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. Jeff

    The godless can't mourn....because they don't believe anything about anything, really.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Jeff, you are suggesting that human emotions come from something other than ourselves? What does one need to "believe" in to feel emotions? If I may, you are an idiot.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      Hey Theists – this mind is one of yours.... Look what religion did to it.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • ec

      Clearly, you're not very smart. So, the godless can't be sad? That makes a lot of sense. And when the godless do good, it's not to impress a magical being or to get into heaven, like your selfish "christian" @$$.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Pelerim

      I don't feel the need to remain in that child-like state where I have to believe in supernatural beings to make my way through life. Grow up, little boy.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • sam stone

      Still grovelling for forgiveness, Jeffy?

      April 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • ME II

      I believe your statement is really stupid... is that something?

      April 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Chutzpah

      I'm feeling very sorry for you right now, Jeffy!

      April 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And another to add to the list.
      Atheism is:
      and now:

      April 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • drachefly

      Doc Vestibule:

      You said that Atheism is... Hinduism???

      They believe in more gods than just about anyone else! It's one of the least accurate statements you could make! And that's setting aside the rest of your 100% inaccurate list. Just, that one stood out as especially clueless.

      April 19, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  2. Kim L

    I'm sorry that Christians have come across so badly. I really am. It's disappointing to me as well. There are good atheists, good agnostics, good hindus, good muslims and good Christians...and we all mourn and feel loss. I'm sorry you have felt excluded and I'm sorry that it appears that that lack of inclusion has come from us. Many of the folks who should be including you at events are elected and the general population has proven itself fools over and over when it comes to elections. If they were to include you, they think they will kiss their jobs goodbye at the next election and they don't have the guts to find out if that's true or not. When it comes to religion, we all have a choice to make and the net result is that we all may differ about what happens with eternity but, what we shouldn't differ on is good and evil. Being 'good' doesn't come from religion. As sure as the sun comes up tomorrow, I can tell you that I have known a lot of not-so-good people of variouis faiths. Our media is riddled with their exploits and the history pages are full of them. Being good is something more fundamental...it's a set a values we instill in our kids. A sense of justice and compassion. While these are all things shown in the bible, they are not only found in the bible. Let's all grieve together and when the time is right, let's all rejoice in the justice when the guilty are convicted.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  3. Fiona

    Isn't "humanist chaplain" a self-cancelling phrase?

    As long as people don't say "God was keeping an eye on X," or something similar, I won't judge. I do feel my blood pressure rise when people imply that they or their loved ones merited special protection from their God. As if those who died did not.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  4. Outsider

    It does bother me to see the religion-bashing in these comments. Isn't this article about coming together, after all? I am religious, but I do not mindlessly bash atheists. Both sides can be offensive and misguided, but as a nation, now is a time to focus on the things that bring us together, not on what makes us different.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Simple Logic

      If atheism is like chocolate and religion like peanut butter, everyone gets a chocolate bar as a default. If you want to add your peanut butter that's fine, just don't get any of it on anyone else's chocolate but your own as there are many people who are extremely allergic to peanut butter. So keep it at home, don't send it to school with your kid's. Enjoy all the peanut butter you want at home and put it in all your foods if you prefer, and if you want to sell your peanut butter laden foods to others make sure it is properly labeled as containing peanut butter and never ever ever force your foods on others to avoid possible bouts of anaphylactic shock.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Anonymous misguided anti-theists are lurkers all waiting for any chance to pounce belligerently when and wherever their urges ensue them to do. The sun rises even on cloudy days.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • G to the T

      Thank you for your kind words Outsider. Please see "Heaven Sent" comments below for a good example of why atheists have such a hard time tolerating some religious views...

      April 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • ensorcelled

      "If atheism is like chocolate and religion like peanut butter, everyone gets a chocolate bar as a default. If you want to add your peanut butter that's fine, just don't get any of it on anyone else's chocolate but your own as there are many people who are extremely allergic to peanut butter. So keep it at home, don't send it to school with your kid's. Enjoy all the peanut butter you want at home and put it in all your foods if you prefer, and if you want to sell your peanut butter laden foods to others make sure it is properly labeled as containing peanut butter and never ever ever force your foods on others to avoid possible bouts of anaphylactic shock." BRILLIANT. I plan on using this analogy from now on!!

      April 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  5. HeavenSent

    You atheists refuse to listen to the truth of His word, told to you by the Christians on these articles. Keep walking with Satan and find out where that will lead you. My toothpaste ran out but I have plenty of flea and tick powder. Burn in your father's torture chamber or ask Jesus into your heart.


    April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      Just like YOU refuse to listen to Allah's word. See how this works? Can you comprehend that wee bit of logic. I worry about your hell as much as you do about Islams hell.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm in hell feeding off your fat drippings. I was surprised something under the couch was still edible. It is time for you to start your walk with Jesus.


      April 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Pelerim

      Time didn't exist before the Big Bang....therefore God is man-made fiction.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Tim F

      oh.. you're a crazy person! (or a child)

      Does someone know you're on the internet?

      Do you also want to tell us how we're not getting any presents from Santa Claus this year?

      April 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • sly

      HeavenSent – I'm with you. Why walk with Satan when I can go up to heaven with God and there must be thousands of gorgeous teen-age virgin chicks who unfortunatley did not have time on Earth to enjoy the 'fruits' of mankind.

      From what I know, God likes watching a little hanky-panky (See: Adam/Eve v12.4 pg1003).

      Yep. It's heaven for me, and in a month up there I will eclipse Wilt-the-Stilts famous '10,000' girl record.

      Now, what does Satan have to match that? Huh, let's here it Satan – make me a better offer.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  6. Alph

    humanist rabbi? seriously, How long does the training take .? Ok we believe in nothing, your done.
    Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.
    In search of the truth please do not ignore Jesus, he is the only one who has made this claim and is the only one who can.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • ALF


      April 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Humanism and atheism aren't the same thing. Humanism (especially organized humanism) is closer to Unitarianism...but less encompassing/encouraging of spirituality as a concept.

      OK, that's a massive oversimplification provided for people who really don't know. Look it up if you want to know more. You might also want to compare scientific pantheism and classic pantheism and branch out from there if that's an area of interest.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

    One day it will become true... Just like Iran

    April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  8. Camaro Guy

    Humanist Chaplain? Is that like Jumbo Shrimp, Military Intelligence, CNN News....

    April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • sam

      ....just like 'Owns a Camaro = has a big dick'...

      April 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • ALF

      Cowmarrow gets his info from Alex Jones.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  9. lionlylamb

    Without there being a Godly kingdom to inherit, what is there to look forward to in living Life as we are born to do?

    Luke 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

    1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building."

    April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      Just as I thought – wish thinking..... thats what drive so many of the religious nuts.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • ec

      If there's no afterlife, then you live this life to the fullest. And you help others because they also only have this life. You do good, not to get into heaven or impress some magical being, but because it's the right thing to do.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • sly

      I'm with ya LionKing. I'm going to heaven, and I will inherit all of God's goodness – especially those thousands of gorgeous teenage virgin chicks who never got a chance here on Earth.

      There ain't no laws up there, no wives, no football, and best of all, God likes to watch a little hanky-panky (Adam/Eve 500 yrs bc).

      So, everyone relax, and enjoy some good heavenly pudding – Wilt the Stilts famous 10000 chick record will fall to me without 2 months. Now THATS what I call inherit God's kingdom!

      April 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • InTheKnow

      Try an experiment for me: Replace all mention of god and jesus in the bible verses you are so keen to quote with human or humans. I'll even let you pick the bible version you use. Makes for a real interesting read.

      April 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  10. kenhbradshaw

    I am curious as to why CNN felt it needed to reach out to this guy and publish this. My opinion is that the staff at CNN saw the tragedy as an opportunity to further their agenda (which seems to be anti-religion) and this guy is just a means to an end.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Red Dwarf

      Or they like making money off their banners and any article that has the word "atheist" on it get's tens of thousands of posts...


      April 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • ALF

      Agenda? You must love jesse ventura.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Science

      The End

      You asked for it kenhbradshaw Have a good read !

      Where do morals come from?

      By Kelly Murray, CNN


      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”


      Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
      Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


      April 7th, 2012

      08:32 PM ET

      The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth


      Make sure to read comments

      April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |


      NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.



      April 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah – like posting articles about the pope and christianity every other day is part of an 'agenda'. Moron.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  11. ME II

    I am amazed at the reaction of believers to this article.
    What possible reason could you have to exclude your neighbors from a community gathering to mourn the loss of some of its community members?

    April 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • sam

      Don't forget that one Lutheran sect that punished one of their own for being at an interfaith prayer after Newtown. Just by being present he committed the atrocity of acknowledging people of other faiths.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  12. mykroft

    Most people are 99% atheists, in that if they believe in a religion they disbelieve in all of the other religions, gods and goddesses that man has worshiped over the centuries. You may give no credence to belief in Mithras, Zeus, Odin, Minerva, Set, Shiva or all the other deities that in their time and place were worshiped devoutly, yet assume you've got the special lock on the truth, because YOUR religion is the right one. It has to be, because that was the one you happened to be raised on, and that makes it true.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Red Dwarf

      No one like's to think that their parents or peers were wrong, so their defense of their faith is as much a defense of those who indoctrinated them as it is of any actual religious belief.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  13. Joyhi

    Thank you for this article as I often feel bad when the media shows all the praying and god-a-sizing. I don't believe in a diety, but, now I belong to a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. They are full of people who mostly dislike lables but most could be called humanist. A little less beligerent towards other religions than pure humanist groups I feel. Feeds my need for community that supports me throught life events. Expands my horizons and lifts me up. To everyone affected by this tragedy, my heart goes out to you. Peace. Namaste, Blessed Be, Shalom, love....whatever word of comfort you understand most deeply.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  14. biggles

    Sambo be my hero. I clicked the trigger and heaven is great. Thanks dodo for the tip. Write when u find work.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  15. Deborah

    So – let me see if I have this right. You are feeling put-upon because you were not invited to a gathering of people who believe in something you want no part of?

    April 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • ME II

      Cannot one mourn the loss of another, without prerequisite? Must one pass some religious belief test in order to sense the loss of another human being?

      Do believers have a monopoly on feelings?

      April 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Saraswati


      If "interfaith" services were only for people who agree on core religious issues that would be true. But the fact is they do not – that is their very purpose in being. Interfaith groups are designed to bring together people of different beliefs, including faiths such as Buddhism that include a large number of atheists. The normally sit around and talk about a) how they can get along with one another and 2) what good they can do as a community together. Excluding humanists is just a blatant attempt to leave out a group that they feel threatened by. It's not like these groups are trying to hide the fact that they are creating a large group of those from shrinking belief systems to combat the growth of newer ideas. You can read about the very clear intention here in the National Catholic Register:


      "Interfaith Leaders: Dialogue Helps Overcome Secularism"

      by MICHELLE BAUMAN/EWTN NEWS 11/29/2012 Comments

      Archdiocese of Washington
      Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout

      – Archdiocese of Washington

      WASHINGTON — Participants at a recent interfaith conference in the nation's capital discussed how interreligious dialogue can play an important role in establishing peace and fighting secularization in America.

      Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/interfaith-leaders-dialogue-helps-overcome-secularism/#ixzz2QqSNfiiQ

      April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • tim

      Deborah is entirely correct and it is in fact the point. People of faith want to come together not just because they "feel" something, but because they believe something. They believe in God who is truth itself. They believe in His love, His goodness and in His supremacy and in His constancy. Sure it is entirely possible to come together with atheists and we do so daily in everything else we do, and we share our hopes and fears with you in the workplace and in other places, but when it is time to come together to pray to God, how are we to view your disbelief (and often mockery) of what is at the very core of who we are? Frankly I find it odd that atheists would want to join in a gathering where the dead, the suffering, the sad are placed in the hands of a loving and caring God. In what way would you care to participate and would you then force us to abandon our beliefs and prayers so that we don't "offend" you?

      Nothing is stopping atheists from creating a gathering to offer support in whatever way they choose. It just seems a prerequisite for prayer is a belief in God.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Saraswati


      "People of faith want to come together not just because they "feel" something, but because they believe something. They believe in God who is truth itself."

      If that were true most US Buddhists wouldn't be invited to these meetings which, in fact they are. You either kick out the Buddhists (At least the majority of US Buddhists who are atheists) or admit that this is just a ruse to keep one group out.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • ME II

      I did not realize that prayer was required to mourn, nor to help those in need.

      " 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."

      April 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

    Cedar rapids
    Stop being a hindu atheist, ignorant self centered, and stop refuting truth of word hindu ignorant, it is from word hind, negative of Latin origin adopted in English language.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • sam

      Stop being a lying, delusional, racist fool and go back to the pakistani forums you usually haunt, Yakobi.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  17. The One True Scottsman

    Tomorrow's headline: Did you know that people who wear hats mourn tragic events too?

    April 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  18. Linda

    Sam, your commentary is rife with hateful rhetoric. You should probably seek professional help for personality disorder.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Angie

      Trouble finding the reply button, dear?

      April 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Linda

      No, Angie, I know how to reply. My comment was not related to one specific post, but rather to this entire thread. Was your use of the pronoun "dear" pejorative, or do you have me confused with someone to whom you are close?

      April 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • sam

      Linda, it's hard for me to take advice from someone not smart enough to find the 'reply' link. Your original comment was thoughtless and deserved little in the way of respect. You missed the point of the article. And 'rhetoric' is a big word for a small mind, are you sure you want to use it?

      Clutch your pearls harder and go fill out the Butthurt Report on the main page.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • .

      watch out, kids, it's another pseudo-intellectual!

      April 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Mocking Intercessor

      Daaaaaaaaaamn that is funny, someone must be mad....

      April 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Linda

      Actually, the term "rhetoric" is not a big word for anyone. I suppose you prefer the more base words, like the name you coined for your "Report." I see now that you have already established a reputation on these boards for mindless drivel. You're quite comfortable with your sociopathic thinking and probably share many common beliefs with the perpetrator(s) of the heinous crime in Boston.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • WOW

      Judgemental...heavy on the mental

      April 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • sam

      By all means, keep posting, Linda. You are incredibly amusing in wet hen mode. It's cute – are you that close to insinuating that I have anything in common with the perpetrator(s) of the Boston bombing, simply because of anything posted on a forum? You must be fun to chat with at parties.

      Be honest – you're in a tizzy because I disagreed with your initial post about what a ridiculous article this is. It's hard to be called out for being a rag. You've successfully established what a judgmental, haughty, smug attention whore you are; why don't you flounce off, now, and jam all that pent up rage sideways somewhere south of where your panties are currently bunched? The big kids are still busy talking.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  19. jubusu

    Amen, Greg. As a humanist rabbi in training, I wholeheartedly agree with the perspective you have so eloquently expressed.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  20. premisaac2009

    So, who said the godless don't mourn? There seems to be an unspoken premise that those who believe in a deity somehow believe that the godless do not mourn. The real question should be, what is the difference in HOW the godless mourn. The answer is, they mourn without any objectively grounded hope whatsoever. Believers in a deity can be open to an afterlife. The godless cannot.

    Its funny to see an atheist chaplain opine on what the purpose of a Christian congregation is, and specifically to set correct belief in contradistinction to caring for people, as if the two cannot, or do not go hand in hand. One would think you'd ask an informed Christian or a member of the Christian clergy if you want to know the purpose of a Christian congregation.

    I'd like to see this chaplain opine casually on the purpose of an Islamic congregation or on what an Islamic mullah should or should not do. Well, if he knows whats good for him, he probably will not.

    Care and compassion is not good enough for what, exactly? In the Christian faith, human care and compassion is not good enough to garner salvation (escape from destruction for one's own sin). Neither the Christian, nor the Atheist nor anyone of another faith has enough care and compassion to win brownie points with God.

    But once this is clarified, we can (and should) affirm and encourage all those who show care and compassion because caring for your fellow human being is self-evidently a good thing, and you dont have to be religious to know this or to act with care and compassion. It just wont get you a free pass on the day of Judgement. For that, you willl need the sacrifice of a perfect man, and yes that would be Jesus.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • ted

      well said.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • darthwong

      I don't think this guy understands what the word "objective" means. He keeps using it to describe something that cannot be objectively verified to exist.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And you won't get into the highest level of the Celetial Kingdom.
      For that, you will need to get a secret new name and learn the masonic handshakes and passwords. That will come only when you accept Joseph Smith as your prophet and ti/the 10% of all you own to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • ME II

      I think the author was equating these "interfaith" services with public mourning and by excluding the 'nones' they are excluding them from the community mourning that other groups find useful.

      Additionally, the author appears to be defining a single aspect of congregations found in common with all 'faith' organizations, i.e. support of its members, not defining 'the purpose' of all congregations by this one aspect.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.