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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. rusty floyd

    Sounds like this applies to the Global Warming movement, and environmental extremism generally.
    1. I know the truth, you don't (it's settled science! – as though science is ever settled).
    2. Charismatic leader (Al Gore...well, maybe not him, but a truckload of charismatic celebs...why do we listen to them?)
    3. The end is near (I think that speaks for itself)
    4. The ends justify the means (I guess we'll see)

    April 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Colin

      YEs, and those hot summers, meling ice bergs and changing weather.....all made up, right?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Answer

      Looks like "rusty" here is a proud member of the Donors' Trust stoolie denier.

      Must be proud of his stupidity. All that money spent to urge the christards to deny reality on climate change.

      Really proud ... these deniers. They don't even look into the amount of money they've used to brainwash themselves.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  2. Colin

    4 Signs Religion is Evil

    1. It expects you to believe in the supernatural without any evidence.
    2. It convinces you it has a monopoly on morality.
    3. It tells you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself.
    4. It says that other religions are wrong.

    Bing, bing, bing....every religion I have evr heard of!!!!

    April 28, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • anonymous

      Religion is not evil. If there is such a thing as evil, it is in man's interpretation of religion, just like you display in your words. That is where the real harm lies. Interesting name you have – Colon, I mean Colin.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Chancho

      Do you feel better now?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Fits a lot of religionss, but not so much Unitarianism, most forms of Buddhism, or many forms of Hinduism.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • faith

      "Colin
      4 Signs Religion is Evil
      1. It expects you to believe in the supernatural without any evidence.
      2. It convinces you it has a monopoly on morality.
      3. It tells you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself.
      4. It says that other religions are wrong.
      Bing, bing, bing....every religion I have evr heard of!!!!"

      duh. that's why atheist zealots cling to fsm. they are such idiots! they got no evidence. dig it

      April 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Colin

      @faith. Wow....just wow. That is the point of the fsm, you retarded simpletion. It is a sarcastic throw off at gods. You really are super dumb, aren't you?

      April 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • faith

      prove fsm don't exist

      April 28, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Well said Colin

      April 30, 2013 at 2:49 am |
  3. Bob1god

    I'm telling me, u kids better play nice!

    April 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      yeah well, they started it.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  4. Who Is This Guy?

    I don't know who John Blake is or what his qualification are for contributing to the "belief" blog, but based on this article and others, he should be excluded from further contributions. This article is totally pathetic and not really accurate.

    April 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Ahhh, the age old solution, censorship.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  5. Chad

    Jim Jones was an atheist.

    Hard to believe that CNN/John Blake would go so far as to try and re-invent him to be "religious".
    Pretty desperate tactic, very dishonest, very overt agenda..

    By the spring of 1976, Jones began openly admitting even to outsiders that he was an atheist.

    The Temple openly preached to established members that "religion is an opiate to the people." (Jones, Jim. "Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 1053." Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Jonestown Project: San Diego State University.) Accordingly, "those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment – socialism." (Layton 1999, page 53). In that regard, Jones also openly stated that he "took the church and used the church to bring people to atheism." (Jones, Jim. "Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 757." Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Jonestown Project: San Diego State University). Jones often mixed those concepts, such as preaching that "If you're born in this church, this socialist revolution, you're not born in sin. If you're born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you're born in sin. But if you're born in socialism, you're not born in sin."(Jones, Jim. "Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 1053." Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Jonestown Project: San Diego State University.) Archived 13 February 2011 at WebCite

    April 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • ..

      Hard to believe you will do anything, anything at all to paint atheists in a bad light. You are a piece of work.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Chad

      Unless of course you want to call atheism a religion that is..

      April 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Observer

      Hitler wasn't an atheist. He killed thousands of times more people.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Observer

      If "religion" is defined as how one deals with the "meaning of life", then atheism might be considered a form of religion. It doesn't matter anyway.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Chad

      Atheist Hall of Fame
      Jim Jones
      Benito Mussolini
      Jeffrey Dahmer
      Kim Jong Il
      Than Shwe (dictator of Myanmar/Burma)
      Napoleon Bonaparte
      Mao Zedong
      Pol Pot
      Joseph Stalin

      over 200 million killed in the past 100 years alone... 200 MILLION

      April 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Observer

      Chad,

      NO ATHEIST ever torturously killed EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth like God did.

      What was your point?

      April 28, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Chad

      Point of the root post was to illustrate the error in the article, showing the agenda of the author.

      Point of the Atheist hall of fame was to respond to your erroneous Hitler post..

      The flood should serve as a sobering reminder of the power of God to all of us.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • faith

      "Observer
      Chad,
      NO ATHEIST ever torturously killed EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth like God did.
      What was your point?" lol

      April 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • faith

      when you burn in hell, you will deserve it

      April 28, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Chad,
      I have to agree that including Jones was a poor choice.

      I don't get what your line of reasoning is with the list of bad atheists. I don't think atheism is a harbor from bad people. There are bad people, pretty much evenly spread through the human population. Some are atheists. So what? Do you really think atheism is a cause of bad people?

      April 28, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Observer

      Chad,

      "erroneous Hitler post'?

      “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.”
      - Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

      Ooops!

      April 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • faith

      god is just. slow to anger and full of mercy. god has limits. you reap what you sow.

      hate god. hate him. big deal. typical atheist here. "i hate god cause he sucks. he ought a done things my way. since he is an idiot, i ain't gonna kiss his butt. i want hell. hell is cool."

      fire burns.

      don't matter if you set the fire or elwood set it, it burns. just cause atheists prefer to burn don't mean everybody should want to burn. amen? AMEN!

      April 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Observer

      faith,

      "typical atheist here. "i hate god cause he sucks."

      Clueless. That's a riot. You can't hate something you don't think exists. Zero logic.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Bostontola

      faith,
      Why do you say atheists hate god? I don't hate god any more than I hate Sauron.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Chad

      @Observer "erroneous Hitler post"
      @Chad "A. Hitler did not accept a Jew as his Lord and Savior
      B. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Nazi_Germany#Nazi_attitudes_towards_Christianity

      unlike most historians I dont try and make a claim that Hitler was an atheist. Attempting to make a case that he was a Christian is not only erroneous, but shows the extent to which you (like the author of this article) will go in attempting to rewrite history to achieve your objective.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Observer

      Chad,

      "Attempting to make a case that he was a Christian is not only erroneous,"

      “My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter." Adolph Hiller, Munich, April 1922.

      Ooops again.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • faith

      you don't have to convince me. DUH!

      i knoed u all r believers. just will not give up sin

      Observer
      faith,

      "typical atheist here. "i hate god cause he sucks."
      Clueless. That's a riot. You can't hate something you don't think exists. Zero logic.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Tamsyn

      Chad's Jim Jones post is misleading. He used religion as a tool to brainwash his followers as he saw it as a means to his ends.
      He was atheisitic towards the end, but he was not always that way. And his followers were FAR from atheists, even if Jones was.

      For a brief overview, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones

      There are also many books on this subject; JJ was a complex man, and his views cannot be put as black and white as Chad would like to pigeonhole it.

      As for Hitler, whether or not he was "saved" in the true evangelical sense or not is irrelevant. He ascribed to Christianity, and belonged to a Christian Church right up until he committed suicide.

      As for the all-star list of atheisitic despot leaders, none of it was done IN the name of atheism, but purely as a part of a totalitarianistic regime. It would behoove one to know exactly what the difference is before spouting off erroneously.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Chad

      @Observer

      dont fall for cheap tricks.. do your research.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler
      Adolph Hitler did not accept a Jew (Jesus) as his savior. This is widely accepted

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity

      April 28, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • Observer

      faith,

      Atheists NEVER say they hate God. You just made that up to try to justify the lack of any logic in false claims you made about them.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Observer

      Chad,

      It was the Christians in his nation who went along with Hitler and what he did.

      “Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise.”
      - Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

      April 28, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      chad: your god is a vindictive pr1ck, and you are yet another snivelling toady.

      April 28, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Chad

      @Tamsyn "misleading.."

      =>how?
      Jim Jones was an atheist (the wikipedia article lists his religion as "atheist"), end of story, unless you are ready to state that Jim Jones atheism was his faith, this statement is an outright falsification:

      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. “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.”

      ======
      Hitler didnt accept a Jewish Messiah as his savior, if you also do some reading (learning is a good thing!), you'll see he railed against Christianity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

      =====
      I hear that claim that "stalin/mao/pol-pot" didnt kill in the name of atheism. That is in actuality quite false.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist%E2%80%92Leninist_atheism

      “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.”

      ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

      April 28, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Timothy

      Well if Christians can use the "No true Scotsman" with Hitler then atheists can do the same with Jim Jones, for no true atheist would drink the cool aid let alone serve it.

      April 30, 2013 at 3:56 am |
  6. Larry

    How hypocritical that CNN would write such a wonderful article and yet give the NRA crap while pushing their own agenda. Double standard- you demonize the members of the NRA and yet you have the gall to judge someone elses religion?

    April 28, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      I agree. Guns don't kill people, Christians/Jews/Muslims do.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "you demonize the members of the NRA and yet you have the gall to judge someone elses religion?"

      Why should doing the former preclude doing the latter?

      April 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  7. Geroge Crenshaw

    This was a wonderful article. A very honest approach to some of the problems we face with extremism in the world.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  8. kookoolarue

    CNN: Just so you know, this is an absolutely terrible article.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Why?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  9. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    It is crime to be female by hindu atheism, self center ism of hindu atheist, self centered by faith.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M88ciuWGZo&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Muslims kill girls before birth and after birth. I still have to say Islam is not looking at all any better.

      April 30, 2013 at 2:52 am |
  10. One one

    God is perfect, never makes a mistake.
    He tested mankind with a talking snake.
    Things didn’t work out like he originally planned.
    He decided to change his religious brand.
    He killed his son to “save” mankind.
    From the curse and wrath of his self centered mind.
    Now we have hell for those who doubt.
    To give fairy tale salesmen a lot more clout.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Written by hindu secular ism by a hindu secularist, self centered in denial of truth absolute GOD.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • lol??

      one one divided?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Bostontola

      11,
      You claim to know what god's intentions were/are, why would he create tests, rewards, and punishments if he is omniscient and already knows the outcomes?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Science

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species..............is beating it up already.......the fairy in the sky !

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

      April 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • dabble53

      @Bostontola – this is exactly why you can't have an omniscient and omnipotent god and free will. They are mutually exclusive. Too bad the religious don't think rationally.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  11. Just Call Me Lucifer

    Shouldn't all you zealots be out somewhere saving souls instead of arguing on an internet forum? You certainly won't be converting anyone here... they're way too smart to believe your bullshyte. Besides, I spoke to Jesus last week and he said that his flock are such retards he's never coming back. Oh, and that prayer thing you do? A complete waste of time, but Jesus said
    it makes the dolts feel better for some reason.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • lol??

      What are ya doin' on a belief blog, slick?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  12. TRose

    How about an opinion essay on extremist secularism? On those who are so busy being sure to bash "haters" that they can't see their own anger and hatred? It's running rampant and it's vetted by the media. Fact is that there are some universal truths, and love and goodness will win the day. True religion is about love. Not about proving you're better or more logical or more anything. It's about being kind to one another and working for a better world. The kind of religion-bashing this article endorses serves no purpose except to divide us all further. Get with the program, John Blake. You'll be a happier man when you do.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      Secularists do not go around flying planes into buildings or bombing abortion clinics.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Any extremist that imposes their will on others is bad. Pretty simple. Why do you need a article on that?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      But they kill babies, justifying murder by their hindu secular ism, self center ism like hindu beast, self centered by nature.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      God is the biggest abortionist ever. He drowned every baby on the planet.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Mary

      Plus, don't Christians account for roughly 83% of abortions?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  13. ray plate

    One correction, Hal Lindsey did not author the Left Behind series

    April 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  14. Austin

    Pictures of what Jesus really looked like at prolapsed.net! Must be seen to be believed.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Austin .............so you saying you can't read ?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Do you count stuff in the Internet as believable witness?

      April 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  15. ATPMSD

    In this day and age, all Religon is evil – it is just a matter of degree.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • sharky

      No, people are actually the evil, not religion. Communists don't believe in religion, yet they killed, murdered, committed horrible acts.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Evil is too subjective. What I do know is religions are self serving parasites. I have to admit, they are well tuned to exploit human weakness and work very well.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  16. Bostontola

    The bedrock of Judeo-Christian religions is slavery. You must be a slave. Love god, worship him, or you spend eternity in torture.

    I can't believe that a moral person that is already enslaved would ever try to ensnare a free person into that.

    I don't claim to know what truth is. I do know I want no part of any religion based on that.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Betty

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

      Jesus discovered nothing...he was and is God.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      I agree. I want no part of a celestial North Korea or a totalitarian Christian worldview.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Betty,
      You are addicted. Look at other addicts, like drug addicts. They do unconscionable things to satisfy their addiction. Please keep that drug to yourself.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • sharky

      Ah there we go, religion = slavery ah yes, knew some nitwit would go there.

      By the way, did communists, ya know those ANTI-religion, did they have slaves. Oh but they did.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Snarky,
      Why does pointing out an observation mean I am a nit wit. What part of the observation is wrong? Communism is not atheism, Stalinist communism pushed atheism because they wanted no rival for power. That's bad too, if it makes you feel better.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • The Non Believer

      @sharky

      Deflecting the issue to communist slaves does not irradicate the slavery of Christianity.

      April 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Bostontola,

      The bedrock of Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus. You must be born again, then you are free, free indeed. Otherwise, you are lost and you are a slave, a slave to sin, the flesh, and the devil.

      Why would anyone want another to be a slave?

      Peace.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So in other words, Robert, your religion tells you that being a human is inherently evil. Amazingly enough, the same religion that tells you that you were born evil has a fix for that. All you have to do is give yourself over to that religion.

      Sounds like volunteer slavery to me.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      tallulah13,

      Those are other words and I have read similar words on here before. Organized religion has done more to harm the cause of Christ than the naysayers. The spirit of God convicts you of your sin, not religion, or another person. All you have to do is seek, God does the rest. He will set you free.

      April 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I AM free, Robert. Your problem is that you fear true freedom because there is no reward.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  17. John P. Tarver

    You are not special, my Master can make another of us from a stone.

    April 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • tallulah13

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

      April 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  18. Godoflunaticscreation

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7jClyinERY&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  19. lionlylamb

    With manly intentions dare comes Godly interventions.

    April 28, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • ..

      Name any Godly intervention that has happened in recent history. One. You can't. Dumb quip.

      April 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      He turned me into a newt! I got better.

      April 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Out from the shadows raises a speckled nameless perversion meant to disdain from Godly interventions. What say you speckles as to mankind's intentions for worldly arousals fomentations? Who dare you say that I'm not or am? As John the Baptist was so might I be or even become. The ordered reasoning of cosmological continuations are bound up by God. The celestial cosmology we find to be within is bound up and binding to God's powers that be. The atomized cosmologies is Godly domains to forever be ruled by Godliness brethren. Our cellular cosmologies is where God and Godly kinds take refuge far from the maddening celestial issues of star born lashings of hell's fires!

      April 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  20. lol??

    "Deu 32:39 See now that I, [even] I, [am] he, and [there is] no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither [is there any] that can deliver out of my hand."

    April 28, 2013 at 6:50 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.