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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    March 24, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Russ

      Can you provide an example, please?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • .

      salvation is found in prayer.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Russ

      So we've been told...

      March 24, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • Yorgos

      Prayer is like 'peeing in the wind'!

      March 24, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • One one

      Jesus asked for human sacrifice:

      Judges 11:29. “29 Then the Spirit of Yahweh came on Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over to the children of Ammon.
      30 Jephthah vowed a vow to Yahweh, and said, "If you will indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand,
      31 then it shall be, that whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it shall be Yahweh's, and I” “will offer it up for a burnt offering."
      32 So Jephthah passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them; and Yahweh delivered them into his hand.
      33 He struck them from Aroer until you come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and to Abelcheramim, with a very great slaughter. So the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
      34 Jephthah came to Mizpah to his house; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances: and she was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter.
      35 It happened, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are one of those who trouble me; for I have opened my mouth to Yahweh, and I can't go back.” “36 She said to him, "My father, you have opened your mouth to Yahweh; do to me according to that which has proceeded out of your mouth, because Yahweh has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, even on the children of Ammon."
      37 She said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may depart and go down on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions."
      38 He said, "Go." He sent her away for two months: and she departed, she and her companions, and mourned her virginity on the mountains.
      39 It happened at the end of two months, that she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she was a virgin."

      March 24, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • ldavid69

      How come when supposed prayer does not 'work' , your god gets a pass. Just study for the damn test... lol

      March 24, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • peppe

      Data please???

      March 24, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • colorado

      SCIENCE The only real threat to religion is science the more we learn the more irrelevant religion becomes

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • TheQuietAtheist

      You have to love a god that accepts human sacrifices!

      March 24, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  2. Mike

    If he wants to deny God that's his right. I can only borrow an old cliche ... If he's wrong, it will be Hell to pay."

    March 24, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      Mike: You've fallen for the logical fallacy referred to as Pascal's Wager. That's assuming that there are only two possible alternatives: there is NO god, or there is a god, and that god is the Christian God. However, there are an infinite number of other possibilities. For example, what if there is a god, but this god rewards critical thought and punishes blind belief? What if the God is Thor, and he's ticked off because you didn't worship him?
      It's not either/or.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • linuxfreakus

      There are about 730 religions in the world, and only in few of them would there be "hell to pay" if you were wrong... many of them also have severe consequences for not choosing the correct one. So in order for your statement to apply, you'd also have to be sure that you chose the correct religion out of the 730 or so... although there are many variants too... 4000+ sects, so your chances of being right are pretty slim.

      Binary logic blinds us from how poor a foundation for thought it can be.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Doug

      Yes, fear is a great reason to be faithful. Deny all facts around you, and just admit that you're scared of what you don't know, while us non-religious folks grow our minds and humanity's body of knowledge so we can make the world a better place.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • vgerdj

      Mike, you believe in a god and at the same time a hell.The insanity that you can holds those two ideas in your head, is, well, insane; and that is what led me to Atheism. After dismissing a hell, the rest is easy. Old testament, rehashed stories from neighboring tribes, god loves everyone but jews are special. New testament, written to fit ot prophecies. But the final clincher was all the human frailties that your god has: jealous, vindictive, genocidal, oppressive, sacrificial, petty, ....

      March 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Todd Stiefel is a rational man who does wonderful work for humanity. I agree with him completely about belief.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • .

      too bad you will both be in your own solitary hell for eternity.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      @ no name – what a lovely thought! Your own solitary hell for eternity. Does it allow you to feel better about yourself, holding such vicious, hateful beliefs?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • angeson

      We'll be praying for you both but dont hold your breath, The 10 commandments are pretty clear sinner.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • jungleboo

      @ . Your own hell is upon you right now, spending this beautiful Life dishing out hatred for happy people. Foretelling doom and gloom is not a talent, nor a skill. It is a perverse pleasure in wrecking the Now by unloading your own insecurities about Existence. Try being happy Now. Chances are really high that Being Happy Now is the purpose of Existence.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  4. mark

    How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," [fn] and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

    Good Luck Fella! Jesus loves you while you are breathing and still have a chance.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • Scott

      Religion is for the weak and the dumb.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • mikemikemike3

      There is about a billion people in the islamic faith that disagree with you. And, another billion and a half or the oriential religions who do also. Your gawd is gonna be very busy throwing about 3/4 of the world in your version of hellll. Nice guy....

      March 24, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • .

      By denying God or following a false god that 2/3 of humanity will be condemning itself, including you.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • mark

      Scott Jesus loves you, he is standing at the door knocking let him in! I was an atheists once and he changed my life.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Scott

      Sorry Mark, I looked, nobody there.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • skytag

      mark, if anyone changed your life it was you.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Prove your fairytale-laden claims here, pal. This oughtta be good!

      March 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  5. Tkp353

    It is written that there will be a great falling away from the true faith, and we are seeing more and more of that from Christiian America. It is also written that there will be a great movement towards the truth of Christ in the end days. I just pray that all nonbelievers come to Christ before the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord. Anyone can choose to believe or not...that is our free will...but I would rather live my simple life happy, knowing there is a God, than living it without Him in my life...only to find out that once I stand before Him that I can't go back and that "sorry" isn't going to cut it when He says "I never knew you". Please forgive those God, who would doubt Your existence...for they indeed know not what they do.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • Scott

      It was all down hill after you were forced to give up slavery.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • mikemikemike3

      "It is written...." who wrote 'what' and 'when' and based upon which gawd? Did your god write with a pen, pencil or a computer/printer? Did he write in English or some other language? Quoting from Lawrence of Arabia, "It is not written!"

      March 24, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • JH1

      So what are you going to do if you end up before Allah or Krishna or Zeus or a the plethora of others? If a god exists, you'd be blindfolded hoping that you threw the dart in the general direction of the board that had the right god somewhere on it.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • mark

      JH1...Even if your post made sense, better to be standing with a dart than shooting blanks. Whoops!

      March 24, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • JH1

      @ Mark

      Better to actually be living a significant, purposeful, evidential life based in reality than blindly following the tenets of a bronze age book in order to have your chance at winning the afterlife lottery that you don't even know exists in the first place.

      I mean I could come in here spouting how you're all going to be undoubtedly zapped by Zeus for denying his existence. Of course that's crazy talk, but Christianity's hell and brimstone isn't, right?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Ponyboy Garfunkel

      Yes, for who could be more deserving of punishment, than those that doubt the existence of invisible beings.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • mark

      JH1...If Zeus's son walked earth merely 2000 years ago, and was tortured and killed for promoting love, and then rose again. I'd consider his concerns, but that didn't happen. Also it is awfully judgemental to assume I don't live a purposeful life because I have faith.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Trogdor

      Or it could be that [insert other religion here] is the true one, or that there is no true religion at all. In which case all of that praying and believing will have done you no good; indeed, you will have wasted much of your precious time on earth.
      To put it in another light, let's suppose what you say is actually true, and nonbelievers are damned. So, all of the followers of every other religion on earth are screwed? What of the simple farmer in some remote corner of the world, who never in his life had an opportunity to hear a single word of your religion? He's automatically damned? Does that sound like something a god who loves all of his children would do?
      One would think god, if he actually existed, if he actually cared about how humans live their lives and whether we believed he exists or not, would find a way to send us all some sort of -indisputable- sign once in a while, so that his supposedly beloved creations would not fall victim to the aforementioned pitfalls of faith as time and man may twist and muddle the story.
      The silence is deafening.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • mark

      The bible tells us we are not accountable for what we haven't heard which is why Paul moved to evangelize. I don's speak for God. Do you?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  6. Gysgtg

    This guy isn't an atheist. A true atheist could careless. This guy is a trouble maker and enjoys upsetting people. You all know the type someone who argues just to get a rise out of others.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • Yorgos

      What an idiotic, irrational response! Utter nonsense. Do you know him? Do you know his heart fool?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • JH1

      He's fighting against the injustice of having to live in a theocracy. ie. a place where people write laws based on ancient books from the Bronze Age backed up by zero evidence.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Gysgtg

      Now he is joined by two more fools. Awesome.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • JH1

      Yes, we are fools for wanting laws based in reality and on evidence as opposed to saying, "It's ok with us that you're implementing laws that the sky fairy told a bunch of bronze age people to follow."

      March 24, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Opportunity

      Perhaps it is a good opportunity for us believers in the Lord, Jesus Christ. We must not be like bulls, so headstrong as to go charging, head down and angry into a red cape any BS fighter can wave. Oh yes, I agree the word "atheist" is quite the elastic term in today's world. And here is a man who has the luxury of knowing he has the sacraments and all his good work "just in case" he stands before God. Well, on the other side I am glad this is a perfect kind of leader for people who want to call themselves atheists for he encourages charity.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  7. mikemikemike3

    Why doesn't God(s) (whichever one he, she or it might be) just speak clearly and straight to the world right here, right now? That is, why is God's only way of communicating to humans through a bunch of old men with beards living in the desert 2000 years ago? Have God just come out and announce to the world "you better do this, that and the other thing" OR ELSE !! Or, is this some sort of a 'test' like he works for the SAT or ACT company?

    March 24, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Tkp353

      He doesn't want robots...He wants us to believe in that which is not seen...that is true faith.

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

      The antichrist will do exactly what you're asking God to do – it's found in 2 Thes Ch. 2. The true God is pleased by faith (Hebrews 11:6) in His word. He's looking for your trust. He gave you a Savior – Jesus Christ – and whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved (Romans 10:9-13). Will you have the faith to trust this plan? Or will you continue to believe that a bunch of old men in beards is foolishness (1 Cor 1:18-23).

      March 24, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • mikemikemike3

      Great- your gawd has condemed a huge majority of the world to burn in your version of helllll- nice guy ! If your gawd really cared and loved the people, why doesn't he/she/it speak in a clear voice and tell people what you are saying? Or, do you and we need to rely what some old guys with beards living in tents in the desert some 2000-3000 years ago 'think' they were told in a dream?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • mikemikemike3

      Great- your gawd has condemed a huge majority of the world to burn in your version of helllll- If your gawd really cared and loved the people, why doesn't he/she/it speak in a clear voice and tell people what you are saying? Or, do you and we need to rely what some old guys with beards living in tents in the desert some 2000-3000 years ago 'think' they were told in a dream?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:00 am |
  8. barbara451

    believing in fantasy is fine, if that is how you wish to live your life, but everyone does not believe in those stories. If someone tells me to have "a blessed day" and I tell them I do not need to be blessed, they get offended. Just keep your blessings to yourself. That is all we ask.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • Seth

      But by asking those of faith to keep their faith to themselves, you're asking them to break their faith – which commands Christians to go out into the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). If you truly don't care if we believe, then why throw a snide comment back about not needing a blessing. Just be polite and respond, "Have a good day." Take it for what it was – a show of kindness, not an attempt at indoctrination...and act in kind. Or continue to get upset and lash out every time someone talks about their faith. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • john

      very well said seth!

      March 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  9. spottedsharks

    Good for Stiefel!

    If god has the will to destroy evil but cannot, then he is not omnipotent.
    If god can destroy evil but lacks the will, then he is not good.
    If god is both willing and able to destroy evil, then where does evil come from?
    If god is neither willing nor able to destroy evil, then why call him god?

    March 24, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • colorado


      March 24, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • mikemikemike3

      Minor details. Some guys in robes who lived in tents in the sand 2000-3000 years ago had a dream and then someone a few hundreds years later wrote down what was said. And, if you don't believe it you go to hell. Wonderful !

      March 24, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  10. Realist

    Religion is a crutch for the weak. It has been my experience that some of the most religious people I have come across, are the most untrustworthy and lost.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • mark

      You mean like Paul, Peter, Stephen, James who all were tortured for their belief, but in their agony upset the the strong and powerful, and in their sacrifice Christ has been worshiped. The only crutch they needed was the one to walk out of prison for preaching love, after being shackled and beaten. God loves you too. It takes courage to believe and then put that belief in practice in a world that is increasingly all about the weakness of all about self.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  11. Emily

    What a stupid waste of money, no matter what you believe. Does he really think giving money to this "movement" is going to solve anything? No one cares if you're an atheist. How about donating to help others – advancing cancer research, or feeding the homeless, etc.? Do something worthwhile with the money instead of donating to some nebulous idea that really has no impact on society. Just another example of some rich kid who has no exposure to the real world.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • Twillin8

      Advancing a reason-based scientific world view will advance the causes of cancer research and world hunger. I would agree.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Scott

      I would imagine he's just a lot smarter than you.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • mikemikemike3

      If you actually read the story.... you would know that they are doing exactly that! Giving money to charitable organizations to help others.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Seth

      In response to tomnikoly, SixDegrees and Aaron Webb – the support of billboards that do nothing but tear down the faith of others is hardly a charitable cause.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  12. sharkusg

    A rich little atheist with too much time on his hands. How very inspiring....

    March 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  13. Remember Lot's wife

    Enough said.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • One one

      His virgin daughters as well

      March 24, 2013 at 7:44 am |
  14. Alfredo

    With all the religious nuts and sectarian violence in this world, it's good to see some believe in themselves rather than fictional tales....

    March 24, 2013 at 7:41 am |
  15. Farooq The Great

    What a waste of time and money.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • mikemikemike3

      You mean the building of enormous churches and mosques (etc) that cost tens of millions of dollars- of those who attend them who are living in huge houses with expensive cars that go on exotic vacations several weeks a year- all who worship someone who said to give everything (that is all) to the poor? Yup, you are correct !

      March 24, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  16. David

    He's a putz with nothing to do. No friends, girl friend, everyone is just there for his money. He knows this thats why he is lashing out.

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

      Actually, if you bother to read the article, it states that he has a wife.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "In total, the atheist groups raised $430,000 in 2012, including a $215,000 donation from Stiefel and his wife, Diana.
      He says his wife, whom he describes as a skeptical Christian, is someone who would fall within an expanded atheist movement."

      Your type of lazy, bigoted ignorance is exactly the type of thing that drives people from religion.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  17. 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 7:40 am |
  18. John

    More power to Todd Stifel, anyone who questions blind belief in any way, isn't bad. After all that was why the US was founded, the question at Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims et al.
    One thing I notice when the commentors write, like Danny at 7:08, a storm, everyone prays, God saves the day. Well, why don't people question that the same god caused the storm, created cancer, allowed Hitler and Ben lauden(?) to be born and take power. He caused volcanoes, earthquakes, storms and also allowed the planning and attack on 9/11. He created bad as well as good. If one believes one, then it follows that they should believe that he is responsible for evil also.
    Truth is the bible is a good read, the stories are dated but trying to be the best you can be is never a wrong belief to have.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • Ken

      He is king of the Idiots woot woot.

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

      If God existed he'd have the easiest job in the universe. He can do absolutely nothing and get credit when things go well, and great effort is expended giving him a pass when things go badly.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • mark

      John...He gave us free will, but in his mercy knowing that we would fail, He gave us Christ, and the chance to get to a place where none of what you pointed out exists. By the way we build houses under volcanoes, we build houses on unsettled ground near the coasts. Storms bring water from here to there where it is needed. We smoke which causes cancer....Free will John. Plus blame evolution for those tragedies, it was randomly placed in motion billions of years ago.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • John

      Dear Mark, you miss the point. Free will has nothing to do with it. He has the power to stop it, as the religious state. He is all knowing, all powerful. Yet he stands aside and does nothing. No thank you, if that is God, then I for one won't follow lockstep to his drum!
      Imagine, crossing a road and seeing a truck come speeding toward you. There is a 5 yo 2 steps in front of you. You stop and back up because you know it will hit you. You leave the 5 yo to their own, because, Free Will.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  19. Yorgos


    March 24, 2013 at 7:38 am |
  20. JMEF....Deism is better,

    A modern definition.
    Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine intervention.
    Some of the founding fathers were vocal deists that were determined that the nation not have a dominant religion, freedom of religion of course, but that religion be separate and distinct from the state. In todays world with so many extremes, factions and cults in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. warring with each other the idea of God as a non-intervening force should be attractive to all free thinkers. The God of I/We "do not know", it God, could be a phenomenon, scientific theory, uninvolved deity, combination of man-made deities, whatever; should appeal to atheists, agnostics and those with modest faith. We don't know, no one can prove their man-made God ever existed, until that impossibility becomes the truth let us all hope reason and logic prevails and religion disappears.

    March 24, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Atheist

      Deism is a lie. No gods, no masters.


      March 24, 2013 at 7:56 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.