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. sybaris

    1. I know the truth, and you don’t. (Most Christians)
    2. Beware the charismatic leader. (Jesus)
    3. The end is near. (Most Christians)
    4. The end justifies the means. (Most Christians)

    Wow, and in what church do you NOT see these things?

    April 28, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Austin

      7No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:

      “What no eye has seen,
      what no ear has heard,
      and what no human mind has conceived”b —
      the things God has prepared for those who love him—
      10these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

      The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.c 14The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16for,

      “Who has known the mind of the Lord
      so as to instruct him?”d

      April 28, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Austin", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • RonFromNM

      Austin, you realize there are books other than the bible? To the religious zealots, it's as if there are only 2 in the world, the bible and the quran and they keep quoting these books as if they are the be all and end all to human knowledge. You want to believe? Great, but leave the rest of us out of it.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Starman

      Austin makes a good case for Harry Potter being god.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Allahu Akbar

      RonFrom NM: You left out two significant books. Jews have their Torah, and Athiests have Forrest Gump.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • jtokyo

      I think there are clear differences between beliefs of Christians and signs given in this article.

      1. I believe Jesus is the Truth, but you disagree. I do not believe I know the will of God.
      2. Yes, Jesus is/was a charismatic leader, but he does not condone violence. Even though in the Old Testament, God the Father encouraged violence (primarily genocide), I think it was (1) most enemies would not leave or convert willingly (2) it was to show the Jews that even if they purged every impurity from their society, sinful behavior still finds its way into society due to our sinful nature, not outside influences. But again, I don't claim to know the will of God, this is just my interpretation of God's commands to the Jews.
      3. I believe the end is near, but I don't try to make "the end" happen as the article describes. This means we need to prepare ourselves and tell others about Jesus, not kill them.
      4. I do not believe the end justifies the means. If someone commits a crime, not matter their role in a church, they must pay for that crime in the judicial system. If someone commits a sin, claims to be a Christian, and does not have remorse, then he/she must answer to his brothers and sisters in Christ and ultimately God.

      April 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  2. Science

    Hey Sirman..............Genetics might learn someting ?

    Scientists Find Genes Linked to Human Neurological Disorders in Sea Lamprey Genome



    Facts work

    April 28, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Science

      Oops wrong place !

      April 28, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • SImran

      Great. It is amazing how relentless efforts by people dedicated in their fields leads to path-breaking discoveries and innovations. There is so much happening at every moment and the beauty of it all is that now we connect.

      True as Richard Feynman opined: “I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.”

      April 28, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  3. Golden Ass


    April 28, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  4. Johnny B.

    For sure abortion is like killing a person, just like during the war you have to kill in order to survive., But still you can do something about it. This is the world today., It's filled with havoc.....and sometimes action speak louder then words.

    "to be or not to be"

    April 28, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  5. fsdfs

    Obama is a terrorist.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Were you alive when George W. Dolt and Darth Cheney were around? Apparently not.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Golden Ass

      No words spoken were ever more true. The shrub was too.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Austin

      both of you are right. obama =bush cia invention.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • LIVE!

      (One of Austin's dreams – moments ago.)

      April 28, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • AhhhhYeah

      I guess that makes Bush Satan!

      April 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Allahu Akbar

      And a RACIST.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  6. fsdfs

    Americans are all terrorists. Nothing they say or do will ever be anything more than trash.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • mama k

      Well aren't you a cuddly beacon of hope.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Austin

      not all of them are terrorists. A mature Christian is one who knows that he/she is not an american at all, and one who knows that murder and war are not what we are called to cause.

      Love thy enemy. Turn the cheek. Suffer like the Master and Lord did, and dont get entangled with the worlds affairs.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • jason


      April 28, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Austin

      Jason , good call. this is sideways subliminal seance slander.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • oOo

      Austin: "A mature Christian is one who knows that he/she is not an american at all"

      Hopefully the "mature Christian" is following the Constitution which makes no mention of God

      April 28, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Sane Person

      lol "mature christian". If you believe in invisible people that grant wishes behind the next cloud, and super beings so powerful that they just cant seem to make thier desires clear to thier creations, then you most certainly are not a mature person.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Emm

      How am I a terrorist when all I like are puppies?

      April 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  7. ElectricLion

    "Science flies you to the moon. Religion just flies you into buildings." I think that covers it very well. In no other endeavor in life (that I know of) is it perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, to kill your fellow man over something that is completely imaginary. Never in the history of mankind has a non-believer witnessed a supreme being from any pantheon speaking or communicating in any way to anyone else. At no time in history has a religious event (miracle) been objectively witnessed, verified, and recorded.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  8. popseal

    110,000,000 America cases of STDs, 50% + divorce rate, 65,000,000+ aborted progeny, and the secular atheist 'religion' that has produced these consequence is going to tell the rest of us about truth and righteousness. Thanks but no thanks. You best stick to afternoon TV and wait for obamanation to provide your every need.
    The worst of it, we now shout over each others' head and no longer discuss or debate. Slander and accusation is the vernacular.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • midwest rail

      " Slander and accusation is the vernacular. "
      You mean like your entire first paragraph ?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • mama k

      Don't Christians have the lion's share of abortions in the U.S.?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Starman

      Atheists = 20% of the population, Atheists = <1% of prison population. nuff said chump.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • yikesboy

      Popseal, how do you blame society's ills in the USA upon "secular atheism" (sic) when the country sports such a high number of religious people? Better to use Norway or even Canada as an example...but oops, they have a much better situation in virtually all measures of societal health.

      April 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • AhhhhYeah

      pop the VAST majority of Americans call themselves christian. This is called a fact. I provided a fact. Now you. Prove, scientifically that the christian god is real.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  9. billmosby

    We are God's pets and he hates it when we pee on his heavenly carpet. That's about the best analogy I can come up with.

    The best way to deal with God is to assume he doesn't exist and just try to be good.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Gazork

      Try to be good? Being disrespectful is not good.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  10. freedomliker

    CNN blames the Waco disaster on the people who died? They were terrorists? They don't cite a single example of islamic fundamentalists. I guess this is fair and balanced. Thats why the ratings are where they are for CNN.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • billmosby

      Looks like it. The whole thing was an exercise in gun control, really. Koresh was thought to be into illegally converting semi-auto firearms into full-auto. And it was also thought he liked .50 BMG rifles. As for his habit of "marrying" underaged girls, the authorities were not really interested.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • anonymous

      "..... Koresh was thought to be into illegally converting semi-auto firearms into full-auto. .."

      Not one of which was actually found in the ashes.

      And be it also noted that one member of Koresh's church, actually had a Class 3 Federal firearm license - the kind that police gunsmiths, movie special f/x guys, etc have - that ALLOWS you to have full-auto weapons. These licenses are VERY hard to get and you have to be an extremely trustworthy person to obtain one.

      The Waco raid was a test case to see if the gov't could get away with repression. They didn't get the response they were hoping for.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • The real Tom

      Nonsense. Koresh was endangering others. He got what he asked for. Only idiots think there was some government conspiracy.

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

      "They don't cite a single example of islamic fundamentalists." No need to. That's in the news everyday. Don't you watch Fox?

      April 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  11. lol??

    Mob power:

    "Rom 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."

    April 28, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Science

      Go pound sand lol??

      April 28, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  12. Julie

    So is this author saying for example, there are NO absolutes in the bible? There certainly are absolutes – why would anyone
    even bother to believe in God if they don't take seriously what the Word of God says? I did not agree with this article as it is making one believe those of us who truly believe are idiots – if one truly believes they are the exact opposite of what the article states and those people would have no faith as Jesus Christ said Thou Shalt Not Kill – that is an absolute

    April 28, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Will

      @Julie – Jesus Christ said "thou shall not kill"? You sure? Or was that one of the ten comandments, the fifth or sixth depending on the version of holy scripture that you subscribe to, that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai long before Jesus even existed in the Old Testament. Case in point......

      April 28, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • AhhhhYeah

      if I had a dollar for every time I saw a christian eat pork and wear mixed fabrics I'd have more money that Romney.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  13. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    Humans, for better or worse, recognize "good" and "evil" in the universe. And yet, "good" and "evil" are purely subjective; i.e., they are not absolute. For instance, murder is OK in self defense. Why do all these weak-minded religious dolts have to anthropomorphize "good" and "evil" into "gods, angels, devils, demons"? Rather puerile when you step back and look at the big picture, huh?

    April 28, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  14. One one

    One more:

    If you don't believe as I do, my god will send you to hell to be tortured forever.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Austin

      God is not posessed by humans. The Holy Spirit sustains His own ministry through His servants like the apostle paul, who killed Christians before He was used by God to administer the truth, which does carry ultimate authority.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Science

      austin............... it is your CULT ............that religion created.......................feel good to be part of the devil's cult ?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  15. My complaint(s)

    And I'd like to add a few things...
    1.) there is no evidence to support any diety.
    2.) abortion is legalized murder...and so is your breakfast sausage.
    3.) Humans suck

    April 28, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Austin

      Humans do suck, but there is a God. His truth is being revealed. The problem is sin. He is risen.

      26“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      "IS being revealed"??? REALLY?! You mean it's been 2000 years and we STILL don't have the real story? Are you kidding? HA HA HA!

      April 28, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • oOo

      #1 – agreed.

      #2 – realistically speaking, if you had your way with abortion, you would then really not like what breakfast sausage consumption would then look like. wishful thinking that you can change which parts of social tendency?

      #3 – humans are humans.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Not to mention that the fossil record shows that modern humans have been on the planet for close to 30,000 years, so then, why would any "god" wait 28,000 years to even just start to tell us about this alleged narrow path to salvation, blah blah blah?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Austin

      That is a different game you play , I am simply giving you the authoritative truth about the living God. I am right here and I have experienced spiritual revelation. That is the proof that will sustain my faith for the rest of my life. Science is outside of the reality and the powerful faith and resurrection power that God provides to those who understand sin.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Science

      And they have seen this have you not Austin.................. Are you in DENIAL Austin ?

      Was the bible around back then ?

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

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


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

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

      No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !

      Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

      Apr. 23, 2013 — Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.


      April 28, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      SIN? You mean like when pope Benny 16 declared that reckless driving is now a sin? Ha ha ha! It is to laugh!

      April 28, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • oOo

      I used to think maybe Austin had sleep apnea. Now I just think he's so sex-deprived that his dream world has virtually taken over his ability to rationalize anything.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • jimmer

      So we are talking cannibalism here?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • SImran

      Neurophysiological perspective on SIN. An interesting article.


      April 28, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Austin

      No s.ex deprivation though is not a license to sin. It is an indication that man should marry woman and in a mature way love the bird for life. That takes 2 committed people who are willing to look to God as the focal point of life, which He is.

      The truth is fundamental and extreme. Heaven and hell are extreme, and being born again is extreme. The struggle with your own flesh and deception is extreme, every day. Sin is an extreme and insane reaction to God who is everywhere.

      War is what people do, murder is what people do. Death in war is not always deemed as murder. There is judgment. God is the judge. Religon does not make war. Man makes war. God's judgment is authoritative and until Christ comes back, there is no ordained war (i think)

      April 28, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • SImran

      Why do you call god as HE?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Austin

      Because every form of God is masculine and not feminine.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Sane Person

      Austin, that is your delusion. Not everyone elses. Go sing it on the mountain.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • SImran

      Really, and you are the schizophrenic who seems to have seen every form of god? So you know. Cool!

      April 28, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • AhhhhYeah

      No where in the bible does it say abortion is a sin.
      It does say eating breakfast sausage is.
      Just sayin.....

      April 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  16. bruno altimino

    This is another attempt to excuse Islam by attempting to highlight extremism in other religions. Don't be fooled. Islam is the only religion that is a threat to Americans. Cut and burn the tree of Islam.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • My complaint.

      With or without dieties governments want to subvert anyone who doesn't fit into the specified mold.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • NYOD

      Actually, Christianity has caused just as mant deaths in its name as Islam.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Damia Savon

      Well you just proved the article's point didn't you? There are violent, religious extremists of all faiths but you are too blind to see it and focus, like a sheep, on just one.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Saraswati

      Islam may be the greatest threat here, today, but just ask the families of anyone killed at the women's health clinics or gay and les.bian clubs about whether Christians can cause the same problems. Look at the offshoots of the Christian Patriot movement. Talk to people in Sri Lanka, Norway, Turkey and Peru about the problems other very diverse groups can cause.

      At any given time a particular religion will be the greatest threat in a given area. In Ja.pan it is still Aum Shinrikyo's descendants. In many places, yes, it certainly is Islam. But to ignore the fact it could happen from variants of almost any religion is to risk this kind of violence showing up anywhere.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  17. Cruiser

    Chechens are Muslim terrorists. Just like Pakistanis and Al Qaeda are Muslim terrorists.

    April 28, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Austin

      does the us give money guns and support to Qaeda in Syria and the Taliban in Afghanistan?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • NYOD

      So, all Chechens are terrorists, or just the terrorist ones? What a dumb and ignorant comment.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Damia Savon

      All evangelicals are murders too by that logic.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • AhhhhYeah

      Actually "god" is the most successful terrorist.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  18. Austin

    I think atheism is a cult. just being real. It is an anti-christ religion.

    I think the main thing we should do is realize that truth and God, are extreme values. Following God, one hundred percent , is considered fundemental and extreme. These are good qualities. How can we do this without going astray on false doctrine? Does the new testament ordain war?

    When Christ comes back during the time of anti-christ when he kills (anti christ system, secular world wide) 1/3 of the worlds population (white horse) , Christ comes back and leads a war that permanently deals with false religion. The rebels will be punished. Is this extremism?

    Is war always bad? Is heaven being holy unfair?

    April 28, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      To call atheism a religion is like calling the act of not collecting stamps a hobby.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Your beliefs are irrelevant as atheism can not possibly be a cult.

      You have already shown that you are not very mentally stable, and not very good decision maker. You addiction to your newfound religion is just another in a line of addictions, and you now ry to use your newfound "faith" as a weapon against others.
      You really need to study your religion a bit more. It wasn't intended as weapon.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Doug

      When not collecting stamps becomes something you devote time to, something you routinely discuss with others, and something you parrot stupid phrases about, it becomes pretty close to a hobby.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Austin

      Yes Jesus Christ is the weapon against evil. And no you are not the enemy. Richard, do you need to get into conversations by taking cheap shots? What is it about my point that is not biblical, therefore can you avoid a conversation with a cheap shot you little person?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • The real Tom

      "I think atheism is a cult."

      More evidence that you're a complete moron.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Austin

      Trust me, when you know God is there because He supernaturally revealed Himself, when the proof is the Holy Spirit the living God, then looking at your circle of atheist people running the education of children, it is clear that you are brainwashing cult satanists.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Not a cheap shot...just reading your posts you by your own admission are a bad decision maker, with addictive personality disorder. You believe in demons from your dreams indicating a less than stable mind.

      You are trying to threaten people with your bible....trying to use fear as a weapon is the very definition of terrorism. You would be best off getting some actual professional help. Not a cheap shot, just observation based on your own admissions.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Austin

      Richard, if I sat there and acted like you needed mental help for being a non believer, you would be insulted. And God is compassionate and patient. You on the other hand play by a different standard because you cant accept what you cant see, unless it pertains to science then you dogmatically put your faith in it. The fact that God is usually spirit makes thing complicated by by no means can you take a persons faith in God, given by God, and punitively judge it based upon your own misguided lack of faith and ignorance ( not calling you ingnorant as a person, you just lack the faith given by God)

      Ephesians 6:10-18
      New International Version (NIV)
      The Armor of God

      10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

      You should fear God. and you should be scared , terrified of hell. Satan has no right over the prison of unbelief that contains the masses of God rejecting souls.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Damia Savon

      Atheism denies the existence of a God so it cannot be a cult. Do you not find it ironic that Jesus firmly preached pacifism yet some monk has weird visions after sitting in a cave too long and says that when Jesus returns he will engage in a Christian revenge fantasy. The saved will get to go to Heaven to watch and laugh as all the unbelievers go through horrific pain and suffering and then eternal torture. That this rather sick and twisted view of God was accepted into the Bible shows just how easily and quickly Christianity turned away from the beliefs of its founder and just use him as a figurehead for their own path. It is not surprising though consider exactly how contradictory the New Testament is about Jesus and exactly how little of Jesus appears in the New Testament. The gospels even state explicitly that Jesus taught many things but, ooops, leaving those out. Seriously, look at how much of the New Testament is actually Jesus teaching and his words vs. how much was written by others.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • The real Tom

      "then looking at your circle of atheist people running the education of children, it is clear that you are brainwashing cult satanists"

      You should probably stop posting while you're behind, Austin. With every utterance, you look more idiotic. What "circle of atheist people running the education of children"? "Brainwashing cult satanists'? How can someone who doesn't believe there is any such thing as Satan brainwash anyone into believing such a creature exists? Why are you so damn stupid?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • The real Tom

      "Richard, if I sat there and acted like you needed mental help for being a non believer"

      What "if"? You already do this, Austin. Continually.

      Richard didn't take any "cheap shot." As he said, he's basing his statement on your behavior and on your own admissions. How many times do you need to read the same thing from many, many different posters to wake up and realize they might be correct? That you DO need mental health help?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      I do not fear god.
      I fear those who blindly believe in god, as they have proven to be dangerous.
      Do not try to threaten me with your religion, you clearly do not understand it properly.

      By your own admission, you were a hell raiser, got caught , went to prison. That shows your poor decision making ability. You claimed you were in a chemically altered state that by any admission, was off the deep end, indicating that this was not the first time for whatever chemicals you were on, all indicating an addictive personality.

      You religion is just another addiction. I have seen it many times in many other addicts.
      Religion is normally a better addiction that say heroin, but when it reaches into the fanatic, as it clearly has with you, it is not healthy. I am very serious, you need real professional help.

      I am not a satanist nor am I part of any cult. Satan is just another construct of your religion, created by god, so when you blame satan, you blame god. He created satan, knowing full well the consequences.

      I just have a better grasp of reality.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Sam

      and I think you are insane. I love how religious wacko's try to turn it around on non believers. I don't believe in God. I don't give money to a tythe so the leader can live high on the hog. I don't worship some false diety. I live a good life and am a decent person. How the hell is that a "cult"? Nice try but no cigar...

      April 28, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • Sam


      "You should fear God. and you should be scared , terrified of hell."

      The only thing I fear and am terrified of is that I have to walk the earth with nutters like you.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Starman

      I hope you pay your religious shamans well, they've done well with you.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Starman

      \\Trust me, when you know God is there because He supernaturally revealed Himself, when the proof is the Holy Spirit the living God, then looking at your circle of atheist people running the education of children, it is clear that you are brainwashing cult satanists.\\ Yes! "Jesus is comming back in my lifetime" ==> Said by a billion dead Christians.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  19. Master

    When the Boston bombing news broke out, there was only a 0.01% chance that someone other than Muslims did it. Islamic terrorism is the problem.

    April 28, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Doug

      I guess all the domestic terrorists of the last 20 years were just pretending not to be Muslim, then.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • anonymous

      ".....I guess all the domestic terrorists of the last 20 years were just pretending not to be Muslim, then....."

      Domestic terrorists always choose targets with MEANING to their cause - eg, Earth First sabotages logging trucks, anti-abortion guys blow up clinics, anti-Christians burn churches, a tax hater crashed a plane into an IRS offices, a government hater blew up a federal building.... Always the target in some way is related to the cause.

      But there is NOBODY in the USA who thinks that marathons, destroy Mother Earth or bring on the wrath of the Lord. And people of every race, religion, and political view run marathons. There's no "anti-marathon" movement. Hence, the only possible purpose for such an attack, is simply to get AMERICANS. Therefore I KNEW it was foreign.

      April 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  20. dragonfire77

    Faith in science will fly you to the stars. Faith in Religion will fly you into buildings.

    April 28, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Cruiser

      That's right. And we all know which faith that was.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • MM

      Faith in science will land you into the lake of fire. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will get you to New Jerusalem.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • JJ

      One doesn't have "faith" in science. One "accepts" science.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • NYOD

      Gotta love all those Christians who think their religion somehow better than Islam. If any of these people had bothered to read the Bible, they would realize that Christianity is NOT a religion of peace.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Damia Savon

      You can bet if there were airliners in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries then rabid Christians would have flown them into buildings.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • E

      Science and religion are polar opposites, huh?

      Let me introduce you to a man named Sir Isaac Newton: one of the co-inventors of calculus and the father of modern physics, and also a devout Christian.

      Also, don't try saying that his religion had absolutely nothing to do with his scientific endeavors. He himself claimed that the motive behind his study of the natural world was to better understand God's creation. Science and religion can be very much complementary – only the uninformed would pick a side and want their side to "win".

      Look, I don't care if you don't believe in God. I just find it odd that some of you would spend so much time criticizing something that you don't think exists. If atheism is truly superior to belief in any religion, then *prove it* through your own living and your own actions. You claim that it is not necessary to believe in any God in order to live a good life. Okay, fair enough – I don't dispute that. But then why do you spend your time mocking religious people instead of actually making any change in the world? They're not going to relinquish their beliefs just because of a few words you post on the internet, and neither are they going to change your mind, so all of you are effectively wasting your time.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:25 am |
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About this blog

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