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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. Answer

    To CNN moderator:

    Good clean up. Congrats. Bravo.

    Thank you.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  2. Tamsyn

    This seems appropriate.

    "Free Will"

    There are those who think that life is nothing left to chance,
    A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.

    A planet of playthings,
    We dance on the strings
    Of powers we cannot perceive.
    "The stars aren't aligned
    Or the gods are malign"-
    Blame is better to give than receive.

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
    I will choose a path that's clear-
    I will choose Free Will.

    There are those who think that they were dealt a losing hand,
    The cards were stacked against them- they weren't born in lotus-land.

    All preordained-
    A prisoner in chains-
    A victim of venomous fate.
    Kicked in the face,
    You can't pray for a place
    In heaven's unearthly estate.

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
    I will choose a path that's clear-
    I will choose Free Will.

    Each of us-
    A cell of awareness-
    Imperfect and incomplete.
    Genetic blends
    With uncertain ends
    On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • paraduxx

      that's a good one. and then there is the temples of syrinx!

      April 28, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  3. ajzx

    its 2013 and I cant believe some people still believe, the bu||sh|t of religion, can you not realize religion is like a virus that infects and destroys everything.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  4. I Am God

    To the bigotted AtheistMorons. I have donated thousands of dollars to charity work that deal in cancer, helping children, and natural disasters. I even volunteered to help the people of Joplin, Missouri when the tornado went through their town. Get a clue and get out of the church once in a while.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • AtheistsMorons

      On which news headline i can read your facts? I bet nowhere because in 51 years of my life i never saw a single news headline or have read any headlines about any of them atheists giving to charities or has given money to any of the disasters that happened anywhere in the country.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      AM Azzhole, many/most atheists don't feel the need to highly publicize their contributions. Go check out richarddawkins.org to see one way atheists give.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @AtheistsMorons,

      Bill Gates is an atheist on the most common definition of that term and you read about his donations constantly. Ditto Warren Buffett (uses more diplomatic term "agnostic" to describe himself). George Soros... when you ignore "donations" to maintaining one's own religion, several studies show atheists as bigger givers than Christians.

      You might want to get out a tad more.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
  5. Answer

    Look at the freak "faith" go with it's wall of text. Hilarious.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Dippy

      Its...not it's.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  6. mobydobius

    pretty reprehensible making the branch davidians the photo for this article. the davidians were murdered by the federal government. they should be the photo for an article on how to spot an overzealous government willing to ride roughshod over the liberties of its citizens

    April 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      They were not 'murdered' by the government. But nice try at revisionist history there, dear.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  7. MrFawkes

    This article sums it up perfectly. Religion is a virus, and Tsarnaev was infected with the worst of it.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  8. NorthVanCan

    Religion evil?
    Say it isn't so!

    April 28, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  9. Jack Wood

    This morning, on the show following GPS, a panel member attempted to counter Islamic extremism by suggesting to viewers that a comparable amount of abortion clinic workers have been murdered by Christian terrorists. The number is "seven" and hardly comparable.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So...we're using numbers to decide who's worse?

      Does that absolve people like Paul Hill?

      April 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  10. jboom

    "So what exactly is the horror here?" – Saraswati

    The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and American Orthodox church would consider them as saints as they do the Holy Innocents: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Innocents

    April 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  11. Steve Lyons

    But you don't consider the actions of the Justice department under Janet Reno to have been "evil" in creating the hostage situation that resulted in our government burning to death women and children.

    April 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Reno didn't create anything of the sort. Stop pretending that Koresh was harmless.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Austin

      they knew the wind and the gas would incenerate the people. and they killed them. oops.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So did Koresh, witless. He could have surrendered at any time. He could have let the kids leave.

      I guess you think he was a saint, Austin. He probably had dreams about dead cats and ABOVE GROUND POOLS, too.

      April 29, 2013 at 7:52 am |
  12. Answer

    Hey religious freaks...

    You don't realize that all of you freaks have "your version" of proofs.. and yet none of you have been awarded the grand prize of saving the entire human race by ending the debate.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • o

      My best friend, Jesus, already did that

      April 29, 2013 at 12:59 am |
  13. JustTheFacts

    God exists. And I dare anyone to prove he doesn't. If you provide proof he doesn't, then I'll provide proof he does. Either put up or shut up…

    April 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Prove there isn't a Ford Mustang orbiting Uranus.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • I Am God

      Seriously? God doesn't exist. There is no proof that anyone called God existed in the world. Bible doesn't count because that is like telling people to believe in the Harry Potter books and create a religion.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Answer

      Haha.

      You losers have proof? Hilarious.

      Then why not share your vast proofs with the world and get this whole issue permanently resolved?

      April 28, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Smarterthanyou

      Why? So you can hold our claim up to some artificially high epistemic standard while ignoring the blatant inconsistencies in your own belief systems? You believe in god, but not unicorns or Santa Claus or fairies or Thor...

      How about you get consistent first, then we'll have our little discussion about "proof" mk?

      April 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I would say that the complete lack of evidence to support the existence of any of the thousands of gods humanity has worshiped is enough to convince a reasonable person.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Shayna

      The burden of proof lays on the person making the claim. You can not prove a negative. I do not have to prove the moon is not made of green cheese, you have to prove that it is. Therefore, I do not have to prove that god DOESN'T exist, you have to prove that he does. If you can believe in god, then you can believe in the devil. If you can believe in the devil, then you can believe in angels. If angels, then fairies. If fairies, then ghosts, goblins, demons...and the whole universe become a haunted house.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      I'm still waiting for proof. All I've heard thus far is just a bunch of evasive comments from ignorant people who can't seem to understand plain english (I stated, "either put up or shut up", what part of that did you not understand?)....

      April 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Obvious troll is even more obvious.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "tallulah13" and "Shayna"… So you admit that you have no proof whatsoever to support the contention that God does not exist? It's a simple yes or no question. It doesn't require an explanation. Either you have proof or you don't. If you have proof, then provide it. If you don't have proof then admit it...

      April 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Do you have that proof that a Ford Mustang isn't orbiting Uranus, JTF? Because I believe there is one. Prove there isn't.

      Maybe if you re-read this a few times, moving your lips if necessary, you'll figure out the parallel. I doubt you will though. Prove me wrong.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • jboom

      Its not about proof. Belive God exists? Believe God does not exist? Both of them are belief systems. Neigher can be proved or disproved. I would say, however, that most atheists I've read and heard are refuting a strawman concept of God.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "jboom"… You brought up a very good point, that it's "not about proof". Being saved is not about you having proof God exists. God does not require proof. Being saved is about you believing the word of the true sent preacher. If the preacher tells you and says that God exists, then do you believe him? Can you believe the word of the preacher? That is what God wants to know. If you can, then you can be saved. If you cannot, then you are damned already…

      Mark 16:16 – He that believeth (ie, believeth the word of the preacher) and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Then why are you posting drivel about proving he doesn't exist, JTF? It's the Christians here who insist they have "proof" of a god. It's they who insist they "know" there is one, instead of being honest and admitting that they have faith, not proof.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "jboom"… You are incorrect to state that the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven. His existence can indeed be proven and proven conclusively. For example, at the top of that list is Jesus Christ. The existence of Jesus Christ alone is proof enough that God exists. Because no son can exist without a father (and you don't have to see that father to know that he has one. Every son has a father.). Therefore, if Jesus Christ existed, then so also does God exists. And it cannot be otherwise. And real world history bears witness that Jesus Christ existed. Therefore, anyone who doesn't know that God exists is as dumb as a rock…

      April 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The complete and utter lack of evidence for the existence of any of the thousands of gods that humans have worshiped is compelling evidence to a reasonable person.

      However, I can see how logic and reason have no effect on those who are so emotionally vested in the existence of the supernatural that they seem to lose sight of reality. This is why religion works. It's preys on insecurity and fear and gives an empty promise of surety. Religion is a sandy beach where those who fear the unknown can bury their metaphorical heads.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "tallulah13"... Any fool should know that a lack of evidence is not proof. People once believed the world was flat – due to a lack of evidence – until someone eventually proved it was round. Just because they had originally believed it was flat due to a lack of evidence doesn't mean they were correct…

      April 28, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      JTF, please prove that the subject of the dead jew zombie myth aka jesus was actually divine. If you can't prove that with factual, independent, objective and verifiable evidence, by your logic, you cannot prove the existence of your alleged god.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • tallulah13

      JTF:

      Certainly I would believe in a god if evidence came to light that one existed. However, in the entire history of humanity there has not been a single shred of such evidence unearthed. Therefore, the logical position to take is that there are no gods.

      Don't worry. I don't expect logic or reason from you, any more than I expect truth. When someone calls themselves something like "just the facts", it generally follows that all they actually offer is opinion.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      HotAirAce… Your belief in Jesus Christ's divinity matters not. The fact that he existed is all that is required to prove that God exists….

      tallulah13… I have already provided you with evidence that God exists (and Jesus Christ is that evidence). Only it's not the kind of evidence you are willing to accept. Therefore, for you to state "there has not been a single shred of such evidence unearthed" – only makes you a liar. And for you to continue repeating that lie over and over again despite being aware of the truth, it makes you pathological…

      April 29, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Nice dodge. . .

      If jesus was not divine then he was not truly the son of god, and your logic fails. By your latest illogic, not requiring jesus to be divine, then god is proven by the existence of any person, and surely you wouldn't claim that trivial argument, or would you?

      April 29, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • jboom

      to JTF: But can what you say be proven? We have evidence for our faith, indeed. Its not a blind faith by any means. And we do believe that God does reveal himself to us in Jesus. The uncreated 'takes on flesh' and walks amongst the created. However, we receive the message from witnesses. Some believe the message immediately. Some take years. Some ponder and philosophize. Sometimes we want to believe but we do not. Sometimes we do not want to believe but we do. In the end, however, its a matter of faith. (Not opposed to reason or science.) Christ wants us to believe the witnesses who have handed down the message. But he wants all to hear this message and THEN to witness his Glory firsthand so that all become fellow 'witnesses' with the first Apostles.

      April 29, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • jboom

      to The Real Tom:

      I would propose that 'to know' need not require proof. At least as used colloquially. I can have such faith that God exists and is personal that I 'know' it without having what the world would consider to be proof. But my faith can be such that it informs my 'proof'. Atheists might simply call this being delusional. However, when atheists call it blind , ostrich in the sand style ignorance, they are simply tossing around strawmen. Intellligent, thinking people are in both camps.

      April 29, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      HotAirAce… Since you are so hung up on divinity, what is your definition of "divine"? What characteristics do you feel a person would have to have in order to be divine? And how would you even know a person who was divine from someone who wasn't? By what criteria would you even use to determine that? And who gave you that criteria? And by what authority do you even say Jesus was not divine? In reality, you have no authority at all. All you have is just your own personal opinion. Which don't mean a thing…

      By every definition and by all the miracles Jesus did and the amazing things people witnessed concerning him (healing the sick, making the blind see and the lame to walk, commanding the wind, walking on water, rising from the dead, etc) I think Jesus has fully proven he was divine. He did all the things a divine person would do, and things no other man could do. Furthermore, there are two occasions in the bible when a loud voice spoke out of heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son" (referring to Jesus and confirming he was the Son of God). The first time occurred when Jesus was baptized and John the Baptist heard it (Matthew 3:17). The second time occurred when Jesus was upon the mount with the disciples and they heard it (2 Peter 1:17-18). Therefore, Jesus has provided plenty of proof that he was indeed the Son of God. We have no reason to doubt him. So who are you to say otherwise? What proof do you have otherwise? Answer: You have no proof whatsoever. All you have is your disbelief and your own personal opinion. Which don't mean a thing…

      April 29, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • jboom

      By the same token, an atheist can 'know' that he is right in his faith in a lack of a God.

      However, there is a key difference. The Christian is 'knowing' a personal Someone. The atheist is 'knowing' the absence of someone.

      April 29, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I'm ok with any reasonable definition of divine you like, 'cause this isn't about the definition of divine. it's about your inability to provide evidence for your most basic of claims – that some god exists and some dude named jesus wa his son. You have provided nothing but circular illogic, not a single bit of real evidence to back up your claims. That makes you a liar, a mentally ill delusional or both.

      April 29, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      To "HotAirAce"… This is my last post to you because you're wasting my time. Clearly something is wrong with your mind. I've already provided you with clear evidence for the existence of God as well as Christ's divinity. But it is evidence you have refused to accept. If you choose not to accept the evidence (evidence which is supported by history and supported by scripture) then that's you. But it does not change the evidence or make it untrue. It only makes you an unbeliever. For that is what an unbeliever is: it is someone who refuses to accept the truth or the evidence even after it has been shown to them. Nonetheless, you cannot say that such evidence has not been shown to you or that such evidence does not exist. Because if you say that, then you are a liar. And if you repeat such lies despite being aware of the truth, then it makes you pathological. And all atheists are pathological liars…

      Secondly, what people like you call "circular logic" is nothing more than the truth you cannot defeat. Atheists hate hearing truth they cannot defeat. They hate it when people say things and they cannot find a way around it. Thus, they call it circular logic. But that is the nature of truth. Truth cannot be defeated. A lie can be defeated, even falsehoods can be defeated, but truth cannot. You may argue about truth and you may debate it. And you may even refuse to accept it. But in the end, it is still the truth whether you accept it or not. And on Judgment Day, you will be judged by that same truth you have refused to accept. There is only one way out for unbelievers: to accept the truth, to believe the truth, and live. Or to reject the truth, and die, and spend eternity in hell and the lake. That is your only choice. And it is entirely yours. But keep in mind: if you end up in hell all because you have refused to believe, not one person will feel sorry for you. And all your so-called friends who support you, if they don't believe, then they'll be in hell too and won't be able to help you. And that's not an opinion. It's a fact. It's a fact that backed up by scripture.

      So this is my last post to you. As I don't have time for nonsense.

      April 29, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • HotAirAce

      As usual, a believer claims to have proof for the existence of their imaginary friend and associated myths, and when asked for the proof, provides further unsubstantiated claims. And when questioned further, said believer gets indignant and storms off, all the while claiming victory and righteousness, when in fact that have absolutely failed to support the claims they themselves made. Mentally ill delusional liar is a kind description of this type of idiot.

      April 29, 2013 at 3:09 am |
    • JustTheFacts

      As usual, an atheist in denial finds themselves in a corner and up against truth they cannot defeat, truth which they call "circular logic." And because they cannot defeat the truth, their only recourse is to dream up brand new lies against the truth, lies without a shred of evidence to back them up. Lies which attempt to refute the truth, but because there is no evidence to support those lies – lies which are nothing more than personal opinions and conjecture – only a person with a very weak mind would even fall for it or be deceived by them. But since atheists have never been known for having strong minds (in fact, all atheists have weak minds, they're too weak to believe) it's not a wonder they've been deceived by their very own lies. In fact, they've told the same old lies over and over again so many times until they're actually started to believe them. And they seem to forget that everything they believe in all started out as lie in the first place. They are deceivers who have been deceived. And that's nothing new. The bible has long prophesied about such people. And that's all they ever was. And all they'll ever be. In contrast, all I've told you is the truth, the gospel truth, and it's fully supported by scripture. And all the lies in the universe will never be able to change it…

      2 Timothy 3;13 – But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

      April 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  14. WMesser58

    All religion is "EVIL" and inane, To suggest that there is a specific religion proves how ridiculous and yet you have people in power using religion to justify their agenda and so it goes,

    April 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • faith

      amen

      April 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  15. mzh

    when it comes to religion, i believe one should focus on the books that we have on the earth and not to the followers... because in every faiths there are good and evil minded people... in most cases the evil action takes over the good one when it comes to judging the entire religion... but there are lot of good ppl and few are the evil... unfortunately these few are the winners...

    I often ask myself a question – can two or more be truth? the answer is obvious is NO... as we see in court Judge never accepts 2 as truth... now when we see there are three thousands plus religions we have currently in the face of earth... can these three thousands be truth? I would answer NO... there should be only one which is true... this is ones responsibility to find out which one is true and then follow it... now the question is how do i find the truth where every one claims to be the truth... even within the same faith diff groups claims that they are the truth... i.e. catholic teaches that catholic is the only way and rest are not... i am sure others think the same way... so what should we do... atheist also can't be truth as most of the atheists they are fade up with their own believe then become a believer that there is no God which rejects any faith claims that there is God... although they believe that there is a super natural power...

    Following can be considered in order to find the truth... and one may have more than what i could think of...

    – get the fundamental or basic message from each faith
    – put them together
    – start think... following can be considered to think which is true among all these:
    – the contents of the book and the preserve and author and so on...
    – the mankind needs God for every fraction of second
    – now if i think that God can be a human then human sleeps or gets sick then who would take care of me, so remove those who says that the God is human or human nature
    – some says dead spirit – who knows what is the condition of the dead person... then how could that dead person's spirit be God
    – some takes some kinda animals as God – that creature can't even help himself and can't express himself... how can that creature be God
    – and so on...
    – and there is only one which says that 'there is no God but One God who is unseen and believe in Him and do not associate any partners i.e. son, daughters, cow, monkey, tree etc with HIm and this is Islam

    Also I am not here to say that who is better and who is not... but i am saying that one should put an effort to find the truth...

    I hopping this will help but not expecting entire mankind but who knows... i have good intention...

    Peace!!!

    April 28, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Answer

      Retards who can't accept the material world because they find that it doesn't comfort them specifically are the ones that need a god. The rest of us get along with the reality that doesn't cater to our whims.

      S-u-c-k it up you religious freaks.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • kenny

      all religions were created by powerful men to control other men. every single one.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Without evidence for any god, religion is little more than cultural superstition and habit. This is why every god reflects the morality of the society that created it.

      April 29, 2013 at 12:06 am |
  16. throckie

    How can you tell the warning signs of when atheism has replaced a belief in God? Here are four signs. 1) All truth is relative. 2) Beware the armchair philosopher who believes that everybody's ideas are as good as everybody else's. 3) There is no Day of Judgment or a specific point in time when there will be a resolution to the problem of human sin. 4) The end justifies the means (i.e., secular figures start justifying doing something wrong for a higher good.)

    April 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Your opinion has been duly noted.

      April 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
  17. Darren

    that was laughable to say the least the Bible clearly claims to be the truth so if this is the case all of christianity is wrong,
    Jesus was a very charismatic person, Jesus clearly taught the end was near , and in regards to the last the ends justifying the means , does that mean man does not need a savior

    April 28, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  18. Godoflunaticscreation

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6_9QmM6TfE&w=640&h=360]

    April 28, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  19. 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).

    Unless you consider atheism a "faith", this statement is an outright lie:

    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.”

    April 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chard

      Is 'Rachel' impressed yet to give you a b-l-o-w job? XD

      April 28, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Jesus ftreaker

      Believe in whatever helps you sleep at night Chad. Sweet dreams.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Tamsyn

      Chad misrepresents Jim Jones' role in religion, and what drove him. Although in the latter part of his life he became atheistic, he used Christianity as a tool to garner and keep his followers. Most of them were FAR from atheists.

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

      There are many publications that delve into Jim Jones; he could not be portrayed in linear terms of black and white.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Well, see, that's where Chard has a problem. He sees everything as black and white. Unless it's something he's said. Then there's wiggle room. Then there are these shades of gray, you see.

      April 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Chad

      He can and should be correctly portrayed as an atheist, making this statement utterly false unless you consider atheism a "faith" (religion).

      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.”

      April 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  20. Tom

    Define "Religion." That is, that which we focus most, in our lives. Therefore, 'religion' may include extra-mortality being, our jobs, our political views, sports, governments, or just ourselves. Any with the ability to weld power and influence. CNN was once the national and global source leader in media accuracy. This article is painfully misleading.

    April 28, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.