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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“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. GOD

    Those of Us who are alseep and in denial, We have installed a preventative measure in creation to assure We do not destroy the Self.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  2. Ken from FL

    So, why is it on Christian holidays that CNN always somehow seems to run a story on the "belief" page about something such as this?

    March 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • .

      This story came out yesterday; that, and the four thousand Pope articles were getting awfully boring.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Terre08

      What religious holiday happens today on March 24th? Maybe you should go to calendar school instead of bible school?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  3. Pete/Ark

    Do they have a Money Man for people who don't CARE what other people CHOOSE to believe...send my million soon and I'll continue not caring

    March 24, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  4. GOD

    I am GOD. I've always been present. I am everything and everywhere simultaneously. I created everything because I am eternal and my nature is to always keep creating. I like to forget that I'm God because eternal life gets boring. So I keep creating and try to forget myself while I experience myself in my creation. But as always, eventually I remember that I am GOD. I am always here and present in all creation and I never sleep – I'm always aware. I can't die because death exists within Me just as the notion of nothingness exists within Me. There is no future and no past – everything is in my mind that I share with my creatures as mere memories (past) and logic. There is always strife within my creations because it's the byproduct of my will to forget Myself within creation. I am You, you are Me.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Answer


      Deluded yourself today.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Bobby

      What a load of crap. This is we it took us so long to invent cell phones. People believing in 1600 year old scripts and the tripwe this fool believes.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

      Chomp Chomp

      March 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Science

      DO you have a y you must because you posted something AYE ?

      And bible thumbers ! do you have a Y ?

      Was the bible around back then ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.


      No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

      Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.


      March 24, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • shelibea

      Thank you GOD for your post. You just might get through to just one who is still wondering. And thanks for your eternal patience with your Creations and their mouthiness!

      March 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  5. Helaine

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    March 24, 2013 at 6:44 pm |

      Evil is test of human choice, HE has power over hindu Lucifer ism, filthy secular ism of every thing, but HE honors HIS promise to human of their authority, HE will like human to defeat hinduism denial of truth absolute by himself.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Christian7

      We become wiser with hardships to over come and learn from them. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good...

      March 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I've seen this before. This part is not really true: "Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent." There may indeed be a Creator God- omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. But it may not care for us as we think we would care for ourselves if we were God, and it may not offer us anything at all. You couldn't call it malevolent, exactly. Just not what people want to believe in.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Helaine

      Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence

      March 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Helaine

      Tom, Tom, good point. Very true. I do love the quote though, as I do the other one I just posted.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "We become wiser with hardships to over come and learn from them."

      a. Hardship often results in bitterness, not learning.
      b. If hardship is used to teach wisdom, then those among us who lack wisdom the most should be experiencing more disproportionate hardship than the rest of us. Yet that is not the case.

      "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good..."

      Bill Gates should be among the poorest of us then.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • J

      God does not desire automatons. If He would step in at every wrong decision then there would be no free will. He does not want robots designed to love Him, He desires love through choice. Free will is the choice between God's will for people (good) and the lesser choice or not doing God's will (which leads to evil). I have seen your argument many times before and it comes from a lack of Biblical understanding. I for one am glad there is free will. And I encourage everyone to follow God's will. If we do evil/bad things will shrink in response (try the Sermon on the Mount, Mathew chapter 5).

      March 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Sue

      J, why should we try that instead of Leviticus, or some of the other violence in your bible.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • dsangiovanni

      Ty to read a little more before making judgement about something you do not know...

      March 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      The christian god is omniscient. That means he knows EVERYTHING, including how your life will turn out. The outcome of your life exists in his mind long before you are ever born, and there is nothing you can do to deviate from it. So how the hell does "free will" exist under such a paradigm?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • J


      Free will and predestination are two different things:

      I have a choice to choose A or B.
      God knows I will choose B because God is eternal or outside time. Think of a parade, it start at point x and end at point y. God being eternal and outside the 4th dimension sees the parade from a hot air balloon floating above the parade. He sees what is going to happen before it does or that I will choose B, but that does not change my power of choice, it just means God knows what I am going to choose beforehand (please forgive this example it is not perfect as we 3rd dimensional beings can’t full illustrate or understand eternity or omnipresence). I hope this illustrates more clearly the difference between free will and predestination/fate.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  6. WayOutThere

    As an atheist, I have never felt discriminated against in any way. Yes, people have tried to convince me there is a God many times, just like people have tried to convince me who to vote for. Or that eating meat is bad and cruel. Or that cats are better than dogs as pets. And some of these people refused to associate with me because of one of these differing beliefs. I do not call that discrimination, I call it 'annoying people.'

    March 24, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Nah

      way: "I do not call that discrimination, I call it 'annoying people.'"

      Don't worry. Obnoxious atheism will be its own death.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Answer

      "Don't worry. Obnoxious atheism will be its own death."

      ===Now you see why the religious are dying. You said the right word: OBNOXIOUS.

      For too long. See ya religious tools. Good riddance.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • J

      Thanks for a honest comment Wayoutthere. From my own experiences I also feel that atheists are not discriminated against in America/Europe. However, I am on the other side of the faith isle and believe in God, so I come with my own bias. Thanks for your input.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I have gay friends who are believers and gay friends who are nonbelievers. The ones who are nonbelievers tell me that it was much harder to "come out" as an atheist than as a gay person and that they were much more worried about the consequenes of being an atheist than of being gay. That should tell us something. I know people who have lost their jobs. I and another person had our lives threatened and our cars and homes vandalized. Sure, it's just stupid bigotry, but it exists.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  7. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Unfounded and conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • clarity

      There has never been any credible evidence put forth to support the initial claim by religion for the existence of God. Therefore, to date, no one that I know of has been able to prove its existence. No need for anyone to disprove any negative, since the initial claim has fallen flat. It's easy to say that it can't be disproved either, but on the same level as saying you can't disprove that Tinkerbell exists.

      Regardless of the possible existence of a preacher man who made some headlines, there is plenty of reason to question the validity of the gospel accounts in the Bible. The anonymously-written gospels were thought by many to be copies/variations of earlier pagan stories. The charges against them was sufficient enough that several early Christian apologists came up with this whacky notion of 'diabolical mimicry' – that the devil disseminated the supposedly "fake" stories before the "real" gospel accounts. How about that plagiarism in reverse, courtesy of your neighborhood devil.

      Christians took some rehashed folklore and just made it sound even fishier.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • clarity

      Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

      Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

      John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

      I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

      Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

      If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

      Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

      All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Christian7

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Nah

      clarity: "There has never been any credible evidence put forth to support the initial claim by religion for the existence of God."

      Clearly you know nothing about theism, philosophy or even atheism. If you did, you wouldn't say something so silly.

      "Therefore, to date, no one that I know of has been able to prove its existence."

      Your own ignorance of the subject has no bearing on whether a god exists.

      "No need for anyone to disprove any negative, since the initial claim has fallen flat."

      And you conclude with two fallacies. You may as well argue, "There has been no evidence of X, therefore X does not exist".

      Please learn some logic.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Nah

      clarity: "Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?"

      First, arguments from authority are fallacious.

      Second, arguments from authority that are predicated on ad hominems are fallacious to the nth degree.

      If this counts as deep thinking for you, please avoid having opinions all together.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Shout-Out: logicked


      March 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Scienec

      Hey Nah good reading for you maybe ?

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.


      Creation/ID LOST !

      March 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "Clearly you know nothing about theism, philosophy or even atheism. If you did, you wouldn't say something so silly."

      Now THIS is how "deep thinkers" demonstrate that arguments are fallacious.

      I am being sarcastic, just in case I need to clarify that comment.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • .

      "If this counts as deep thinking for you, please avoid having opinions all together."
      Says the person who wishes to quash free speech of a dissenting opinion. How very Hitler-esque to try and do such. Not in this country, pal.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • clarity

      clarity: "There has never been any credible evidence put forth to support the initial claim by religion for the existence of God."
      nah: "Clearly you know nothing about theism, philosophy or even atheism. If you did, you wouldn't say something so silly."

      => Then, O wise one, tell us what you think is credible evidence for the existence of God, that supports the claims made to date, by, oh let's take Christianity.

      clarity: "Therefore, to date, no one that I know of has been able to prove its existence."
      nah: "Your own ignorance of the subject has no bearing on whether a god exists."

      => And that's why I said "that I know of". I didn't claim that a God doesn't exist. I claim that to date, no credible evidence has been brought to my attention that would convince me. So convince me. (And I am assuming you are not being condescending and that by "Your own ignorance", you simply mean that there is always a possbility for something to exist somewhere that we are unaware of. 🙂 )

      clarity: "No need for anyone to disprove any negative, since the initial claim has fallen flat."
      nah: "And you conclude with two fallacies. "

      => Another poster was indicating that one would need to disprove a negative for one to deny the existence of God. I don't disagree, but am merely pointing out that the evidence presented thus far falls short – and smells fishy (see original post). Perhaps you should enlighten me on how that equates to two fallacies.

      nah: "You may as well argue, "There has been no evidence of X, therefore X does not exist".

      => Welll then you misunderstood, since by now you should see that is not what I am arguing.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  8. J

    the AnViL™, an atheist who has posted under this article, expresses the tolerance I expect to come from the atheists in the future.
    You are the poster boy for what I fear with the rise of a group of people who see religious beliefs as idiotic and abhorrent.
    You group is nothing but an organized and godless group much like the communists before who killed 10s of millions.
    Your new order does not only run counter to the religious establishment, it desires the overthrow of religion in general. For those who have faith and understand that something from nothing or introduction of information from chaos is absurd ( those who believe in a creator/God), you should be concerned about the current atheist movement. There is no discrimination against atheists that I am aware of, no turning down of jobs, no rights being denied. This movement is based of falicies and is hostile to those who believe in something more than CERN.

    Let me leave you with a remark from the AnViL™ which encompasses the current atheist movement (not those athiests who see others belief in god as something personal or plausible, not just for them):
    "tolerance of religious idiocy has to end – and it is."

    This coming from those claiming to be discriminated against and desiring less "discrimination". 2

    March 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      But religious beliefs ARE idiotic and abhorrent! Time to call a spade a spade. If adults ran around, saying that Santa Claus was real, and that they were devoting their lives to Santa Claus, you would be justified in calling their beliefs idiotic. What is the difference?

      March 24, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Almost every sentence you've written there is riddled with fallacies. But I'll just pick one to criticize, because I have neither the time nor the charity to waste on someone who embraces illogic so wholeheartedly.

      "There is no discrimination against atheists that I am aware of...."

      So what you are saying is if you haven't heard of something, it doesn't exist? What are you? The walking compendium of all knowledge, that all things you do not know must therefore not exist? When did god grant you omniscience?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • J


      Thank you for an ad hominem attack. You brought nothing to the table. I am not an atheist, thus I am not bringing any example of me personally coming under assault for my atheist belief to the table. I have never witnessed an atheist being discriminated more thant any other person with faith. In fact, I feel like you are assaulting me for my own beliefs and believe this is how the new atheist movement runs.

      I have a great idea! Why don't you as an atheist illustrate how you are discriminated against?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Answer


      Name a state to your knowledge that disqualifies an atheist from a position. For example -like- in being a governor?

      Can you do that research and tell us?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • J

      Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear,

      Here is the difference:
      I personally believe that a true atheist (not an agnostic who leans towards no belief in God, but believes it is unlikely, who emphatically says that God does not exist is lying to himself/others and is not a true follower of scientist. Lets remember that many of the past great scientists like Sir Issac Newton were God fearing and very successful scientists ( he wrote over 1 MILLION words on a book of the Bible – Revelations). A belief in God does not make you unscientific; however, I would argue that someone who denies the possibility of the existence of God is biased beyond what a scientist and or philosopher should be.

      To raise another point:
      I personally believe that those who claim that information (which is the make up of everything we know in the entire universe) came from chaos is absurd. However, I am not out shouting, “atheism and its idiocy must be overthrown!”, like so many atheists in their current movement say about religion. I believe that one does not have to destroy the other to exist and that gentlemen can disagree and have discourse of those disagreements. Perhaps you can soften the edge of the current atheist movement, so that we can have true scientific and philosophic discourse, instead of trying to topple an entire system because atheist fear religion.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • J


      "Name a state to your knowledge that disqualifies an atheist from a position. For example -like- in being a governor?

      Can you do that research and tell us?"

      Name a state where the law still states that horse theft is punishable by death. Just because a law is in a book somewhere, be it obscure or not, does not mean it is being enforced or even known about.

      Second, look up Pete Stark, the first atheist congressman.

      Third, elected officials are there to represent the elected, which does not mean if there are not more atheists in the government that it points to discrimination, but to the vast majority of US citizens holding religious beliefs. 1

      March 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      J, if religion were a harmless pastime or eccentricity, non-believers would have little to say about it. But it encourages people to be intolerant and ignorant in ways that are dangerous to the society, even the world, we live in. We can be civil, of course. But religion must give way – either go away altogether or become something we don't need to consider, as we do now, one of the principal evils we face.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "I would argue that someone who denies the possibility of the existence of God is biased beyond what a scientist and or philosopher should be."
      .......................and then goes onto present NO reasons whatsoever. Brilliant thinking!!!!!!!!!!!!

      And where is the ad hominem attack? I clearly state that my problem is with your arguments, and I pick one to criticize, laying the blame for not critcizing any more than that solely at my own feet. I then go on to point out the assumptions that would need to be true for that statement of yours that I do criticize to be correct (which is an unusually charitable thing for me to do, I should add). Do you have a rebuttal to my criticism to offer besides a declaration of unwarranted butt-hurt?

      March 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • J

      @ Tank

      I think you have a reading comprehension problem. If you actually read what I said you would realize I brought up a couple very valid issues with atheism, above and beyond what you represent – the new hostile and disrespectful atheist movement (I am not encompassing all atheists with this statement, only the new trend that I am seeing).

      March 24, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      " I have never witnessed an atheist being discriminated more than any other person with faith."

      And I'm asking you: so WHAT? Do you possess the All-Seeing Eye? Do you see all things under the sun? Just because you don't see something happening doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • J


      Once again, you are bringing nothing to the table. I keep hearing of claims of discrimination against atheists. You keep saying I am wrong when I say I have personally and or do not think atheists are discriminated against anymore thant those with faith. However, instead of giving me examples I keep hearing you mocking me. Kind of funny and sad on your end at the same time.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      I have pointed out your erroneous reasoning to you. There is nothing valid in any of your comments. I have brought nothing to the table, because I have made no arguments, but merely evaluated yours. You, on the other hand, have brought a steaming pile of cow dung to the table, and have been judged to be a person of incredibly low thinking ability.

      Good day.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • J


      Last respons to you tonight:
      ANYONE who reads my discourse with you will realize your inability or unwillingness to engage in any real discussion and your inability to put forth any facts, whatsoever.

      Good night and please remember you are the future generation, as scary as that might be.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • J

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Tom, first, thank you for not ca lling names and being overtly ho stile.

      However, I do have a prob lem with your logic:

      In today’s age there is no pope pulling the strings and cruc ifying unb elievers or those who believe the sun rotates around the Earth. So, I do not agree with your assessment that A) all religion, in all forms, and on all levels encourages people to be intol erant and ig norant or to be more fair to your point that religion in general leads to these things anymore than I believe that the removal of religion will cure these kinds of issues B) that religion is inherently dang erous to society.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • J

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Ma ny ath eists believe that relig ion is the root of most of so ciety’s prob lems. That if it is rem oved a new era of hum an und erstanding and peac e will em erge. I only need to point to the hi story of the Sov iet Un ion, Com munist Ch ina, and current N orth Ko rea to ill ustrate that the rem oval of rel igion is not the answer to the prob lems you brought up. The dea th tolls in these move ments (very ath eistic, not that I am eq uating atheism with this kind of tra gedy, but do want to ill ustrate the com mon factor is man and our hu bris, not religion as the prob lem. However, atheism mix ed with evo lution can be a pow erful moving force, see Ado lph Hit ler/T hird Re ich). In fact, I am not a sup porter of org anized religion, but am a believer in God. A belief in God is not the anti thesis of science, especially in today’s world in the West.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • J

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One part 3

      More discourse should be had as apposed to name calling and calls for top pling the other. Making religion/belief in God the bo ogey man is ignoring the real problems like children being raised without parental support/guidance and poverty. When there is cris is and great division then there is a open door for the next demago gue to enter like Stalin, Hi tler, or insert Blo ody Mary.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • J

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Sorry, Tom, cens oring on CNN is terr ible. I had to cut my response into three parts and add spaces in many of my words. When did it come to the point where we can fre ely exp ress ours elves?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  9. JD

    Being tolerant of all people except the people you disagree with is not tolerance. Atheists on this post are shouting for for everyone to be tolerant of them but refuse the same in return to those who do not agree with them. An exclusive belief claim is one that says what I believe is right and all others are wrong. Christians, muslims, hindus, jews, atheists, and many others have an exclusive truth claim built into their religion. Instead of saying all those belief systems need to go away or that it is somehow harmful to have a belief such as that, I propose we agree to disagree in life and understand that diversity means respecting those whose beliefs with which we disagree. Name calling is childish. I've read so many posts referring to 'idiocy' and the idea that promoting a religion is 'child abuse'. What kind of great philosophical movement has to resort to that kind of bashing to get their point or win over people to their way of thinking? I believe atheists are really agnostics since no one can really prove God doesn't exist. Atheists believe that God does not exist. This is a very impossible thing to actually prove. So true atheists have a very unstable philosophical foundation for their beliefs. I respect those who say they don't know if God exists more philosophically since that is at least a fair thing to say and firmer ground philosophically to stand on. The question for those who admit they don't know if God doesn't exist then is clear and has eternal ramifications: what if you are wrong about that? I'll be praying your hearts are not so hardened by those who would rather place their faith in reason rather than a loving God. Humans are relational and capable of love. It makes more sense to me to believe that we came from a loving God than from nowhere.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Will S

      In my experience, atheists are the biggest hypocrites of all.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Answer

      Yea because we don't give two shakes to your bs fairy tales that you worked so hard to impress upon others with.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Reason Rules

      Yes, I want to have faith in your "loving" god who "loves" me soo much that he will send me straight to hell if I merely put my belief in things that have evidence. Absurd. You pray for me, and I'll think for you.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • JC

      That works only if we fully remove religion as a basis for enacting or not enacting laws in this country. You want athiests to be tolerant of you? Quit trying to define marriage and women's reproductive rights based upon your personal religious beliefs. You can't do that? You're fair game as far as I'm concerned.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "The question for those who admit they don't know if God doesn't exist then is clear and has eternal ramifications: what if you are wrong about that?"

      Pascal's Wager may be incredibly flawed, but it is still a product of extensive thought by one of the greatest geniuses to have ever lived. Stripping it down to a ridiculous question like "What if you're wrong?" is an incredible insult to the memory of Pascal. You can either stop being a typically LAZY religionist and take the time to state all the premises (including the one for establishing a dilemma between the christian perspective and atheism, a dilemma you establish but do not justify) or you can respectfully STFU.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      What's unstable about non-belief? When your belief has no foundation, whose guilty of instability?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • JD

      TANK – If you can neither prove nor dis-prove something, then it is reasonable to say you don't know. If you don't know for sure, it is reasonable to say you could be wrong.

      You are like most atheist/agnostics I have met in that you are very pseudo-intellectual. Your beliefs would lead you to think that I would imagine since the rest of us faith people are lower than you intellectually (this is what you can label as sarcasm). Let me assure you, those who believe differently than you have the capability to think as well as you.

      One more thing, it is not respectful to say STFU, even if you put 'respectfully' before it. I would think someone with your intellectual prowess would understand that.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • JD

      Nicodemus – Non-belief is a belief. If you didn't believe strongly in your non-belief I'm sure you wouldn't have posted. You are making a truth statement by saying that you don't believe in anything. Your truth statement asserts that everyone else who doesn't believe as you do is wrong. You are posting to make that claim. How is that more tolerant than what anyone else in the world believes? I don't understand why so many people are claiming discrimination because someone believes something different than they do. That is a disturbing trend. It's not majority rules or minority rules. We all believe different things, we all don't have to agree on them.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:12 pm |

    As the lovely my bhungi grand mother danced through the ashes of goon Al-Madinah she spread her crap on all the paths Muhammad had walked in his last days on earth. The new graffiti were the signs of the soowars that Mohammad followed the lovely young girls on the streets of Al-Madinah. These new signs were added to the Nobel Qur'an because you yourself told bhangi Allah it must be so.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Answer

      Islam wipe hole, hands.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Do you by chance sprinkle magical fairy dust when you leave the house and go prancing down the street? Just askin'.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  11. Think

    What do you say to someone that believes in magic? How do you rationalize with the irrational? They are blinded by faith which has nothing to do with truth. Religion is a security blanket for the weak of mind. Let them believe in "Santa" as long as it doesn't enter political debate, scientific discovery, civil rights issues, and other important adult topics.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Answer

      Even in a world full of magic... it would be testable.

      Think about it.

      If there were students studying for finals to be mages of different classifications. They would need to prove their magics.
      From the strength of a fire conjuration to the coldness of an ice storm. How else would they go about it without a standard to judge a valid magic user?

      March 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • (2i)^0.5

      You are ignorant of God, and what you type seems silly to anyone that knows he's there. The apostles of Jesus must have been exasperated to on one hand watch miracles of God, and then on the other hand, not be able to say or do anything for those that denied God. Life is harder when constraints are added, but it is for a good reason, separating the wheat from the weeds.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Answer

      The religious are ignorant of their own ignorance. Classic.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • (2i)^0.5

      What appears to you to be ignorance on my part, is the truth that you are ignorant of. God does it this way to separate the fruit from the thistles. You will rant and rave against the truth, claim others are insane or delusional, and this shows there isn't any fruit at your location. This is what God is after, and you are making it plain enough for him to see it.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • G to the T

      @(2i)^0.5 – there seems to be an automatic assumption that anyone who is an atheist has never held a christian (or other theistic) worldview. In my experience, that is almost never the case. I've only met a very few atheists who never had relgious faith in the past.

      Please understand – we've been there. We believed much as you do now, but now we don't.

      I absolutely agree that members of both sides of the fence can be fairly militant, but I can certainly understand the frustration many atheists feel. Remember when you were first baptized/converted/reborn and felt that NOW you knew the TRUTH. That's how many atheists feel after leaving religion. Just like you, they see the other side as lacking some essential gnosis and desperately want to help them (much to the consternation of the other side).

      Our views of the nature of reality vary diametrically, so how can members of these groups live together? My suggestion is that legislation needs to provide the most liberty to the most people possible. That way, no one is being denied civil liberties if at all possible. It is in this respect that I feel religious people need to bend a bit. It is OK for you to not believe gay marriage is "OK", but it is NOT ok to use that as the basis to deny someone civil liberties. Just as it is NOT OK for anyone to deny you the ability to practice your religous beliefs.

      Can't we all just get along?

      April 18, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • nothing

      As someone else pointed out, if you had loved Jesus, you never would have left him. You would have said so, even when faced with death.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  12. Salero21

    Atheists are rabid wolves, Jesus himself said that. Their behavior and conduct in this Belief Blog proves it without a doubt.

    Jesus called Herod a Fox and foxes are canines like coyotes, jackals dogs and wolves.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • An Awesome Message from P.W. Swivel

      Salero21 you might want to watch this OK

      People are People


      Thanks for watching.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Answer

      D-e-m-o-n-i-z-e them if you can not win.

      From the christian playbook itself.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      A ridiculously massive stretch on your part. Even more so, given that the Bible, after all, is supposed to be literally true, so Herod must have very literally been a fox.

      More important however, is the utter lack of basis for your claim. As a Roman client king and faithful citizen of the Empire, Herod would have been required to pledge obeisance to the Roman gods. His position alone indicates that he did so and was therefore not an atheist, a term and outlook essentially unknown in that part of the world at that time.

      But have fun making stuff up if it makes you feel better.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  13. Salvador Gonzalez

    Atheist are like the guy who has never found a woman's g-spot. To him they don't exist and are simply a myth, fantasy, but some of us know they are real.

    March 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      What!? You're saying god's a female and you want to find her g-spot and "do" her? Oh, the devil that inhabits thee should be smitten!

      March 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Eljay

      just like Santa Claus...

      March 24, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • G to the T

      Comparing G-spot to god? Well that's new!

      April 18, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  14. lolwut

    Nothing wrong with a guy promoting his beliefs, but these whiny attempts to play the victim, as if atheism seriously represents some sort of downtrodden, oppressed underclass in an age when the nation has never been more secularized, are especially comical when performed beneath a giant banner proclaiming "REASON!"

    March 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Answer

      We're coming to trod on you. That's the message.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • g2-b837363fe05d124be3384fdddef67d01

      If you'd ever lost a job because you were an atheist, you would feel differenty.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Jacques

      dude, according to recent poles in America, people wouldn't elect a person if they profess unbelief. Don't tell me they are just whining... that's just ignorant

      March 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Oh, and your xian beliefs are a bastion of reason? By all means, please, give me a break.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  15. Answer

    Seriously.. you believers all have evidence?

    Francisco DeCastro

    Really? in my case, I have faith in my religious belief because I have evidence.... Some people choose not to believe the evidence, but thats not their problem. I have 100% evidence in everything in my faith.

    See, me and you are different. In your "religious views" You have faith without evidence, that sounds amazing. I Wish I could say the same. I have tangible evidence and visual evidence, and that is what makes my faith strong.


    Why not end the whole debate? Show the evidence to the world. Believers you've got shiat.

    You have claims, but don't even realize that you are making yourself feel better.

    WHY NOT end the whole debate if you can?

    March 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Michael

      We are witness Many have not seen and they believe and are the greatest I have seen and i am the least!

      I am who I am!

      March 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Vic

      Romans 1:20
      "20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

      Colossians 1:16
      "16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him."

      Hebrews 11:3
      "3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible."

      Acts 17:24-28
      "24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’"

      [Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)]

      March 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Michael

      And for you You shall never have sign!

      March 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Answer

      Useless babble quotes haven't stop the debate.

      So therefore : you are an idiot.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Answer

      Quote the whole bible. Every page of it.

      Still you'll be lacking. Always.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • God Illusion

      Vic – using the bible to attempt to prove the truth of religion is like using a Marvel Comic to attempt to prove the truth of Superman.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • (2i)^0.5

      God answers the debate personally for some. The rest have the bible to read at what ever level of detail you want, or don't want. Your belief is what matters, without it you will never know until it's too late. It is like eating food, if you doubt food is safe to eat, you will starve to death. This is much the same thing, but in the spiritual realm. You will do what ever you want either way.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Michael

      Is their ultimate truth? Is their an up and a down a right and a left a good and a evil what does your science say about truth!?

      March 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • (2i)^0.5

      The ultimate truth is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as described in the bible. Salvation is of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and his dying for the sins of others then raising again. If you search the rest of your life through all other religions including atheism, you will not find that truth, and it is the truth that answers the question. The bible is the most valuable book you could ever read and believe. Without it, you will not find God.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      God answers the debate personally? Wow! I didn't think your god was supposed to be a person. Thank you for laying bare what your god really is: a manifestation of all HUMAN traits, good and bad, rolled up into one big fictional character.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • (2i)^0.5

      The bible contains many accounts of God talking with others, and at each point in time when he did that, any debate about God's existence was over for that person talking with God. God has not stopped doing this. But if you can't be bothered to believe those describing it in the bible, you won't believe anyone else either. N accounts, or N+1, won't make any difference to you.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  16. Michael

    The Creator set him self up as the truth the light good not evil what does that say about anyone that does not believe in him.- what they say is i don't believe in good- i believe in evil- i am man and there should be no other god be for me!
    For some one that understands the mind of man what does that say!! ?________________.

    I am -a Voice i AM NOBODY!

    March 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One


      March 24, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Unrepentant Atheist

      Only a Sith deals in absolutes...

      March 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  17. LAST DAY

    GOD has made Himself known

    through the "Language of Mathematics"

    in His book of Nature, and book of Religion,

    thus to cure and heal all sick and doubtful atheist or agnostic minds now!


    March 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • g2-b837363fe05d124be3384fdddef67d01

      I happen to be a mathematician, and you are wrong.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  18. Correctlycenter

    Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
    Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives
    are lived in complete honesty!

    When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all
    day long. Day and night Your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength
    evaporated like water in the sumer heat.

    Finally, I confessed my sin to You and stopped trying to hide them. I said to
    myself, I will confess my rebellion to the LORD. And He forgave me! All of my
    guilt is gone.

    Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to You while there is time.
    That they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For You are my
    hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.

    The LORD says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise
    you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit
    and bridle to keep it under control.

    Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust
    the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all of you who obey Him! Shout for
    joy, all of those whose hearts are pure! Psalm 32

    March 24, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sue

      Sounds like your god specializes in punishing those who don't toe his odd line. No thanks.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Amen Amon


      "How manifold are thy works,
      They are hidden from before (us)
      O Sole God, whose powers no other possesseth.
      Thou didst create the earth according to thy heart
      While thou wast alone
      Man, all cattle, large and small
      All that are upon the earth
      That go about on their feet
      (All) That are on high
      That fly with their wings
      The foreign countries, Syria and Kush,
      The land of Egypt
      Thou settest every man into his place
      Thou suppliest their necessities
      Everyone has his possessions
      And his days are reckoned
      The tongues are divers in speech
      Their forms likewise and their skins are distinguished
      (For) thou makest different the strangers."
      - ancient Egyptian hymn/prayer to sun-god Amen/Amon (precedes your Middle Eastern writings of Hebrews)


      March 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  19. the AnViL™

    devious repugnant xians work hard to indoctrinate children in our public schools. take a few minutes and watch this video and see – from their own mouths.


    March 24, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Correctlycenter

      People will be INDOCTRINATED by something or someone. Money, greed, career, lifestyle, self-centeredness, social status, lust, pleasure, evolution and lies of the devil. I would prefer to be BRAINWASHED by God, then anything else listed above...

      March 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Thai Researchers Discover 100-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Fossile



      March 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    Christians, softball number 2:

    Why does Judas become increasingly more embroidered and demonized from Mark to the final last supper scene in the bible? Would not all disciples have the same or at least a very similar account of the meetng they all attended? Was Mark passed out?

    March 24, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Samuel7

      Mark wasn't at the last supper, bud. He was a disciple, not one of the 12 apostles. Same with Luke.

      March 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
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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.