When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs
The Branch Davidians, a religious sect led by David Koresh, clashed with federal agents in 1993 in Waco, Texas.
April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.

Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.

But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.

“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

Yet there are ways to tell that a person’s faith has drifted into fanaticism if you know what to look and listen for, say scholars who have studied some of history’s most horrific cases of religious violence.

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“There are a lot of warning signs all around us, but we usually learn about them after a Jim Jones or a David Koresh,” said Charles Kimball, author of “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Here are four warning signs:

1. I know the truth, and you don’t.

On the morning of July 29, 1994, the Rev. Paul Hill walked up to John Britton outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, and shot the doctor to death. Hill was part of a Christian extremist group called the Army of God, which taught that abortion was legalized murder.

Hill’s actions were motivated by a claim that virtually all religions espouse: We have the truth that others lack.

Those claims can turn deadly when they become absolute and there is no room for interpretation, Kimball says.

“Absolute claims can quickly move into a justification of violence against someone who rejects that claim,” Kimball said. “It’s often a short step.”

Healthy religions acknowledge that sincere people can disagree about even basic truths, Kimball says.

The history of religion is filled with examples of truths that were once considered beyond questioning but are no longer accepted by all followers: inerrancy of sacred scripture, for example, or the subjugation of women and sanctioning of slavery.

If someone like Hall believes that they know God’s truth and they cannot be wrong, watch out, Kimball says.

“Authentic religious truth claims are never as inflexible as zealous adherents insist,” he writes in “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Yet there’s a flip side to warnings about claiming absolute truth: Much of religion couldn’t exist without them, scholars say.

Many of history’s greatest religious figures – Moses, Jesus, the Prophet Mohammed – all believed that they had discovered some truth, scholars say.

Ordinary people inflamed with a sense of self-righteousness have made the same claim and done good throughout history, says Carl Raschke, a theology professor at the University of Denver in Colorado.

The Protestant Reformation was sparked by an angry German monk who thought he had the truth, Raschke says.

“Martin Luther’s disgust at the worldliness of the papacy in the early 1500s inspired him to become a radical revolutionary whose ideas overturned the entire political structure in Europe,” Raschke said.

So how do you tell the difference between the healthy claims of absolute truth and the deadly? Scholars say to look at the results: When people start hurting others in the name of their religious truth, they’ve crossed the line.

2. Beware the charismatic leader.

It was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Japanese history. In March 1995, a religious sect called Aum Shinrikyo released a deadly nerve gas in a Tokyo subway station, leaving 12 people dead and 5,000 injured.

Two months later, Japanese police found Shoko Asahara, the sect’s founder, hiding in a room filled with cash and gold bars. Kimball, who tells the story of the sect in “When Religion Becomes Evil,” says Asahara had poisoned the minds of his followers years before.

Asahara demanded unquestioned devotion from members of his sect and isolated followers in communities where they were told that they no longer needed to think for themselves, Kimball says.

Any religion that limits the intellectual freedom of its followers, he says, has become dangerous. “When you start to get individuals who are the sole interpreters of truth, you get people who follow them blindly."

Charismatic leaders, though, often don’t start off being cruel. Jim Jones, who led the mass suicide of his followers in South America, was a gifted speaker who built an interracial church in San Francisco that did much good in the community. Few people at the beginning of his ministry could predict what he would become.

As time went on, though, his charisma turned cruel as he tolerated no questions to his authority and became delusional.

“Charismatic leadership is important, but in healthy religions, there’s always a process where questions are encouraged,” Kimball said.

Weaning followers away from corrupt charismatic leaders and bad religion can take years, but it can be done if one knows how to speak their language, says Ed Husain, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt will often deploy imams to reach out to young men in prison who have adopted “Islamism,” or extreme forms of Islam sanctioning violence against civilians, says Husain, who has written about Muslim extremism.

These Muslim clerics know the Quran better than the extremists and can use their knowledge to reach extremists in a place that logic and outsiders cannot penetrate, Husain said.

“The antidote to extremism is religion itself,” Husain said. “The problem is not to take Islam out of the debate but to use Islam to counter Islamism.”

3. The end is near.

In 1970, an unknown pastor from Texas wrote a book called “The Late, Great Planet Earth.” The book, which linked biblical prophecy with political events like Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, predicted the imminent return of an antichrist and the end of the world.

Author Hal Lindsey’s book has sold an estimated 15 million copies and spawned a genre of books like the “Left Behind” series. Many people are fascinated by the idea that the heavens will open soon because the end is near.

That end-times theology can turn lethal, though, when a follower decides that he or she will speed up that end-time by conducting some dramatic or violent act, says John Alverson, chairman of the theology department at Carlow University in Pittsburgh.

“A religious terrorist mistakenly believes that God has ordained or called him or her to establish the will of God on Earth now, not gradually and not according to the slow and finicky free will of other humans,” Alverson said.

Yet this impulse to see God’s intervention in human affairs now and not in some distant future can also be good, he says.

There are vibrant religious communities that teach that political and economic injustice must be addressed now. Liberation theology, for example, was a movement among pastors and theologians in Latin America that called for justice for the poor now, not in some future apocalyptic event, Alverson says.

“Hope is a good breakfast but not much of a supper,” Alverson said. “We can’t just live on the hope that justice will happen; we have to actually experience justice from time to time so that our hope can continue.”

4. The end justifies the means.

It was one of the biggest scandals the Roman Catholic Church ever faced, and the repercussions are still being felt today.

In January 2002, the Boston Globe published a story about Father John Geoghan, a priest who had been moved around various parishes after Catholic leaders learned that he had abused children. It was later revealed that Catholic officials had quietly paid at least $10 million to settle lawsuits against Geoghan.

Kimball says the Catholic scandal revealed another sign that a faith has turned toxic: Religious figures start justifying doing something wrong for a higher good.

 “The common theme was trying to protect the integrity of the church,” Kimball said of some Catholic leaders who covered up the crimes. “You get all of these rationalizations that we can’t let this scandal bring the whole church down, so we have to pay off this family and send the priests off to rehab.”

Religion is supposed to be a force for good. Still, it’s common that everyone from suicide bombers to venal church figures finds ways to justify their behavior in the name of some higher good.

Those rationalizations are so pervasive that religious movements that avoid them stand out, scholars say.

Jacobsen, the theology professor from Messiah College, cited the civil rights movement. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow activists renounced violence, even as they were attacked and sometimes murdered.

“They were willing to lay down their lives for what they believed in, but what’s incredible is, they practiced not retaliating when they suffered violence,” he said. “Those people really believed that God created everyone equal, and they were committed to the point of death.”

In some ways, it’s easy to say we would never adopt a form of religion that’s evil. But when we use the word “evil” to describe those who kill in the name of their faith, we’re already mimicking what we condemn, Jacobsen says.

In his new book, “No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education,” Jacobson writes that calling a religion evil is dangerous because “bad or wrong actions can be corrected, but typically evil needs to be destroyed.”

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

“To label someone or something as evil is to demonize it, putting it in a category of otherness where the rules of normal life do not apply, where the end often justifies almost any means,” Jacobson writes.

And when we do that, we don’t have to read about radical imams or look at angry YouTube videos to see how easy it is for someone to drift toward religious extremism, he says.

We need only look at ourselves.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Culture wars • Egypt • Fundamentalism • History • Islam • Jesus • Leaders • Moses • Muslim • Quran

soundoff (3,810 Responses)
  1. drakon

    False flag

    April 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  2. Tim

    The Neo-Jahadist extremist ideology is a geo-policital ideology popularized by Bin Linden and 9/11. It is sugar coated with religion for the sheep to swallow. Islam, theologically, is exactly the same has Christianity. It is a derivative of Christianity and Judaism. The Neo-Jahadist extremist should use the Bible; they will find more quotes that support Jahad. Just replace the Lord with Allah. Read Deuteronomy, read exodus, read Leviticus. All of the Abrahamic religions have been used by extremist. Let's not judge all Christians by the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    April 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      No, let's do judge them. The Westboro Baptists are christians in the truest sense. They follow the dogma set forth by the holy book. They are exemplary of what christianity teaches. It's funny that other christians want to distance themselves when they get reminded how disturbing and backward their religion truly is.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Yeah the christians hate it when you point out things like their brother in christ Hitler doing all his business in the name of the christian almighty.
      All Hitler would have had to do, according to the bible and the faith is to be truly repentant and accept jesus. If he did this in his final moments, he is in heaven.
      I can't go there though because I don't believe in myths.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Seyedibar: The Westboro Baptists do not follow the Bible. "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar."
      (I John 4:20)

      April 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  3. Bibletruth

    True religion is the truth and the truth shall set you free. True religion never produces something bad. It does produce conviction and when that conviction (which shows error and always encourages to change your error to do right/good in terms of the ten commandments) is rejected it causes problems, usually just rejection, but sometimes more. True religion always has as its underlying premise divine love and "whosoever will". True religion has no coerciveness or force. True religion is a most wonderful thing and transforms the heart/mind to be/do rightousness. Only divine love can accomplish this and it is there for the asking within conditions. Only true religion can vindicate the character of God which is so maligned in this world by at least 7 billion people.

    April 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Koresh and Jim Jones didn't think there was a thing wrong with their beliefs. Neither did Paul Hill.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Ben

      Very often, however, finding some truth that sets you free actually involves taking freedom away from others.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Ben

      Well, you've certainly got #1 nailed down (1. I know the truth, and you don’t.), and you certainly seem to be personally working on #2 (2. Beware the charismatic leader.). Should we suppose, then, that numbers 3 and 4 aren't too far behind?

      April 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • oOo

      I'm sure these people think they are working in His name as well (from AP):

      SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean police on Thursday arrested four people accused of burning a baby alive in a ritual because the leader of the sect believed that the end of the world was near and that the child was the antichrist.

      The 3-day-old baby was taken to a hill in the town of Colliguay near the Chilean port of Valparaiso on Nov. 21 and was thrown into a bonfire. The baby's mother, 25-year-old Natalia Guerra, had allegedly approved the sacrifice and was among those arrested.

      "The baby was naked. They strapped tape around her mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits they threw her on the bonfire alive," said Miguel Ampuero, of the Police investigative Unit, Chile's equivalent of the FBI.

      Authorities said the 12-member sect was formed in 2005 and was led by Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, 36, who remains at large.

      "Everyone in this sect was a professional," Ampuero said. "We have someone who was a veterinarian and who worked as a flight attendant, we have a filmmaker, a draftsman. Everyone has a university degree. "

      April 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • akmac65

      Do you understand the concept of "circular reasoning"? Essentially, it says I'm right because I say I'm right, without presenting any external evidence.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Bible lie
      You claim a lot about "true religion". What definition are you using for that? I am pretty sure your definition will not fit, but go ahead and give it a shot.

      It's like Bush " a return to traditional family values"...what exact definition are you using?

      April 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  4. hal 9001

    Religious belief is unfounded.

    Humans would live together more harmoniously if they would simply let X = X.


    April 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Seyedibar: I hope we will not restrict people's right to trust in something simply because you believe it is a fairy tale.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  5. Seyedibar

    Religion is the biggest impediment to social and scientific progress. How much longer are we going to indulge people's ridiculous right to trust in fairy tales?

    April 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  6. Ralph_in_FL

    Religion is a human invention. As such, it can never be any better than the people who practice it.

    April 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  7. Wake up

    All religion is fake and man made. A clear clue is that God has no religion. Some are benign or evolve out of violence but others turn evil and vile. islam is that later case. In that case, muslims have an inferiority psyche that can turn violent in a heart beat. If I am a christian and you insult Jesus, I may not like it but I will not get violent over it. I would let God take care of it and he does. A muslim needs the violent response to feel vindicated. and defend allah, mohamed and islam. Why does God need to be defended? That gives you the other clue that it is fake.

    April 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • akmac65

      The Christian church put plenty of people to death for disagreeing, reference the Inquisition, the Crusades, thousands of "witches" condemned to death.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  8. beerguy

    Stop calling it fanaticism. It is mental illness. Religious radicalism is crazy. Period. The Son of Sam killed people because his neighbor's dog told him to – people call him crazy. If he had said God told him to he would be a fanatic. It's ridiculous. These people are schizo, psycho, bipolar, whatever. They need Lithium and Prozac...not a better relationship with God.

    April 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • pbernasc

      totally agree with you .. now think... we do tell pathetic crazy stories to our kids about a guy who multiplied food and cured paralytic people all with the gesture of his hands .. walked on water ..
      now if that is not root of the craziness .. then what is? SO, you know, we can but blame ourselves

      April 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      pbernasc: A story does not become the root of craziness because you don't believe it.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  9. STFU

    "I know the truth, and you don’t." does that sound familiar to you?? [hint: Pakistani Mohammad A. Dar aka ISLAMIC FOUNDATION OF NOTHING BUT HATEFUL POSTS]

    April 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Steve Johnson

      It sounds like literally every religion in history, not just your pet example.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Get Real

    "When religious beliefs *become* evil"? Seriously??

    I'm so sick of apologists who make excuses for the evil that is religion! If you're "religious" and you think these people aren't, then you're a fool. Unlike most 'religious' people, these people obeyed their religions rather than cherry-picking them! They didn't water it down, or take it to an 'extreme', they did exactly what their religion teaches!!

    April 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • truebob

      Only a total tool would point the finger at the bad religion does without acknowledging the good. If you want black and white, buy an Oreo.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • milpitasguy

      Funny thing is that this only happens in Islam. I have yet to see a Buddhist detonate an IED or a Christian fundamentalist suddenly embrace "jihad" and start killing police.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • truebob

      This comment section is becoming a tool box. Anders Behring Breivik was a protestant who killed 8 people with bomb attacks and more that 60 kids with a gun while they were at camp. Breivik chose to be confirmed into the Lutheran Church of Norway at the age of 15.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  11. jarre d'etoiles

    Roll up! Roll up! Try out one of our comfy religions.
    La-Z-Boys for the lazy mind.

    April 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  12. cyprian2

    Take heed to the closing sentence,atheists!

    April 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What do you think atheists do? They don't look to some invisible deity to fix problems. They don't need the threats of hell to do the right thing.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      My invisible pink unicorn is also taking heed.
      Thanks for the helpful tip.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      what is that supposed to mean?

      April 28, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Ben

      If I say that the way some religious folks treat gays is evil, then I'm not demonizing them pre se, just their actions, correct?

      April 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • james

      Its pretty clear ...we are to look to ourselves for the answer , no imaginary friends required. Did you read more into it then required?

      April 28, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Get Real

      Why would the last sentence have anything to do with atheists?? This entire article is about theists and their evil beliefs! I suggest you learn about cognitive dissonance..!!!

      April 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • james of the house

      religious fanatics are conservative minded people regardless of what name they give a god and especially the ones that are too lazy to name him other than "the god". Mankind has been on the march towards socialization for millions of years, the part that holds us down is on its way out the door regardless, conservatism is a dying ember that was only for survival not meant to languish about forever like a dying fish. pun intended.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  13. MagicPanties

    The major religions would disappear in a generation if children weren't brainwashed to believe what their parents believe.

    These children also grow up believing in Santa Claus; kids learn whatever we teach them, no matter how ridiculous.

    April 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Science


      The ORIGIN story in the bible is a sham !

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life


      April 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  14. David

    The problem is, it is religion. When you are taught that if you do not honor your god, no matter what god you are praying to. that is where the conflict is. The book that you read this stuff is the cause of the conflict. The books do not agree with each other. Yes each one has its good and bad parts in it but they are not talking about the same god. You can remove the burka or the priest garment, they still remain different in their beliefs. Once each other understands that and do not give a free pass to each others gods, the conflict will end. Any religion has to stop praying to some old book of ideas and understand that the book of ideas maybe the problem.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      totally disagree...the problem is people don't really pay attention to the book but what they think...thinking is the problem.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • ira kropotkin

      the problem isnt religion...its when people begin to believe that their particular perspective on spirituality is the only perspective. you will never hear of indigenous tribes committing mass genocide or inquisitions on people who do not subscribe to their belief systems. thats because social control isnt a concern of tribal systems; social equilibrium is. and their religions are not about punishment (which is a natural development of social control) but about living in balance with the world. religion and social control are a volatile mix and the west (everything that is not indigenous is the "west”) is a breeding ground for religions that encourage hatred control, violence whether it is judeo-christianity (the triad: catholicism, islam, judaism and their off-shoots)....once all y’all learn how to deprogram yourselves from buying into an oppression ideology (in the form of judeo-christianity, capitalism, worshipping an elite, etc), then the world will see some real changes for the best.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Tim

      The Neo-Jahadist extremist ideology is a geo-policital ideology popularized by Bin Linden and 9/11. It is sugar coated with religion for the sheep to swallow. Islam, theologically, is exactly the same has Christianity. It is a derivative of Christianity and Judaism. The Neo-Jahadist extremist should use the Bible; they will find more quotes that support Jahad. They replace the Lord with Allah. Read Deuteronomy, read exodus, read Leviticus. All of the Abrahamic religions have been used by extremist. Let's not judge all Christians by the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Akira

      Good post, Ira.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      The truth is found in the bible and Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. Therein, is the plan of salvation revealed. Therein are found the elements which give proof of the truth of the bible. Without going into a long post, it is simply this : God (the only true God) tells what will happen before it happens...The True God has reserved this to himself so that one can, for example, read these 100s of Posts that rail against God/religion and know these folks have no clue about what they are talking about, and sadly, dont seem like they actually want to know. They are not lovers of truth, the absence of which according to Jesus will 100% result in being lost..i.e. result in eternal death. It isnt that they could not have known, but that they did not want to know, and the reason is because of the love of sin (i.e. transgression of the law; i.e breaking the 10 commandments; i.e. rejecting the love of God).

      April 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  15. Jamal

    Why not bring up the most absurd & violent political religious cult of our time, "Israel." A couple of crackpot Muslims are absolutely insignificant compared to the harm that Zionism has done in the past 70 years.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Lee

      A view of our peaceful Muslim friends who we helped free from persecution from Colonel Gadhafi, this is obviously their way of saying thanks.WW II – British Military Cemetery in Libya.

      Every time a joke and or cartoon is made about the Koran, the whole
      world turns upside down...!! and we are all called racists!!!!!!!!

      However they appear to do what ever they like and no one says
      anything...and the majority of people remain SILENT.

      See this video whilst it's available and before it is removed !!!http://www.youtube.com/embed/RtgbvotqVFE?rel=0

      PLEASE, circulate this disgraceful example of behaviour, world wide if you can. The real truth!
      This is the work of these peace loving Bast***'s

      April 28, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • CantonJim

      Since 1972 there have been 3,101 killed by Muslims in America in 70 terror attacks. The worldwide total for 2011 alone was 12,533 terrorist murders in the world according to a report by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). These were just the Sunni Muslim terrorists. Please show me the numbers that the Jews or Zionists put up for comparison. Oh wait, the Jews were busy winning Nobel Prizes and making the desert bloom. Muslims did not make anything bloom – just BOOM.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  16. anonymous

    "....1. I know the truth, and you don’t...."

    ABSURD. All religions, BY DEFINITION, say this implicitly or explicitly. This misguided "warning" is equivalent to saying that ALL religions are "evil". It totally fails to make morally significant distinctions. Mother Teresa "knew the truth" that she was supposed to help the poor, that in NO WAY makes her equivalent to Moslem murder-bombers who delusionally imagine that they "know the truth" that non-Moslems should have their legs blown off for the supposed "sin" of running a marathon, or simply being American.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Akira

      I think the author meant one person saying that, and not about any particular religion. Like David Koresh. Or Jim Jones. That kind of extremism.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Clearly, you've never looked into Hitchens' analysis of Mother Theresa

      April 28, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Jim Jones knew the "truth" too, that he was supposed to commit suicide and kill hundreds of people in the name of Christ.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Mother Teresa didn't help the poor. She stole money from them as she watched them die of disease and starvation. Mother Tersa worshiped suffering. She was one sick lady.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Jenny

      Anonymous, I could not agree more. The problem is, people do not think through the tenants of their own faiths. All religions do not work together. True exists, someone is right. Christ made absolute claims about His deity. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by Me." John 14:6. To say I believe in Him inherently requires that I do not believe in the claims of the rest. As a Christian, I had to make a decision about that statement, is He telling the Truth or wasn't He? Given the continuity of Scripture, I've decided it is Truth, meaning the others are wrong. Call me a fanatic, but I'm with Jesus!

      April 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Jenny

      I meant "tenets." Sorry.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Dippy's sub

      "Tenants" = person who owns or rents property

      "Tenets" = principles or beliefs.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Dippy's sub


      April 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Dan

    5. They start believing the nonsense about an after life and that it is better than this one.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Thomas

      From a strictly scientific perspective, show that there is no afterlife.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • The real Tom

      From a strictly scientific point of view, prove there is. While you're at it, prove that there isn't a teapot orbiting Jupiter.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Jokesterer

      Science isn't the one make crazy claims. The burden is on those making the crazy claims.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Luis Wu

      I'll take modern science over ancient mythology and primitive superst!tions any day.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Thomas

      The Real Tom, I will show there is an afterlife after he provides some substantiation for the comment " nonsense about an after life."

      April 28, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Science

      You asked for it Thomas grow up maybe ?

      For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

      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 |

      Breaking News

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


      April 28, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Kelly

      Science is not an infallible discipline, but has has given us huge advancements. So I can not treat it as my religion but as a useful tool to know about my origin

      April 28, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • The real Tom

      @Thomas: No, you won't, because there isn't any. If there were any proof, you dimwit, you'd be blaring it from loudspeakers and everyone would see that it was irrefutable.

      You are the one making the claim. Prove it or shove it.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Thomas, that's easy. From a scientific perspective, you are a brain. When your brain dies, you die. Thus, there is no life after death (such a statement is self-contradictory, by the way...)

      April 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Science

      by the way Thomas

      Mind mapping NO GOD(S) REQUIRED! Chad

      Gone but Not Forgotten: Yearning for Lost Loved Ones Linked to Altered Thinking About the Future

      Mar. 18, 2013 — People suffering from complicated grief may have difficulty recalling specific events from their past or imagining specific events in the future, but not when those events involve the partner they lost, according to a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.


      Maybe the bible needs to be updated

      April 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Science

      Oops Thomas

      April 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  18. Thomas

    According to a study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Atheists have a higher suicide rate than theists. Is bring your child to church bad for them? I think not.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Jokesterer

      Let's go to church so we don't kill ourselves!

      April 28, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Luis Wu

      How about Jim Jones, Westboro Baptist Church, Jerry Falwell, Jimmie Swaggart, Jim Bakker, David Koresh, abortion doctors being murdered, the Inquisition, the crusades, the Salem witch trials, etc. etc. etc. Christians are just as bad as any other religious group.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Jokesterer

      Hey! It worked. I no longer want to kill myself, I just want to kill others. Neat.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Akira

      @Jokester: I thought the same thing! Lol!

      April 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Thomas

      Jokesterer, You would like to make my statement much more irrational then it was intended. Data says that atheists kill themselves more. That is fact. Why is that a fact? Please explain.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      What is that supposed to show?

      April 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, Thomas, the study did NOT conclude what you claim. It "suggested" that atheists might have a higher rate of suicide. Maybe you should learn to read.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "You would like to make my statement much more irrational then it was intended."

      So you agree it WAS irrational, then. That's a good start, Thomas.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Hans

      It's "Religiously unaffiliated," the term used in the study. That includes those people believing in a god but not adhering to any doctrine of organized religion, and those people not claiming membership in any church.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Steve Johnson

      Has more to do with becoming ostracized from your family.

      It's very stressful to "come out" that you're an atheist, to a religious family. Most still stay in the closet.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      There is no direct correllation to belief in a deity and suicide. There is a direct correllation of people possessing higher intelligences being less religious, and lower intelligence being more religious.
      There is also direct correlation to increased suicide rates among the higher intelligent, which explains the study.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • JJ

      According to hard facts, Christians make up the vast majority of prison populations.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  19. Skorpio

    Islamic clerics and devout Muslims, as opposed to any other religion, are the most perverse, violent, irrational, intolerant and discriminatory people. These guys incite the masses of brainless Muslims to commit crimes and atrocities. It is NOT possible to ask them to imitate prophet Mohammed's highly immoral, cruel, merciless conduct otherwise these rats could be worse.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  20. Luis Wu

    When will people grow up and stop believing in ancient mythology and ignorant superst!tious nonsense? It never ceases to amaze me how many dimwitted people there are that live in a fairytale world of imaginary, invisible, supernatural beings in the sky. You have to be pretty dumb to believe in that ignorant nonsense.

    Christianity, like all religions, is nothing more than ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive society in an effort to explain existence and comfort people in the face of their mortality. I've read both the old and new testaments cover to cover. I've read many other religious texts as well. They're all just ancient mythology from primitive cultures, nothing more. Period.

    When I look around, I don't see a god flying around in a cloud or pillar of fire, I don't see sticks turning into snakes, I don't see rivers turning to blood or wine, seas parting, etc. etc. If that stuff was real and happened then, it would be happening now. I don't see miracles happening, all I see is a lot of ignorant people blindly accepting ancient mythology as fact, while rejecting modern scientific knowledge. If people would use their brains for a change, THINK about it using logic, reason and objectivity, then they would understand that it's just old myths. It's just so utterly obvious.

    What religion you are is mostly determined by where you were born and which mythology you’ve been indoctrinated with since birth. That right there should tell you it’s not real.

    All the gods that have been worshipped throughout history would fill 10 football stadiums, but of course everyone believes that THEIRS is the only one that’s real. It’s just all so stupid.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • John

      When are ppl going to grow up and realize that no matter how much you object or disagree, you are not going to change their minds about their Religious beliefs? It never ceases to amaze me how many dim witted non believers haven't figured this out yet.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Julie

      The audacity of such a logical comment. Who do you think you are? Someone who actually has a brain and uses it frequently? Objective thought, who would have known its possible. 🙂

      April 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Julie

      @ John, Dim witted? According to recent polls the fastest growing religious or non-religious group in the states are the "unaffiliated" at 18%. Mathematicians have calculated that within 100 years religion as we know it will consist of a very small minority. Someone must be changing their minds! When you say dim witted maybe you're referring to yourself.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      "Christianity, like all religions, is nothing more than ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive society in an effort to explain existence and comfort people in the face of their mortality." That is your opinion. Why should I believe your opinion is correct?

      There are many people that have considered the subject with logic, objectivity, and reason, and have come to believe in God as a result.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:26 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.