April 18th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

My Take: Godless in Boston mourn, too

Editor’s note: Greg M. Epstein is the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of the New York Times best-seller "Good Without God." He directs the Humanist Community Project, a national think tank helping to study and build communities for the nonreligious.

By Greg M. Epstein, Special to CNN

Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) — After two days of holding back my own feelings to focus on the needs of a community in mourning, what finally split my heart in two was scrolling through the list of donations to the fund-raising page for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother and daughter among the tragically injured at the Boston Marathon.

Celeste, the mother, has volunteered for my congregation. She’s basically an aunt to a senior member of our staff. So I cried for the two-sidedness: A member of our community lost her legs below the knees, and nearly lost her daughter. And, in one day, nearly 4,000 people donated more than $250,000 to support them. They seemed to be saying, through their gifts, “Please do this for me too if anything should ever happen to me or my family.”

AC360: Mother lost legs, daughter nearly died in bombing

As a chaplain, I’m struggling to make sense of this tragedy just like any other member of the clergy. And like faith communities across the country, the thousands of people I work with are doing what needs to be done when tragedy strikes close to home. We’re offering one another comfort. We’re calling around to the point of exhaustion, trying to figure out who needs help and how we can provide it.

The only difference is, we are a community of atheists — a congregation of Humanists.

You’ve probably read the statistics: With 18% of the nation’s population now nonreligious, America is less religious today than ever before. This especially applies to young Americans, up to a third of whom now have no religion. That number may be closer to half on many of the college campuses throughout Boston, like the one where I work.

What you may not have noticed, however, is that in addition to the religiously unaffiliated, or “nones” as sociologists have taken to calling them, a new and very significant group of Americans has been emerging — the nonreligiously affiliated. Relatively quietly, many thousands of mostly young Americans who identify as atheists and agnostics have been coming together to form civically active, thoughtful secular community groups that now dot nearly our whole nation.

Sometimes you hear about the debates these groups hold with religious leaders. But while Richard Dawkins and the like are eloquent and controversial speakers on behalf of atheism, most such debates are actually organized by religious organizations. The vast majority of what Humanist and secular communities do is positive, uncontroversial and entirely American. We serve. We meet throughout the year. We help one another raise good kids. We celebrate life, and we grieve death.

So I don’t relish the opportunity — or the need — to say that right now, our community is grieving too, just like any other Boston-area congregation. Boston, in fact, is home to one of the biggest secular/Humanist/atheist/nonreligious communities in the world. (Sure, we don’t know what to call ourselves. But then again neither does the LGBT — or is it GLBT? — or LGBTQ? — community, and that hasn’t stopped them from thriving.) We meet every week. We’re getting ready to open up a large community center. We sponsor service programs where we invite interfaith groups to help us package thousands of meals for hungry kids. You can even join us this Sunday: We’ll be marking our losses together in a memorial gathering.

What is so disappointing to see people do, then, is blame the horrific and traumatizing events of this Monday on the godless, or on godlessness, as way too many on Twitter and elsewhere have been doing. As one young woman in our community said to me, “It’s hard enough to deal with senseless grief, but when people write things like 'Why do people have to be so godless to want to kill innocent people?' it makes me feel like I’m not safe either, like we’re being singled out for prejudice.”

Obviously when people say “I’ll pray for you” or “May God grant you strength,” they’re only expressing their own sincere convictions. But while not everyone holds those same beliefs, we all want to be acknowledged in a way that feels right to us.

And when political leaders like Gov. Deval Patrick or President Obama try to make sense of these moments by assembling interfaith services, it is admirable — far better for a politician to bring different religions together than to only recognize one religion’s view of loss as valid. But for goodness' sake, must the nonreligious continue to be excluded from such gatherings? I’ve seen Humanists knock on the door recently at the interfaith celebrations of political conventions, or after tragedies like Hurricane Sandy or Newtown. We wanted to help and were turned away. I hope this is where people realize: We are part of the community too. We care and want to offer our support just as much as anyone. We, too, are in shock and grief.

Secular people place our faith in the human ability to value life over death. We believe in committing ourselves to love and care and help as indiscriminately as possible, because that is what makes our lives worthwhile. We try our best, despite our doubt, to ensure that the good will that comes from tragedy will ultimately exceed the bad.

All that said, I don’t have a clue what Celeste’s beliefs are, and I don’t care. I just hope she and Sydney and everyone else injured get well. After all, would you believe for a second that every Christian pastor knows whether or not every visitor to his or her congregation truly believes in the Ascension? Nor should they. The point of a congregation, to me, is just to care about the people in it, and better yet, to help bring people together to care about one another. Our community is including everyone, religious or not, in our thoughts and hopes at this tough time. It would mean a lot to us if others do the same.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (3,411 Responses)
  1. palintwit

    I won't be forming my own opinion on the tragedy in Boston until I hear what Sarah Palin has to say about it. Afterall, she is my moral compass and my guiding light. I hope she is for you as well.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  2. Jason Alexander

    It is typical and interesting to see how people, who don't believe in God, start questioning and accusing those people, that do believe in God, as the reason for all of these unfortunate events. Does it mean that you don't believe in him or that you just plain and outright reject him. I believe it is the latter.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • derp

      And of course you would be wrong.

      We don't believe god exists. We sarcastically ask questions like "why would god let this happen" to point out the absurdity of your silly ancient myth worship, but trust me, we don't reject god. There is no way to reject something you don't believe exists.

      Do you reject sasquatch, or do you just don't believe sasquatch exists?

      April 18, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • kenny

      Do atheist fanatics fly planes into buildings? or .... suicide bombings.... even though you as an xtian might not think your religion has done EVIL in its name... what was Iraq? a mostly xtian country invades a muslim one under FALSE pretenses and kills tons of muzzies because they want to be free from tyranny??? hmmmm sounds idiiotic.... and evil... criminal to say the least...

      April 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Karl

      An atheist helped to create the atomic bomb. Humanists helped to create and champion modern democracy which is the reason many fought to created a non-Sadamm led democratic Iraq. The point is immoral people are Godless but that does not mean all Godless people are Immoral.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • sam stone

      i find it typical and amusing that theists feel that non believers can fear retaliation ("judgement" to the pious set) from beings in whiich they do not believe.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Me

      No, we are asking the person that happens to be religious. If they give a religious response, that is not my fault.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  3. Karl

    It annoys me that this event was made into a platform for discussion about religion vs atheism. We know some people believe and some people don't those that say pray for those who have fallen are not trying to offend you they are trying to help others. Love others regardless of beliefs and take your discussion to another time another place. This event is not about differences it is about finding what makes us great together.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • merlynleroy

      Kind of hard when atheists and humanists are excluded from the get-go, Karl.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      " excluded from the get-go" Please explain this.

      Do you think asking people to give money to charities exude the poor and bankrupt from the begin, therefore by your logic the correct thing to do is to remove all giving as to not to offend the poor?

      April 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  4. Rosie

    Don't blame God. People make their own choices.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • sam stone

      Not if god is omniscient, they don't

      April 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      "Not if god is omniscient, they don't"

      Do you know what omniscient means?

      hint: just because you know the outcome of Game 6 of the 1986 world series, nobody hold you accountable for letting the Met's tie the game up.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Ladybird

      I promise you that Humanist are not blaming God for anything at all, because God does not exist. (You have to believe in something to blame things on it.)

      April 26, 2013 at 9:58 am |
  5. i12bphil

    It never ceases to amaze me the level of ignorance of comments here. You endlessly claim that man created God, man created religion, yet you blame religion and God for either the evil that men do, not man. Its circular reasoning. Its the logic of toddlers. You blame God for the bad things in the world or question why he lets it happen and try to use that as you 'proof' he does not exist. What did any of you do? Why did you let it happen since you are God's creator. God does not intervened in the lives of man until he's had enough. God does not control us as puppets. We left him, so he leaves us to let what we do to each other happen. We and we alone are responsible for the evils that befall the earth. If you believe for one second that the absence of religions would suddenly make man stop being evil, you are sadly mistaken.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • derp

      "God does not intervened in the lives of man until he's had enough"

      Just to be clear, how many terrorist bombings will there be before god will have "had enough"?

      April 18, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Jeffrey

      No, we blame men acting in the name of a god.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Roger


      The point is man created god, and then commits/committed atrocities in deference to this imaginary god he created. Is that so hard to understand.
      Its like doing wacky things to impress Roger Rabbit. It sounds silly, but people do it.
      Or like the cargo cult nuts in the pacific doing all kinds of weird things to placate their imaginary cargo cult gods.
      Or like what people of all religions do..

      April 18, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • I_get_it

      Believers have a choice. Either God controls all things, including the death of the little boy, the loss of his sister's leg and the life of pain his parents will now suffer or he doesn't. But, you can't have it both ways, attributing all things bad to "darkness" or "human nature" but crediting some hokey sky-fairy with the "good," like heroic acts following a tragedy. All that does is reduce your god to nothing more than a metaphor for "good luck."

      (reprint of post from @Colin)

      April 18, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Doug

      If this were a contest for how many straw-man arguments could be packed into one post, you would be the clear winner. I haven't seen anyone claim that " the absence of religions would suddenly make man stop being evil" or that God is at fault for the evils of man.

      I certainly can't speak for every non-believer, but I can try to explain to you how the connection that I, as an agnostic feel between religion and morality. It seems to me that religion simply absolves people of any personal responsibility to think about right and wrong. You don't have to think about tough moral questions, because you have a book/minister/imam to tell you what to believe.

      This blind allegiance can lead to incredible good. Many of our worlds most selfless charitable acts have been done by believers, in the name of their religion. Faith in a higher power and/or after-life can lead people to make remarkable sacrifices. However, this blind allegiance can also lead to horrible deeds - terrorism, wars etc. Slavery is a beautiful example of this - the Bible was used by one side to justify slavery, and by the other side to end it.

      So, I think that the issue many atheist have is not that they believe religion is evil, it is that they are frustrated with the religious people who feel that they have a corner on morality.

      April 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Me

      What is a god with out fallers and worship?

      April 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Wow – do you read at all?

      We don't claim god did these things – we don't believe in god. We ask believers, who say there is a god, and that their god can and has intervened, why their god doesn't intervene. It's not a question of why god isn't doing it – it's a question of how they explain this contradiction in their beliefs, much like asking why if there is a Santa, he doesn't deliver equal gifts to all kids, rather htan more to rich kids.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  6. toby

    Amazing! Every where I turn I see the footprints of Christ the Redeemer and his radical call to Mercy ,Truth and Love in a world frought wiith hatred and strife ! Even this Humanist group. Jesus said ,"COME unto me ,all ye that are heavy laden and I will give you rest!

    April 18, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • BigJ

      When all you've got is a hammer ...

      April 18, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • toodark

      Wave to it.

      Wave to what, you say?

      The point you missed entirely.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  7. Catherine

    Way to make this about you. Everyone is so offended these days. If someone says, "I will pray for you," they are just saying, "You are in my thoughts." You may be an atheist, but obviously you still have a need to identify with a group or you wouldn't be complaining that your "community" isn't as publicly organized to be acknowledged in the public square as Christians, Jews, Hindus.

    For those saying anti-Christian and anti-Jewish remarks above (because it's cool?), would you say the same about other religious groups?

    April 18, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • derp

      "would you say the same about other religious groups?"

      Yes, we think muslims are just as whacked as christians and jews, or anyone else who believes in ancient myths..

      And when you say I'll pray for you" you, it creeps us out. We don't want you having imaginary conversations with the voices in your head on our behalf.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Jeffrey

      Congratulations on missing the point of this article completely. Your angry, un-Christian post only proves Mr. Epstein's' point. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Jiminy Cricket


      I will wish upon a star for you.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • derp

      "Your angry, un-Christian post only proves Mr. Epstein's' point"

      There is nothing angry about my post.

      And there is nothing specifically "un christian" about my post. In fact, I made a clear point of grouping all myth worshipping together equally.

      Nice job of false christian persecution.

      You win todays prize for being an idiot.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • G to the T

      "...they are just saying 'You are in my thoughts'." Then just say "you are in my thoughts"! That way you know it will apply to everyone and won't be found as insulting! As soon as you say "I'll pray for you" the assumption on our end is that a) you think we share your belief and b) you think prayer will somehow improve our situtation. If neither of these are the case, STOP using that phrase.

      April 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Praying for a nonbeliever could actually make their “situation” much worse, before it gets better.

      April 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Ann

      When someone says they'll pray for me, I don't get offended – I appreciate that they're saying that I will be in their thoughts.

      However, I recently had a serious illness and had a whole group of people praying for me (I was visiting religious friends and had met some members of their church). I appreciated the support, but after I recovered, I thought it was quite weird that they attributed my recovery to their prayers. I'm more inclined to thank the doctors and the medications. Their responses: "Oh, but God sent the medications!" Um, okay, but then who sent the illness in the first place?

      I still think they were trying to be very nice, but it just got odd.

      April 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  8. Paul

    Very well put.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  9. rocketscientist

    I thought this was a nice, heartfelt article. I'm a Catholic by birth and choice and I have friends of all faiths. One of my best friends is an agnostic/atheist, and most of my other friends are probably non-religious as well. IMO, beliefs or the lack thereof, had nothing to do with the Boston attack. It's just pure human evil. You don't have to believe in God to be a good person.

    I'm not sure how an atheist/agnostic/secular congregation works, but I don't see any reason why they should be excluded from interfaith services if they want to attend or from helping out. Good people are just that, good people, irrespective of their personal beliefs. I don't know why that's such a problem with some people. Why can't we all just tolerate each other, talk about our differences instead of hating "the other," and be civil and irrespective to each other's individual beliefs and freedom to choose how we worship or not?

    April 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      I am an atheist and a member of the Universalist Unitarian congregation. I am welcomed as an atheist, and we even have Wiccan members. Although we all have different spiritual beliefs, we can come together to support our fellow man and provide help and support to those in need, without judgement of our individual conscience. Here are the principals of the UU church:

      The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
      Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
      Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
      A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
      The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
      The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
      Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

      There is absolutely no dogma in this church and on top of that they do not believe in Hell.

      If any atheists out there are looking for a way to come together and serve your fellow man, I would suggest that you look into the Universalist Unitarian churches in your area. On top of that – the people I have met in this church are very interesting free thinkers and actually fun to be around. I am especially proud of their program of religious study for the youth of the church.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • mulehead

      That is one of the best posts I've read in a while. I used to be a believer, and I'm married to a Catholic who i adore. I didn't intend to become an atheist, however through my education – ironically at a Baptist University – I came to see the history of mans origins, the evolution of western civilization, and it just clicked...man made god. Certainly this is an area of frustration for my wife, but she understands where I'm coming from.

      What I resent most is the fact that people label atheists as uncaring and amoral – my morals haven't changed, I still volunteer and support the charities I always have, even more so now that I have the means to contribute more to society. I do struggle with belief....just the other day my 5 year old son asked.."Did Jesus really rise from the dead?" Honestly I couldn't answer him...but i certainly didn't go off and say "there is no God...it's all a story". I couldn't do that out of respect for my wife. There will be a time and place for it, but not when he's 5 for crying out loud.

      Anyway, that's a great post. Have a nice weekend wherever you may be.

      April 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  10. Squeezebox

    Aetheists mourn more than most because they have no hope. For them, once a person is gone, they're gone forever. They'll NEVER see that person again. People who believe in an afterlife don't mourn as much because they believe that the loss is not permanent.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • toodark

      Nice tidy little box you've wrapped up everyone in. Theists really do have all the answers, don't they? 😉

      April 18, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Taroya

      They have always been gone forever.
      I have never understood why there is so much emphasis on DEAD, for monotheists. What happened to now? Here, today? I need not beg forgiveness for acts that I have done; I do have to make amends for bad acts right here, now, today. I do have to acknowledge good that I have done as well. Right here, now, today. Because there is no forgiveness. I am responsible.
      This is the life that I have, and I need to take care of it. And what is bad about it?
      Almost everything monotheistic that I see and hear implies, if it isn't said outright, that this life is some kind of punishment. Punishment for what? What is wrong here? The sun shines, the rain smells good, the wind is a menace or a gift...there is nothing wrong here. Why should I spend all of my time worrying about an afterlife? I like this one right here just fine. I would really rather spend my energy LIVING.

      April 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Me

      So you see dead people?

      Do not confuse atheism and "afterlife" different things.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Nic

      Atheists have plenty of "hope". The difference between you and me, though, is that I don't need something to give me hope. I don't need a God that has failed to protect his creation or present himself in any fashion other than showing up on toast to have hope.

      Humanity gives me the hope that I need. A hope for a better tomorrow. A hope for a tomorrow that has no religious influence.

      Atheists have plenty of hope.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  11. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Nice words and thoughts... unfortunately humanity is still struggling out of the religious oppression of the dark ages... Gene Roddenberry's dream is a long way off from being realized...

    April 18, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  12. scott

    You cant have it both ways.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  13. Johnny 5

    Great article, Greg. All people mourn, not just the religious.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  14. William Demuth

    While I applaud the generosity I wonder the merits of creating "congregations of Atheists"

    I feel the term is polluted in many ways, indicating an intellectual subservience to some arbitrary authority.

    In any event, this was neither a random nor a supernatural event. This was an act of men against men, and once we understand their motivations we will know more.

    Whatever their motivation, be it secular, religious or cultural, it is not merely a tragedy, but a self-inflicted wound.

    We are our own worst enemies.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  15. csm_in_dc

    Isn't "Humanist chaplain" an oxymoron?

    April 18, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Beantownpride

      Good question, let me google that for you.


      Hm, looks like "no."

      April 18, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • d


      Though originally the word "chaplain" referred to representatives of the Christian faith,[1] it is now applied to men and women of other religions or philosophical traditions–such as in the case of the humanist chaplains serving with military forces in the Netherlands and Belgium

      The concept of 'generic' and/or 'multifaith' chaplaincy is also gaining increasing support, particularly within healthcare and educational settings.[4]

      April 18, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  16. steve

    Clever to sneak in those numbers of non religious and link them to atheist, he doesn't include the fact that of those 18% most consider themselves spiritual. 5% of American polled are Atheist. But he makes a good point, if I was an Atheist the whole religious display might irk me.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • NormB

      If the number of atheists is indeed 5% (I suspect that is your guess) that means there are twice as many of us as there are Jews in America (2.2%). I think that makes us a pretty significant group.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • toodark

      "Spiritual" is a fairly meaningless word....or more to the point immensely elastic. Atheist, on the other hand addresses only one thing. Rejection of claims of a god or gods.

      "Spiritual" can mean nearly anything and yes, one can be a spritual atheist...believing that some some sort of supernatural phenomena are real but not attributing them to any form of a god. But it's just as indefensible as all out theism.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  17. Grieving for America

    This article sounds like a lost soul that is grasping for – where to turn and what hold on to. To the writer: When we say "I'll pray for you", we mean it. Don't discard our words as meaningless. We find strength in the words of the Bible, We find our way out of confusion and find peace through prayer. Plus, it means a lot to someone when we tell them that 'we'll pray for them'. It lifts their spirit and brings them hope. To possess a hollow soul would be stressful and an added burden on our already fast paced, complicated lives.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #8 – If you habitually and incessantly say things like, “have a blessed day,” or “god bless,” or “prayer changes things,” or “amen,” without regard to the recipients’ beliefs or disbeliefs then be advised all I hear is “Heil Hitler!”

      April 18, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • derp

      "Plus, it means a lot to someone when we tell them that 'we'll pray for them'. It lifts their spirit and brings them hope."

      Not if they are an atheist.

      When you tell an atheist that you are going to pray for them, we think you are just another delusional nitwit talking to the imaginary voice in your head.

      It does not give up hope or lift or spirits. It makes us sad.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Tom

      Don't project.

      Why is it so often religious people have to throw this ploy out there? It is quite possible to be very centered and secured without any form of faith.

      I almost find it laughable when I see these assumptions that someone is "searching", or some desperate lost soul. This is almost certainly not the case. We do not all need "faith" to guide us or make us feel complete

      April 18, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Grieving ... I wasn't going to be negative on this article, but your entire comment is supersti.tious drivel.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • toodark

      So quick to prosthelytize you didn't actually pay attention to what the author said. He didn't dismiss you. He said, "Obviously when people say “I’ll pray for you” or “May God grant you strength,” they’re only expressing their own sincere convictions.

      It's a fact of life that, hard as one may try, one doesn't get to determine what their words mean to another. It's the height of arrogance to presume one's ability to lift and instill hope. That isn't for you to evaluate...it's up to the recipient. And the author, as the recipient in this example, chose to acknowledge the intention and later in this article describe how that good intention can be received by one who doesn't share that point of view.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  18. aj

    The irony is that most "killing in the name of" is created because of strong religious convictions. For thousands of years, religion has been the cause for many many deaths. Inqusitions, wars in England, France, Spain, Rome, Israel, Caonstantinople, Jerusalam, Somalia, Middle east, I could go on for pages. The fact that someone needs to say people who do not have faith still mourn is pretty pathetic. But thanks for saying it anyway.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • i12bphil

      For every page you could go on about, I could list two or three pages about atrocities that have been committed without being "in the name of" as you put it. There is no statistical evidence that would suggest more violence and destruction have been committed in the name of God that the violence committed in the name of man. Your premise holds no water.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • HieTide

      You're right that you could go on for pages of "killing in the name of" (insert religion or deity), and all of it is shameful, but most mass killing has not been done for any religion. Most has been politically driven. Also, several genocides perpetrated by secular governments in the 20th century are each responsible for more deaths than all religious conflicts combined.

      We should strive to end murder in the name of religion as well as murder in the name of other causes. But we should also stop repeating the myth that religion is responsible for more war and violence than any other cause.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Karl

      Just because you kill in the name of something does not mean that make that a part of that religions beliefs. Yes, many kill in the name of the Abrahamic God but if you read the teachings of those religions it does not say go kill for me. It almost universally says go love for me. People kill for their beliefs all the time but don't pin their twisted version of belief on others.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Sad

      Violence in the "name" of religion is not done by religious people. Religion is only their excuse for the violence.

      It's not any different than spinning the concept of religious violence to justify atheistic faith. The atheist needs justification for their faith and the only mechanism available is to discredit other religions.

      The existence of "god" can neither be proven nor disproven; this is the essence of faith.

      The fact that such a large portion of atheists are nearly obsessive in their attacks on other religions speaks more to their personal character than any inherent intolerance tied to the atheistic faith.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  19. Vince

    Although this article was written with Boston in mind, as a non-religious person from West, Texas, this article has more appreciation and meaning this morning than on any other day in my 40 years on this planet. I greatly appreciate the prayers from well-wishers, and I am thankful for the the groups (yes, even the religious ones) that are pitching in to help my town. I think the country is moving towards more tolerance for beliefs (or lack of), and I am hopeful that in 100 years it will not even be a discussion beyond the history classes.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • rocketscientist

      Hey Vince! I just read the horrible news about Texas this morning (no TV when I get home, I have 2 year old twins). I'm so sorry about what happened and I hope the death toll is small. I hope you don't mind if we include you Texans in hour family prayer tonight.

      Take Care!


      April 18, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  20. Quip

    Wish these humanists could have done something to prevent this evil.

    April 18, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Searching for answers

      Why did humanity let this evil happen?

      April 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Confused

      Wish those god-fearing folk (or, you know, God) could have done something to prevent this evil.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Billy

      Isn't it God who's supposed to be able to prevent things?

      April 18, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Doobs

      I wish that someone, anyone, could have prevented this, regardless of their beliefs.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • ahpiii

      Well, to be honost, who knows how much more advanced the human race would be if it weren't for the ristrictive hand of religion either condemning scientific progress or using rightiousness as a platform to justify holy wars. I bet a lot of things would be better if we were more concerned about the world we live in instead of trying to please a world we can only believe in faith.

      April 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Me

      Sorry, I was doing yard work.

      April 18, 2013 at 7:20 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.