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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. Miguel Caron

    I could take those 4 "signs" and point to any major religion and claim they are evil.
    This list is baby's first cult experience, not the true breadth of the evils sects do.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Chad

      "I know the truth and you dont"
      To take such an att itude is to seek truth from facts. "Facts" are all the things that exist objectively, "truth" means their internal relations, that is, the laws governing them, and "to seek," means to study. We should proceed from the actual conditions inside and outside the country, the province, county or district, and derive from them, as our guide to action, laws that are inherent in them and not imaginary, that is, we should find the internal relations of the events occurring around us. And in order to do that we must rely not on subjective imagination, not on momentary enthusiasm, not on lifeless books, but on facts that exist objectively; we must appropriate the material in detail and, guided by the general principles of Marxism-Leninism, draw correct conclusions from it.
      - Mao Tse Tung "Reform Our Study" (May 1941)

      "The end justifies the means"
      "The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end." Leon Trotsky

      "Beware the charismatic leader"
      ==>cult of personalities of state atheism, Joseph Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il-sung are unrivaled.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_personality
      Examples are predominately atheist/muslim

      April 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      none of the examples you gave were muslim

      April 28, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  2. syman pons

    Jesus said, "You know a tree by it's fruit."

    Christians who commit violent acts, past, present, and future in the name of Christianity do not understand the message of their Lord Jesus. And, they are not behaving in the ways they should. The fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace patience, kindness, meekness gentleness, and self control (of one's own passions and behavior). The great commission is to share the "Good News" about there being a way to reconnect to one's Creator. It has nothing to do with cramming religious doctrine down other people's throats.

    True Christianity is only about our learning how to be, and then being respectful of all other spiritual beings. We are also to encourage those around us to do likewise. It is that simple. That is the whole of true real religion.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      How is it respectful to cast anyone who doesn't believe in your god into a pit of eternal hellfire? Face it, your religion is evil.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • syman pons

      I have never said such a thing.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      So then you aren't a true christian.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      A perfect example of the no true scotsman argument.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Dippy

      Apparently Jeebus didn't know the difference between "its" and "it's".

      April 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • BukkakeJack

      I'm going to challenge you to use the google machine and look up "No True Scotsman", because that's the illogical fallacy you just used. In other words, you made a very weak argument.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • syman pons

      You attack, but you do not bless. People who think they are Christians, but are not, do this same thing. Fighting the Crusades is one example of people saying they were Christians when clearly, they had not the slightest idea of what true Christianity is. It is unproductive and unhelpful to a person's spiritual development to behave in this way.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      Wow, he did it again.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Hey symons. I have no blood on my hands. I don't take part in your holy wars which are full of beheadings and some of the worst tortures devised by man. So when you say I attack, remember that I am merely exercising my freedom of speech while sick cultist christians such as yourself commit atrocities daily on the innocent. You are beyond filth to even compare the two. Disgusting is not a strong enough word to describe you and your kind. The atrocities committed during your cult's Holy Wars are DIRECTED IN THE BIBLE. Get that through your brainwashed head! Christianity is an evil cult!

      April 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • syman pons

      If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other cheek to him that he might strike it also." Jesus said this. What does it mean? "If someone takes your coat, give him your tunic (shirt) also."Jesus said this. What does it mean? "If someone demands that you carry a l;oad for him for a distance, carry it twice as far." Jesus said this. What does it mean?

      The Non Believer, You talk around the important issue of good moral behavior, but you do not address it. You do not discuss good moral behavior. Why are you doing this?

      April 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      John 14:15 says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."). So the first line of response might be to point the Christian to such statements. The problem with this and the reason I described this route as most challenging is that the Christian bible can be used to support virtually anything. There are so many inconsistencies that it is difficult to come away without concluding that it is utter gibberish.

      Some will argue that Jesus only abolished certain rules while endorsing others. Thus, I believe that Matthew 5-7 is often used to support the notion that Jesus came to fulfill prior law so that continued observance was no longer necessary. Of course, nobody seems to agree on what was supposedly abolished and what was supposedly retained. In fact, interpreting the meaning of "fulfill" is a massive controversy (Matthew 5:17 says, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill"). Spend a little time on Google, and you'll get a sense for just how contentious this issue remains.

      A second response, and the one which I tend to prefer takes the Christian's claim at face value and probes the implications. I might remind them that their Ten Commandments are found in the Old Testament. I might remind them that the biblical basis for anti-gay bigotry is found there as well. If this does not get me where I want to go, I might present them with some of the more atrocious parts of their New Testament and see how they excuse those. I might share some of the many contradictions of the New Testament. And then, the character of this supposed Jesus figure could be addressed too. Finally, I might demonstrate how the New Testament is cherry-picked as well.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      According to your version of Christianity, what happens if I don't believe?

      April 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • syman pons

      The Non Believer

      You were create in the image of God (Almighty, the Creator of the universe).

      Your body is a container in which holy spirit should be contained. If you do the things and entertain the thoughts and desires that are holy, you are living as a true son (or daughter), of your Creator.

      You will dwell in the presence of your Creator for eternity.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      You answered what happens if I do believe. What happens if I don't.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • syman pons

      You will separate yourself from your Creator. I'm not sure that would be like for someone, but it is probably not the best choice.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • syman pons

      Non Believer

      It is clear from the things you have written here, that you are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven. Our Creator may surprise you, yet. Were you dedicated or baptized as a child? If so, then God has his hand on you, and you are struggling like a caught fish. Keep struggling. It always gets most difficult just before He reveals himself to a person.

      With respect, Syman Pons

      April 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • syman pons

      To God-of-lunatics-creation:

      If you love Jesus, then you obey his commandments.

      "And Jesus said: "The great commandment is: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And, the like this (or the same as this), You shall love your neighbor as your self." "

      You are angry at God because He wants you to stop doing something(s) that you don't want to stop doing.

      Sin is the act of assaulting another spiritual being, be it God or be it man. God defines what is an assault. We do not.

      You will do well to think about these things I have just written to you. God is waiting for you to turn back to Him. But it means you must do it his way.

      April 28, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  3. Kat

    I wonder how peaceful the average American would behave if a foriegn president whose role model is Jesus and who gets advice from "the heavenly father" forged evidence to launch a war against american that killed, maimed and made homeless millions of people. Would anyone blame their religion for retaliating, as american media seems to do now instead of soul-searching the results of wrong wars

    April 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      So you know that religion is the cause of these wars and then you deny it in the last sentence?

      April 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • lol??

      If the socie progressives hadn't destroyed the consti*tution the prez's would not have so much power. Sorry you lose.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  4. Ed

    What an outstanding article. This same piece could also be used to explain how totalitarian dictatorships can emerge, which makes the information in this article that much more prescient. Basically, any society or group that does not allow for any freedom of thought, claims to have the exclusive right to the truth, needs to be watched with caution.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Yep.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  5. Kel

    John 15:18

    April 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  6. Kat

    when the media becomes a government war propaganda tools: when it goes out of its way to spin and twist simple confessions by the terror suspects of their motive as retaliation for wars by saying it was instead all about religion.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • ME II

      whaa?

      April 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Edweird69

      Your post doesn't make any sense. Unless you're trying to say "the truth hurts"...religion really isn't a good thing. That would make some sense.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Actually the bombers were reacting to your Holy War. "details emerged of the general's sermons to evangelical Christian groups depicting the "war on terror" as a religious crusade. "We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this," Gen Boykin told an audience last year."

      April 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  7. ROBERTL QUETZALCOATL

    RELIGION DOESN'T TURN EVIL IT'S EVIL TO BEGIN WITH.
    THERE IS NO GOD AND TO BRAINWASH PEOPLE TO
    BELIEVE THERE IS, IS EVIL FROM THE START. ALL
    BRANCHES OF SCIENCE CONTRADICT RELIGION.
    RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM IS FANATICAL STUPIDITY.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Designation-Theta

      THERE IS ONLY TIME CUBE

      April 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  8. Kat

    test

    April 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I didn't know there was going to be a test today....I don't like it when they spring them on you last minute.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  9. ScottCA

    The Logical root of morality.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdBJL1c7xUI&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Designation-Theta

      Scott,

      You're not really helping with the videos. Mostly because you're committing 3 of the 4 signs listed above.

      1: "I know the truth and you don't" = Repeatedly forcing your message with videos that nobody really wants to watch and have asked you to stop posting.

      2: "Beware the Charismatic Leader" – I would think the subjects in your videos count as Charismatic Leaders you're following...rather obsessively.

      3: "The Ends justify the means" – Spamming a board with constant atheist videos to annoy people into believing your way.

      I'm an atheist too man, but I don't need Richard Dawkins or Steven Pinker to prove it all to me. You're being kind of a dick with the spam and it's not really helping your cause. It'd be better if you just said your peace -in your own words- and left it at that.

      Otherwise you look like you're turning atheism into a faith with it's own preachers, when that's totally not what it is. At least not to all of us.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      Agreed. Scott we're in your corner but the Argument from Youtube isn't exactly valid.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • ScottCA

      I posted a video for people to watch and take what they wish from it. Where in this did I make any statement other than here is an informative video you may find interesting and choose to watch if you wish.

      And as for the list above I really could not care less what it says, it is not law nor does it dictate reality. Logic and rational deduction are the only means of deducing reality.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • ScottCA

      If you have identified a fallacy in Professor Pinker's talk, then please make note of it. But I will trust this well respected Harvard Cognitive Scientist over your opinion until you properly outline a logical fallacy..

      April 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Designation-Theta

      Denialism doesn't help. You and everybody here knows why you are doing what you've been doing. Being disingenuous about it doesn't make it any less silly.

      If logic and rational deduction are the only means of deducing reality, then let's get back to doing that instead of posting videos of the various athiest choir members like we're trying to prove something.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Scholar

      Religion developed from morality, a need to embody attributes of behavior in beings to emulate, a chassis for morals good and evil.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Weak replies, that do not in anyway retort the logic and reason of Professor Pinker's statements.
      Your intellects fall short and enter the realm of delusion.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • ScottCA

      "If logic and rational deduction are the only means of deducing reality, then let's get back to doing that instead of posting videos of the various athiest choir members like we're trying to prove something."

      You have serious issues if you think You or I have more to give to this conversation than lectures from some of the brightest and most intelligent minds of our time.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Designation-Theta

      Scott.

      This is a discussion board. If they want to add something, they're more than welcome to come on down and do that. Hell I wouldn't have had a problem if you posted 1 or 2 videos because that would give people something to discuss.

      Posting 7 or 8 in quick succession and even posting one with "What's that? More Vids? No problem. You are right its unbalanced without more."........That's what we call in the business "Being a dick"

      I'm not saying these highly intelligent men don't have anything to add to the conversation.

      I'm saying you don't.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      Arguing from Pinker's, Dawkins, and Hitchens authority is no better than arguing from Biblical authority. You may be an atheist but you don't use reason.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Designation-Theta its a good thing that what you think really doesn't add up to squat all.

      April 30, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • ScottCA

      The Non Believer – I'm not arguing from their authority I am allowing these well spoken and educated men to present their own arguments there is a large difference.

      And It really is good that I do not have to be concerned with what you think of my posts. I shall post what I deem appropriate.

      April 30, 2013 at 2:47 am |
  10. syman pons

    We have been put on the Earth by the Creator to learn how to be loving and considerate toward the other spiritual beings (people), among whom we live. This is the purpose of our lives, plain and simple. Speaking contemptuously to one another is the exact opposite of what you are suppose to be practicing.

    Why don’t you people with bad feelings toward others know this?

    You are to treat each other with love, consideration and respect. This is what you were created to learn how to do during your short life here on planet Earth.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Observer

      Everyone should follow the concept of the Golden Rule. It's especially important for all the Christian hypocrites who pick on gays or trash pro-choice people by pretending the Bible ever mentions abortion.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Well I don't see atheists waging never ending holy wars and clamoring for the destruction of humanity. They should be given every nobel peace prize from now on considering that amidst all these modern day holy wars and atrocities, they only speak with their mouth and not a hard hand.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Designation-Theta

      Further proof that Marijuana will eventually be legal in all 50 states.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      You think we were put on earth:
      a) by a creator...there is no evidence of this
      b) for a purpose...there is no reason to believe there is a purpose.

      Your statement is flawed as the presumption is flawed.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • DE

      What you state is hard to do when religions in general teach hate anyone who is different than you are.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      What solipsism.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Pockets

      ALL religions are poison. There is no god or "creator" . Religion is a cancer on this planet.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Which creator, syman? Shiva the Destroyer? By whatever name they call it, that seems to be the one the believers worship.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • syman pons

      Definition of SOLIPSISM
      : a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also : extreme egocentrism
      — so·lip·sist noun
      — so·lip·sis·tic adjective
      — so·lip·sis·ti·cal·ly adverb

      April 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • BaZINGA

      While scientific reseach continues to find answers of where our planet and the human race originated, with some brilliant fact based and proof tested results, there has been no evidence offered whatsoever that a god exists, so if you have testable theories as to the existance of a god please present it with the peer-reviewed evidence.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  11. ..

    Scott, cut the shit with the vids. You're screwing up the board.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • ScottCA

      What's that? More Vids? No problem. You are right its unbalanced without more.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBwtpIu5mwc&w=640&h=360]

      April 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • ....

      Keep on going, Scott – if they don't have the bandwidth or are trying to blog on a phone then screw 'em.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • ..

      Asshole.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • ..

      .... = dumb cunt. Sometimes it's all we have, you selfish bitch. Fuck you, too.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  12. Harold Barbera

    The Real Evil Religious Beliefs Spring from Islam!! You're trying to divert shame toward Christianity not radical Islam!

    April 28, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • ..

      Typical Christian apologist whose first knee-jerk reaction is "they're persecuting Christisns! Wah!"
      Look in the mirror. Yoiur religion has just as much blood on its hands.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      right. none of them come from chrstianity. got it, sparky

      April 28, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Observer

      Radical Islamic extremists are engaging in all the atrocities commanded by God in the Bible.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • BaZINGA

      There is plenty of blame to share for religious inspired attrocities, especially related to christianity; I would suggest an early church history class before casting the first stone.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  13. Rasheed

    Religions need a MESSIAH to come and reform all people – to bring them back toward God; toward Peace; toward Love. Most are still waiting for the First or Second coming. One group, the Ahmadiyya Community, has declared the return of the Messiah in the name of a person named Ahmad, who already began the mission to reform the world. Many millions around the world have joined him, others have yet to join. This is how the world will be reformed and fee of terror – not by logic, not by wars, not by ordinary tolerance. Just go look for the Messiah – it's at LOVE FOR ALL; HATRED FOR NONE (motto of Ahmadiyya)

    April 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Oh puh-leez!
      My invisible pink unicorn is the one, true messiah.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Ridiculous fictional stories written by ancient simpletons without even a inkling of knowledge about the natural world.

      Your belief in such foolishness is risible and shameful.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Steve Yzerman is the only messiah I need. He brought the Cup back to Hockeytown. All praise his name!

      April 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      Nah ah, magic panties. The FSM is the one true deity. Either that or Russell's teapot. I haven't made up my mind yet.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Rasheed

      So Scott C,
      Is a messiah a messiah only if he brings Christianity, or, in your view, reddish-white skinned?
      Go research for yourself. You'll not be disappointed. Youtube the Messiah's 5th successor (Ahmadiyya Caliph) giving an address at the U.S. Congress and to the European Parliament. Could a false prophet get this good recognition by so many sane people – bipartisan – both Boehner and Pelosi attended his speech and gave tributes.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  14. Godoflunaticscreation

    Great article by CNN. The recent bombings in Boston and the insanity revolving around Christianity's never ending holy wars, of which that was part, highlight this troubling issue.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Harold Barbera

      Liberal bulls**t and Islamic bias!

      April 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      I am not a liberal.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      ...nor islamic. Your mind has been brainwashed so far that you deny the truth. Christians and Jews kill more Muslims than the other way around. There are tons of quotes from high ranking officials about the waging of this holy war on the middle east. You all deserve each other.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  15. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JILvK_fLTuY&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • ScottCA

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6zCKlgGOwQ&w=640&h=360]

      April 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • ScottCA

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTT1yB7oRZ4&w=640&h=360]

      April 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Chuck

      you must work for CNN, why else would they let you post these Bandwidth robbing videos?

      April 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • ...

      @Chuck – actually it's easy peasy; no Gods/cnn special passes required..

      April 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  16. Wayne

    Did you notice that there was no example given of # 3, a group of believers going "evil" because they believed the end is near. I know there are some who think Ahmadinejad believes this but he's so radical on other things you can hardly say his belief in the end of time is the cause. Seems like the author is just pointing to a belief that many Christians have harmlessly held for 2000 years as a potential terrorist threat, to cast mistrust on perfectly safe christian groups.

    April 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  17. Designation-Theta

    Those four warning signs sound like fairly run of the mill stuff for organized christianity in America.

    "I know the truth and you don't" = "Believe in Jesus Christ or you're going to hell"

    "Beware the Charismatic Leader" = Anybody on TBN that suckers old people into sending their social security checks.

    "The End is Near" = Everybody who thinks that God is coming back in their lifetime + Those poor people who donated for those apocalyptic banners next to the interstate, also the entire creation of the Seventh Day Adventists.

    "The Ends justify the means" = Anti-gay teachings resulting in bullying/harming/killing, bombing/attacking/harrassing abortion clinics, targeting other people of no faith/different faiths, Pushing laws into localities or congress that would force others to follow their religious beliefs against their own choices (Blue laws, gay marriage, abortion, "Intelligent Design"), using religious faith to disregard well established concepts and maintain general ignorance resulting in a less educated populace that is easier to control for the next group of charismatic leaders. I know that this didn't occur during america's existence but The Crusades is still worth mentioning in my opinion.

    These are really the top four warning signs that somebody you know may be religious. Religion is the first form of government. It controls people, gives them rules to live by, threatens them if they don't obey, and sends them off to war with people different than them. They aren't saving souls, they're recruiting them.

    Atheists aren't as dangerous as they would prefer you to believe. Mostly because we really don't give a damn what you believe, who you love, or what you do with your life as long as it doesn't impact us in a negative way. Like all of those anti-everybody-but-us laws or being constantly threatened with infinite suffering because we "don't know the truth". It may seem like I'm picking on Christianity, but that's simply because its a majority religion in the states.

    Beginning to see the real problem here?

    April 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Wayne

      Atheists are continually trying to imply that theistic religion, especially Christianity, is somehow the cause of all the violence and death in our world, while atheists just peaceably coexist with everyone.

      May I point out that Atheism is a relatively new religion, historically speaking, far less than 500 years old. So all those atrocities they point to as being the result of theistic religions have taken place over a much longer period of time then those created by atheists.

      During its short existence atheism has been doing a fine job of catching up. Compare the Catholic Church's estimated 6 million killed throughout its history (which is inexcusable) with Hitler's 6 mil Jews and another 6 mil others. Or if you want a clearer example of an overtly atheist leader, try Joseph Stalin's 600 Mill killed. Then we need to add Napoleon, and the French Revolution's reign of terror, Mussolini, Mao t Sung, all of them were atheists. And we cannot forget the genocide of unborn infants, an estimated 50 million in the USA alone, which is based on Atheistic principles.

      You may say these creeps don't represent my form of Atheism. Well, neither do fundamentalist terrorists represent my form of Christianity. I'm not saying that every Atheist is responsible for the actions of these high profile atheist killers. I'm just pointing out that those who try to pin all evil on Theistic religion are on shaky ground, because if I apply your reasoning to atheism, atheism is a far more violent and intolerant religion than Christianity or even Islam.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Wayne
      Atheism is not a religion.
      Atheism has been around as long as humans. We are taught religion, we are born atheist.

      I din't bother reading the rest of your post because you were so incorrect right from the start.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Now I went back and read some of your BS, you are lying boldfaced

      Hitler was one of your christian brothers. He used his faith in the christian almighty as justification for his acts.

      The others you mention who actually were atheists did not kill because of atheism. They were driven by power and a need to control the population. Political and economic reasons, not belief based.

      You are flat out lying about atheists, which goes against your ninth commandment, so you are making your baby jesus cry.

      April 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • BaZINGA

      Wayne: the very word atheist (a-theist, as related to the word a-typical) reveal a lack of beleif in a god or deity, and is definately NOT a religion. I am a former believer with 20+ years of biblical research and understanding and it was the realization depicted in this article why I cast the religious crap aside and became an atheist, and I do not congregate with anyone. You should check your facts regarding Hitler evident in his quote: "I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator."

      – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

      April 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Wayne

      Richard Cranium,
      First, Religion is a system of beliefs about God. Atheism is a system of beliefs about God–particularly that there is none. So Atheism is truly a religion, although it is not a theistic one. The closest you could get to a non-religion would be an agnostic, which is still a belief about God, just not a very committed one.

      Your second point about religion being taught is partially true, the part about atheism (I'm referring to its current form) being around as long as humans is simply not historically accurate. Any W. Civ or ancient literature class will reveal that, although some of their religions seem rather strange today, theism has been an integral part of society all the way back as far as we have records for. The idea of simply denying there there is any such thing as a deity is a relatively new phenomenon. I will concede, however that I have not read every single piece of literature of ancient history, so you may find an isolated example of a person in history flatly denying any possibility of a deity, but that would be the exception, not the rule. In the case of the Greek philosophers who came close, they were not very accepted by their own people.

      Was Hitler a Christian? He did indeed try to co-opt the Christians (with far too much success), but if you consider his fascist and Darwinist basis for his motives, a strong, but admittedly not airtight, argument could be made that he was more atheist than Christian, perhaps I should have left him off this list. However in the case of the other people I mentioned, they definitely did kill because of their atheism, at least if you apply the same standard to them that you apply to make Christians out to be killers because of their religion. Atheism under-girded their "Political and economic reasons." Communism, at least Stalin's version of it, had atheism as a basic and guiding fact. Thousands were directly killed for spreading Christianity and the others were killed for supposedly opposing the atheistic state.

      By the way, I'm still enjoying your "tolerant" way of writing!

      April 28, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.
      Adolf Hitler

      This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief
      Adolf Hitler

      Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: – by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord
      Adolf Hitler

      Certainly sound like a christian to me.

      You seem to forget, or you may have never known, that Jews were not the only targets. The mentally ill, and many athesists were killed during the holocaust.
      Hitler did not like atheists, he was your brother in christ.
      How comforting it must be for you to know, that in his final moments, all he had to do was to be truly repentant and accept jesus, and the doors of heaven would open to him, according to your book and dogma.

      Atheism is not a religion, the same as abstinence is not a $exual position.

      You need to read up on subjects you post about... most of what you said it false conjecture, false presumption...and that No True Scotsman argument is extremely weak.

      April 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  18. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FlGGKZJ1E8&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  19. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63MYlubP_eE&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  20. ScottCA

    “I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously.”

    ― Douglas Adams

    April 28, 2013 at 1:53 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.