into people who are religiously skeptical and may still have some religious beliefs,” he said. “Nobody is a perfect skeptic and I would like to see more people like that in our community.”

For Stiefel, this is a personal priority. He says his wife, whom he describes as a skeptical Christian, is someone who would fall within an expanded atheist movement.

“My message is not only of anti-theism,” Stiefel said. “I don’t choose to attack religion itself. I see religion as something that provides both good and ill to the world.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism

soundoff (7,617 Responses)
  1. Gnawing Side of Doubt

    Do people know the difference between Agnostic (Latin – To not Know) and Atheist (Latin – To reject all theories of God)? I can fully understand Agnostics. It's hard to believe in something you feel you've never seen. Have Atheists done their homework, though? Checked out the 7 major world religions and the hundreds of others? Not likely.

    But be an Atheist. Be my guest. Why do the rest of us need to join your Club? That sentiment goes for all organized philosophy. If we want to know, we'll call you. Leave it all out of public policy. Why try to eff with a belief system in which someone finds comfort?

    Here'a a thought: Worship the Sun. Atheists feel they owe nothing to the Universe. If you cannot find a belief system that fits you, thats fine. I get it. Do you owe nothing o the Sun? It gives you light, heat, food, and you'd perish without it. Are you THAT ungrateful you owe nothing to any part of the Universe? Silly.

    I truly hope when you find yourself facing tragedy alone, or watched any loved one in peril that this great Void you want us all to accept will give you comfort.

    Do Atheist believe in helping the less fortunate? Or are they FEBUS (F Everybody But Us)? Take your billboard money and sponsor family with a terminally ill child that can no longer afford treatment. If you are a Humanist, the take the money and help other humans instead of wasting it trying to pull people out of their "closet." Take care of your own closet. I'll take care of mine.Should we meet, what shall I say when you sneeze? God Bless you, whether you want it or not.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:25 am |
  2. MormonChristian

    More people have been killed in the wars and movements inspired by Atheists (Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, WWI, Tojo, Ho Chi Min, etc.) than in all the religious inspired conflicts combined. Over 100 million in the last century alone as we came into a new status of "reason".

    Ironically as we have become more enlightened, we have also created weapons of mass destruction and fought over wider swaths of the earth's resources and people. Where will this activist brand of Atheism sponsored by Stiefel, Hutchens et al lead us? Will they be satisfied to unify and socialize non believers or will they find new forms of hatred and discrimination? In Communist Russia you could be jailed or sent to labor camps for religious participation.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • mb2010a

      You do realize that Hiltler, as well as many others on your list, were in fact Christians...

      March 24, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Ken

      Hitler and Stalin were Christians, but nice try.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Jon

      Please. Do your research. Hitler was never an atheist. He was raised catholic, aspired to the priesthood, and considered himself a "soldier for Christ"

      Hitler used religion to take his people to war and make them commit horrible atrocities. His assault on Jews was a holy crusade in his eyes. He was "avenging for god" against the race that killed Jesus.

      Stalin, who was also raised a catholic, revived the Russian Orthodox Church when he came to power.

      Pol Pot studied at a catholic school for eight years, and attended a Buddhist monastery. He and his inner circle were Buddhists. Pol Pot was just plain crazy. He killed everybody, including atheists.

      No one can ever wash the blood off the hands of religion, though I've noticed a lot of people try to wipe it on atheism lately.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  3. bigfoot

    I believe in God. And I believe that American Christians are about as far removed from him as one edge of the universe is from the other.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • mb2010a


      March 24, 2013 at 7:47 am |
  4. Get Real People

    I have never once in my life heard a non-believer cramming their beliefs down another person's throat. Religion is just another money maker for those in charge and another way for the sheep in this world to follow. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    March 24, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • Fundamentally Free

      Raised by Bible thumpers, my own humanistic freedom has developed just like Todd's, while reading the Bible. Just can't wrap my mind around one book being the only and best source of truth. Really? The admonishments by other posters only proves his point. Keep 'em coming.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • terri

      Really? I guess you have never heard of the Gay Rights Movement....

      March 24, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • terri

      And the politicians who say Baaaaaaa.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:51 am |
  5. Pierre

    German philosopher Nietzsche once said:
    Let us make no mistake – great minds are skeptical. The strength and the freedom which arise from exceptional power of thought express themselves in skepticism. A mind which aspires to great things and is determined to achieve them is of necessity skeptical.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:23 am |
  6. Get Real People

    Sorry..that last comment was directed to Joe Blow..I mean Joe Beggs.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:21 am |
  7. Joel Edge

    Short story: Rich boy starts own religion.
    Check back when he's in fifties. He'll probably have a different take.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • G-Man

      What are you afraid of Joel? Sounds to me like you are the one who has gotten older and wanting confort. Ashamed of your past?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  8. larry marvin darst

    hopefully he will see Jesus someday as a friend... It must be very lonely in this world to believe we are alone. Someday i believe we will all see Jesus.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • Gaunt

      Thor says Jesus was a pus sy. he just surrendered and went to his death like a nothing, not even fighting for himself or his beliefs. Thor says thats the actions of a loser.

      Thur > your god.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • terri

      To Gaunt: If you read the Bible, you would learn that the Jews rejected Jesus because He did not fit the "mold" they were looking for. They wanted someone who would crush their oppressors. Because God is not a piece of clay for you or I to mold, it's His rules, not yours or mine.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • Nick

      Every night, before I go to bed, I go to my window, look up at the sky, and give Jesus a big ol' middle finger. And do you know what difference it makes whether I do this to a 2000 year old middleeastern tribesman who, in a book of shoddily written plagiarized desert fairy tales, apparently sacrificed himself for my sins, or whether I do it to bugs bunny? Absolutely none. Why? Because both bugs bunny and the biblical Jesus are fictional characters. Of course I would never do that to bugs bunny. On the one hand bugs bunny makes me laugh while on the other, Jesus just wants my money.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Aeros

      What a horrible prophet. He asked everyone to leave no thought for tomorrow and prepare for an end that never came. He was put down for being one among many whacks running around the area stirring up trouble. And as he dies, according to his followers, he magnanimously forgives the whole world. Apparently everyone bears a debt able to be cleaned by blood sacrifice of a son to a father. So long as they accept this scape goat, they can have an eternity praising the dear leader.

      It's masochistic.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  9. LWJR

    Pied Piper. Love of money is the root of all evil. God is not worried about gnats biting His ankles.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:19 am |
  10. obvious

    The fool has said in his heart "there is no God." To "lose" faith due to Duke is to have not had a real faith in the first place.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • Gaunt

      Zealot logic.

      "Our holy book has a passage that says that if you do not believe in our holy book you must be a fool. Thus by any rational logic, you must be a fool for not believeing in my creation myth because my creation myth says so."

      Another fantastic example of zealot logic in action.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • terri

      It is not zealot logic, it's a belief.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • JC

      Zealot logic = belief. No doubt about it.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  11. Debulator

    It's not that Stiefel doesn't believe in God, but at his core, he is angry at Him. He is foolish enough to think he is somehow hurting or manipulating God. Good luck with that Stiefel. It will never work, but go ahead, spend your millions, stroke your ego and waste your time. As for me, I'll stick with the anchor known as Christ.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • RossC

      There are numerous gods that aren't believed in anymore. The Abrahamic god of the Jews, Christians and Muslims will be added to the list in due course.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      Well then stick with him! You have the complete right too! No one is ASKING you to turn sides! That's the beauty of atheism! We Atheists don't need to "TRY" to convince ANYONE that god (or Jesus) doesn't exist. Your religion does that for us! Just look at your religious history and tell me, who are the persecutors again?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • terri

      Ross C. – Your view is proof that the Bible is true. Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it. Read about Noah. Read about Sodom and Gomorrah. Whenever a civilization eliminates God, they are eventually obliterated (by God) because God will never allow evil to take over completely. He gives people lots and lots of chances but some people refuse to learn.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Lael

      You didn't get it. He can't be angry at something he doesn't believe to exist.
      Try to picture this – since the day of your birth the society was telling you that you'd instantly die if you went outside without a anti-light-radiation protecting suit. You believe them, even that there is no proof any light radiation outside is dangerous. One day when you're older you meet a man without his suit. He's standing outside. You come closer to this guy, intrigued by the way he fooled the death. He tells you there is no point of wearing those suits, there is no deadly radiation outside, you can take off this uncomfortable suit which stops you from fully experiencing the world. You're shocked and still afraid, but that's the proof, right there in front of your eyes. He has got no suit worn on himself and he lives. You have never seen unquestionable evidence of your old belief. Your viewpoint has changed, now you see it, you're taking off your helmet and breathing. Nothing. You're taking off your whole suit... and you're still alive. The only difference is that you feel way more convenient and comfortable now, you feel warm light on your skin.
      It's an amazing feeling. You decide you're going to spread the word about it, to make everyone know they don't need those suits. Many people see you as liar, heretic. Even thought they see your evidence, undeniable evidence, they spent their whole lives wearing those suits, they don't want to accept it was pointless. It would make them look stupid, it would break their orderly world. There are people of opened mind, they want to check it on their own, they see you were right and they are grateful. And there are of course people who doubted about the need of wearing protective suits, but were too afraid to take them off, so now they just confirmed this theory.

      So the question is do you do this because you're angry at the radiation or because you want to give others a chance to decide whether they want to wear this suit?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • sensorrhea

      Christ makes a terrible anchor. Don't you know he floats? Read your Bible!

      March 24, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  12. MormonChristian

    Absolutely people should not discriminate in the name of anything. What I find troubling in this brand of Atheism is that there is reverse hatred and discrimination. No one will ever join any movement fully engaged by being told they are idiots or don't use their intellect – which is what I read and hear from many Atheists today. They are angry at those of us who believe in God. Likewise, the Evangelicals and Baptists who hate Mormons and say we are not Christians will never win me over through hatred. Mormons should not discriminate nor think they will gain friends or converts through discrimination.

    Let us all choose what we want to believe and how to live our lives without disrespect, even if we don't agree. Stiefel's activism is not just about gathering like minded Atheists which would be fine. It belittles, misrepresents, causes further division, anger and hatred.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      Actually it doesn't. Like I said before in an earlier comment your religions history does all the talking for us atheists. We don't need to try to convince anyone that organized religion is wrong. Just look at history, look at how many persecutions have taken place, how many wars have been fought, how many different groups are STILL persecuted today in the name of "Jesus". Time you guys got a taste of your own medicine, and unlike you religious zealots, we atheists will do it peacefully!

      March 24, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • A

      So as long as Atheists are "good" atheists that don't put up a stink when you put "In God We Trust" on their money, you accept their existence.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  13. terri

    Mr. Stiefel seems unaware of the text in the Bible where God says, "Come, let us reason".... Concluding that God does not exist is a weak solution to the gap intellectually minded people experience when they don't find answers (or support for their questions) from other believers...Given the intermarrying of God's people with pagans over the centuries, it should not come as a surprise that stories became intermixed and different versions resulted...The Catholic church is filled with paganism. Mr. Stiefel should try Protestantism. See amazingdiscoveries.com. Walter Veith.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Gaunt

      Ah, zealot logic.

      because there is a passage in isaiah which says 'Come let us reason together', that automatically means the Bible is founded on reason and logic.

      Perfect example of zealot (logic in action.

      Oh, and the pagan stores predate the bible, the Bible just flat out stole them. Not even close to your somewhat desperate rationalization.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • terri

      Gaunt: Comparing the dates the Bible was written with the date that a pagan story was written is no evidence of when or where the story originated. Relying solely on "scientific evidence" for truth is proved wrong over and over again.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • trdahl

      Relying on evidence is wrong? Ok, lets look to a book of fairy tales for our answers instead. That makes sense.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Mike

      "Relying solely on "scientific evidence" for truth is proved wrong over and over again."

      If you meant that,in the search for truth, science has often discovered it was wrong and subsequently revised theroies to reflect this new knowledge then yes, it has been proved wrong over and over again. In fact, that's how new knowledge and understanding is gained.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  14. william

    Well it is no wonder he is an athesist. He was raised catholic. It is not about a "religion" or "affiliation" It is only about Jesus's grace and mercy on the cross for YOU! ALL OF YOU! even this joker. When Todd comes to the end of himself he will discover he does not posses all he needs. Jesus's gift is free, it has to be, because if we needed to earn it who would stand? not me I know that. Thank you Jesus for this life, breath, and spirit. I'll be home soon!


    March 24, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • P.J.

      I love how "Christians" bash other religions. Wow.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      Atheist points! All said in this one comment. Be kind and love other religions, except if they're catholic. What a hypocrite!

      March 24, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • terri

      P.J. Christians "bash" other religions because God says He is a jealous God who does not share His omnipotence with other false gods.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:47 am |
  15. bigfoot

    Like Pi, I believe "religion is a house with many rooms". Atheism is possibly the attic. Or maybe the laundry room.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:10 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 24, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • Wakeupplease

      Ignorance and lies are not good for children. Pushing your agenda on innocent children is not healthy.... you want women to not have abortions because you say the child has no "choice" but as soon as the child is born you start your brainwashing without giving the child a choice..... We as adults are know using our "CHOICE" to change the dirty way we were brought up and free ourselves from the non-sense of religion.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Prayer?

      Next time a family member gets cancer.... just pray for a speedy recovery.... Don't use Science or Medicine if you are just giving credit to prayer?? Silly Silly Silly

      March 24, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • theRulingClass

      A long time ago I discovered I was god. I found that when I prayed I was talking to myself.

      March 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • jrose

      But if God's will is fixed, then isn't prayer an attempt to "change" God's will?

      April 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  17. Unsworth

    If God does not exist according to this person then why is such a huge effort made against something that is of no consequence – that supposedly is not there anyway?

    March 24, 2013 at 7:09 am |
    • bigfoot

      It is because many believers won't simply live and let live.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • the AnViL™

      while god doesn't exist, the ignorant, idiotic, malevolent, bigoted, divided, hate-inspired followers of monotheistic religions do.

      get it, spanky?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Gaunt

      Silly question. God doesnt exist, but the influence, hate and dogmatic fanaticism of the zealots still does. Campaigns like this demonstrate that there is another alternative to unquestioning blind faith, one of reason, logic and science.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • ymeman

      Because the many laws they pass based on something that isn't real affects us.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • Mike Evans

      Simply because people love their sin. They do not believe because they love the darkness rather than the light. No one likes to have their sins exposed. GOD does just that to each one of us, through the written word and through His messengers. Some repent, but most do not, This is nothing new. Jesus said that few get into the Kingdom of heaven, while the many do not.
      Some unbelievers are just plain oblivious to this, or simply don't care. Others justify it, while an increasing number of people are becoming very hostile to the Gospel message. They know the truth about God and the judgment that is coming. Again, Jesus said it would be this way. He came not to bring peace, but a sword, because His very name divides the masses. He forces everyone to make a decision, and each day we live is a testimony to His grace.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • are122

      Funny are people that say God does not exist according to science. They obviously haven't bothered to read much from the community of physicists. Not all physicists believe rocks and balls of gas can come up with the mathematics and laws that govern the universe. Logic (according to physicist Paul Davies) concludes there had to be a creator. Even if not religious Einstein wanted to know the mind of God. Maybe science is just easier for them to spell and an all inclusive word for things they don't understand.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • tepeters

      His ads are non aimed at the non-existent god they are aimed at the religious who are the intolerant shoving theitr beliefs in our faces everyday and trying to make their doctrines the law of the land.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      @tepeters Well said sir! I'm an atheist and if God came down to me and showed me his existence I would respond simply with "Cool man! Right on!, now could you stop the people who follow your word from trying to MAKE me follow it!?"

      March 24, 2013 at 7:35 am |
  18. TyD

    This person is a spoiled rich kid who does not know what he wants to be when he grows up. Folks, I don't really care what he believes, or of you believe him, or whatever. He is trying to use this movement as a cover to separate you from a dollar. He thought about starting a business – and decided this one was more lucrative. He's another sort of tele-evangelist, just one claiming not to believe because that market is pretty much wide open right now.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:09 am |
    • greyhairedpete

      If you don't care what he believes, why did you take the time to comment?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • tom

      and how rich is the catholic church??

      March 24, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      @Tyd "He is trying to use this movement as a cover to separate you from a dollar."

      Remind me please sir, how is that any different from any other organized religion in the world?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:37 am |
  19. Ted

    It will be proof that discrimination has ended when it finally becomes possible for an openly atheistic or agnostic candidate to be elected to a national office in this country. Thank you, Mr. Stiefel, for your support.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:09 am |
    • terri

      Actually, when Godless people run the country (into ruin and devastation), it will be proof that God does exist and man needs Him for guidance.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • the AnViL™

      terri – in a gross display of ignorance, spat out into the aether:

      Actually, when Godless people run the country (into ruin and devastation), it will be proof that God does exist and man needs Him for guidance.

      how many atheists presidents have we had?
      how many bodies of congress were completely atheist?

      funny stuff!

      March 24, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • wicked smart

      At Terri: Just stop now, you are making the believers look very very ignorant. Which is typically par for the course.

      Just saying

      March 24, 2013 at 7:39 am |
  20. Danny

    I personally know someone who claimed to be an atheist. Back in 1992 when hurricane Andrew was tearing the roof off his house, he embraced his family and started praying to God. By some divine intervention, they made it through the night.
    Let's hope you and those you love are not put in that position to finally open your heart and realize that yes, there is something out there bigger than you.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • Beffie

      Or maybe they just made it through the night. Period.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • Gaunt

      Wow, one guy prayed to god, and his house wasnt destroyed b the hurricane? That MUST be evidence of God!

      Assuming that NONE of the 200,000 people who DID have their homes destroyed prayed to god as well.

      This is the staggering arrogance of the zealot. An earthquake kills 300,000 people, the zealot says nothing. A kid is found in the rubble alive a day later, the zealot proclaims it a miracle. (The miracle being that God only massacred 299,999 people as opposed to 300,000)

      March 24, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • terri

      To everyone who missed the point completely: Those who claim no belief in God frequently experience a sudden, inexplicable change of heart when faced with impending doom.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      @ terri, Actually I know countless people who are atheists, who have made it out alive out of some horrible disaster and they have never told me once that it was because they prayed or because it was the graces of God.
      So....you don't really know what the F your talking about?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Funny

      Terri–The same "God" that caused the Hurricane that killed so many people just to use it as a source of conversion?? Punishment for non-believers?

      Here is the short answer of what happen:
      Mother Nature

      March 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • Kelly Hildmaf

      It's so easy to blame God when things don't work out for you.
      Just like it is to hurt someone who loves you when you are angry.

      Why? Because we know they will be there no matter what.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:45 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.