home
RSS
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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

“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. biggles

    Or, we could discuss collapsing skulls through brain extraction, dodo.

    CNN is through

    May 2, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  2. Jonathan Agathokles

    "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."

    First they claim many, but then they only give examples from Abrahamic monotheism. *fail*

    The people cited above represent only three religions (along with their varieties and some offshoots like Mormonism, or Ahmadiyya). Most religions simply don't work with such "Prophets" who claim absolute truths that have to be believed blindly.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:49 am |
  3. faith

    "tallulah13
    Faith in god produces nothing but emotional satisfaction to the believer. If it produced "reliable results" then no child would die of cancer." lie

    The real Tom faith, are you trying to censor others who don't agree with you? How positively Christian of you. What a little twerp. tom the moron observer sambo answer. honey, ditto what i told answer, observant before. not interested. your just a bit too delightful and cheery

    requesting evidence is futile. they make no bones. ain't none. they are liars. they make sweeping false statements and never apologize when embarrassed

    May 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Jerosa

      Are you arguing for atheists? What are you talking about? This post is a mess!!

      May 1, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I can't tell if you are a troll or an insane believer. Well done.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • The real Tom

      Can't she be both?

      May 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  4. Helaina Hinson

    Martin Luther, that "angry German monk" NEVER thought "he had the truth", nor did he ever intend to start a new religion. He was a devout Catholic priest who questioned the abuses he saw among the church hierarchy. His 99 Theses were an invitation to a DEBATE at the university where he was a professor, NOT a call for an insurrection.

    That "end times" theology is scary stuff. Most of it is NOT in fact biblical, nor is the "Lucifer and the war in heaven, when the angels were cast into hell." That's not even in the Bible! It's from the novel "Paradise Lost."

    Nowhere does it say in the Bible that Lucifer and Satan are the same person, either.

    May 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • biggles

      Beautiful

      May 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Biggles + BS = BS

      May 1, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • lol??

      and you're lookin' for a lucifer-satan debate and will wimp out on ye ol' "can't prove a negative trap"

      May 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • DaBudaMasta

      Martin Luther accused the Jews for crucifying Jesus. Which gives Adolf Hitler the justification for the his genocidal "final solution".
      You are correct in denying the existence of Lucifer or Satan. The King James Version translate a hebrew word heylel in Isaiah 14.12 as shining one, morning star, the planet Venus, Lucifer. Here is a link to Wikipedia if you are interested to find out more. These information are freely and instantly in the Internet's virtual library if you want it.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer

      May 2, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • lol??

      Sadderbudweiser, where does she say, "....You are correct in denying the existence of Lucifer or Satan......"

      What the hey is going on here and what is the agenda??

      May 2, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • lol??

      Demonic turf war??

      May 2, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Helaina Hinson

      I have no "agenda" to push at all. I was remarking on some statements in the article, and to some other comments.

      Luther was in fact anti-Jewish, but LLutheranism wasn't the basis for Hitler's anti-Jewish agenda. Hitler was not a Lutheran. I believe he was Catholic.

      As for Lucifer: the sole reference to Lucifer is in Isaiah, which states "how far he has fallen." It says nothing about him having been an archangel who led a revolt in heaven. Bunyan and Dante, like the novelists of the modern "Left Behind" novels, simply expanded on this and thought it made a good story. Some Christian denominations, however, teach it as factual. It's just medieval literature.

      This article is not well-researched at all.

      May 2, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  5. Gabriel

    Warning sign #5: Your leadership strongly discourages mingling with anyone who doesn't share your beliefs or your zeal because they are corrupting influences who will lead you to damnation.

    Of course, it's really because of fear, fear that hearing ideas containing a little more sanity and reason will open your eyes and take away the leadership's power over you.

    May 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  6. Trance

    .
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKxk9TvyJrs&w=640&h=360]

    May 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  7. debbie338

    "The line between good and evil religion is thin." Truer words were never spoken, and is likely a good argument for leaving religion behind altogether.

    May 1, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • faith

      religion rots, especially when it lies to gullible, disillusioned, naive nazis who hate god

      May 1, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Jerosa

      Nazis were Christians, so Nazis who hate God is an oxymoron. Plus, they were made moot 60 plus years ago.

      May 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  8. We All Know Jim Jones was...

    Afraggle. He did not believe that Fraggles were real, so we should shun any group that believes the same way Jim Jones did. Everyone who is anyone knows Fraggles are real...

    May 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  9. larry gray

    another important one – requires followers to isolate themselves from family, community and other churches, etc.

    May 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  10. Golly

    After reading the article I couldn't help but think about this recent case that I read first in Huff Post – 4/25/13 (AP):

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

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

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

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

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

    You know it's just one more of those over 40,000 Xtian sects each thinking their doing His work.

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    (Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

    May 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Akira

      Nuts are nuts. Only the flavor varies.

      May 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  11. Bill Deacon

    because there is no upside to reporting he was a communist

    May 1, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      in reply to Chad

      May 1, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • science

      Oops...........rather read the fossil records........................ education for works or children !

      First Snapshot of Organisms Eating Each Other: Feast Clue to Smell of Ancient Earth

      Apr. 29, 2013 — Tiny 1,900 million-year-old fossils from rocks around Lake Superior, Canada, give the first ever snapshot of organisms eating each other and suggest what the ancient Earth would have smelled like.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429154107.htm

      And Bill make sure to follow link bellow................then make sure to read all comments ..............then comment OK ?

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/29/new-film-examines-science-vs-religion/comment-page-5/#comments

      ..

      May 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Science

      Oops

      Glad I don't associate with that devil's cult !

      Peace

      May 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Science

      In fact Bill here is copied and pasted here ok !

      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      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 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Tamsyn

      As an interesting aside, the misconception that all communists are atheists is false; there are many differing forms of communism besides Marxist/Leninism, (or Marxist communism, or Leninist commumism) which Chad neglected to mention, since he got it from the same Wiki source:

      Christian Communism

      Christian communism is a form of religious communism centred on Christianity. It is a theological and political theory based upon the view that the teachings of Jesus Christ urge Christians to support communism as the ideal social system. Christian communists trace the origins of their practice to teachings in the New Testament, such as the Acts of the Apostles at chapter 2 and verses 42, 44 and 45:

      42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and in fellowship ... 44And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
      —King James Version
      Christian communism can be seen as a radical form of Christian socialism. Also, because many Christian communists have formed independent stateless communes in the past, there is a link between Christian communism and Christian anarchism. Christian communists may not agree with various parts of Marxism, but they share some of the political goals of Marxists, for example replacing capitalism with socialism, which should in turn be followed by communism at a later point in the future. However, Christian communists sometimes disagree with Marxists (and particularly with Leninists) on the way a socialist or communist society should be organized.

      Of course, Jim Jones wasn't one; he was an atheist. The point is the silly notion that ALL communists are atheists is just that: silly.

      But that's another discussion.

      May 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Science

      An Awesome Message from P.W. Swivel

      Tamsyn

      People are People

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbD3Hlbvafo&w=640&h=360]

      Thanks for watching.

      May 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  12. Chad

    Despite its public persona as a Christian church, Jones was in fact an atheist who intentionally adopted the guise of an Evangelical Christian preacher in an attempt to destroy the Christian religion and replace it with Communist ideology.

    – Jones, Jim in conversation with John Maher. "Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 622.

    Why are so many others here desperately trying to cast an atheist who infiltrates a Christian church with the express stated desire of deconverting all Christians to atheism as a "religious leader".

    I dont get that at all, the man was an atheist, he had a mission to deconvert Christians. That was his expressed intent.

    Why is everyone so intent on labeling him "religious"?

    May 1, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Jim Jones

      Chad eat the nightshade berries, lots of them, we have a spot for you.

      May 1, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Direct quote from the transcript "Jones: Well, thank you for the feedback, ‘cause, I must say, I felt somewhat hypocritical for the last years as I became uh, an atheist, uh, I have become uh, you— you feel uh, tainted, uh, by being in the church situation. But of course, everyone knows where I’m at. My bishop knows that I’m an atheist. "

      Doesn't appear to support your c&p.

      May 1, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      And how is that different than most of the high publicity evangelical preachers out there? Few of them, if any, believe that a god exists too. They are just in it for the big money that they get from fleecing delusional believers.

      May 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Sweet Dead Jew on a Stick

      Chad
      You could ask the same thing about the evangies and faith healers that use the christian religions for their own gain. Are they religious leaders or just plain hustlers making a buck off of the scam as JJ did so well for years. $$$$$ even the pope is into cash flow big time.

      May 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • ..

      Asked and answered about 50 times. You get it, you don't want to ADMIT it. Now, you're just trying to start shit for argument's sake, you dishonest slag. You're the one with the obvious problem of him being called a religious leader. He has gone down in history as a religious leader. And face it, you had NO IDEA he was an atheist until you looked him up on Wiki, and like the dishonest twit you are, had an "aHA!" moment where you thought you could use him as a way to discredit ALL atheists.
      And you wonder why people call you disingenuous?
      Look in the mirror, you dishonest punk.
      You do the same crap with prothero, because you can't possibly concieve the smallest thing that contradicts your narrow mindset. You're a bore.
      12.One way to use this super endurance to your advantage is to keep posting the same questions over and over again even after they’ve been answered 50 times. Just pretend they haven’t been answered and act self-righteous about it. It’s really cool if you can ask this same thing on multiple threads and then claim it was never answered forcing people to waste time on the same thing over and over and over.

      May 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • ..

      Santa, that's because his ONLY source is Wiki, and you know Chad's motto: if Wiki didn't say it, it wasn't said. And hey, don't bother to read all of the citated sources, because that might contradict what Chad wants to believe.

      May 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Chad

      "Jones: Well, thank you for the feedback, ‘cause, I must say, I felt somewhat hypocritical for the last years as I became uh, an atheist, uh, I have become uh, you— you feel uh, tainted, uh, by being in the church situation. But of course, everyone knows where I’m at. My bishop knows that I’m an atheist. "

      how exactly does that contradict my statement that "he was an atheist who infiltrated a Christian church with the express stated desire of deconverting all Christians to atheism"?

      actually it supports it exactly.. right?

      why would you call such an atheist a "religious person"?

      Could it be that:
      A. Atheists dont want folks to know Jim Jones was an atheist
      B. Atheists have a goal of smearing "religion", and dont care by what means that is achieved?
      C. Because if you smear "religion" you can also sweep Christianity up with that broom..

      May 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Jim Jones

      Chad and what the fvck are you? Do you have an identi-ty? Hard to pin down watery slippery stool like you, but you are still welcome, eat the nightshade berries, see you soon.

      May 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Soprano

      Chad-You asked 'Why is everyone so intent on labeling him "religious"?'
      –because atheism is a religion.

      May 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Tamsyn

      Could it be that:
      A. Atheists dont want folks to know Jim Jones was an atheist
      No. Provide evidence this is happening.
      B. Atheists have a goal of smearing “religion”, and dont care by what means that is achieved?
      No. Provide evidence this is happening.
      C. Because if you smear “religion” you can also sweep Christianity up with that broom..
      No. Provide evidence this is happening.

      Captain Generalization Persecuted Man has struck again.

      May 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Science

      Chad wow !

      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      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 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      May 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Good post Chad.

      May 1, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad, His quote implies that he became an atheist while in the church not an atheist who infiltrated the church. There are many examples of church leaders who do not lead exemplary lives (and presumably many more unexposed) so why would JJ need to try to discredit religion when they do a great job themselves.

      May 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Soprano. How exactly?

      May 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad. And his bishop knew so not exactly covert.

      May 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Sweet Dead Jew on a Stick

      Santa....You can be the most deceitful, criminal, s8x pervert and liar in the christian diaspora as long as you bring in the cash. Got to have the money, see George Carlin for further details.

      May 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Tamsyn

      I will be honest here: I have asked both my Christian friends and the two atheists I know (for I have far more Christian friends, and know only those two who are atheist) "was Jim Jones a religious leader?" All of them said yes. I then asked "did you know he was an atheist when he died?" They all said no. I asked, "does it make a difference now if he is called a religious leader or not?" They ALL said no.
      (And Chad? Those two atheists didn't start drooling with glee at the though of JJ being an atheist. They just didn't CARE.)
      My take away is that it just isn't important what he is labeled as. So much ado about nothing.
      If people are that interested, they can start a movement to stamp out JJ being thought of as a "religious leader". Although I haven't a clue as to why anyone would be outraged enough to do that, because in the larger scheme of things, nobody really believes that JJ was a blight on Christianity, only a blight on humanity, IMHO.

      May 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Science

      Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet

      Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142250.htm

      May 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Science

      Oops .........Splat goes the fairy in the sky Chad !

      May 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Science

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

      http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

      May 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Science

      Again Chad thanks for the help........... to show how fruity the fruitcakes of xmas past can be !

      May 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Science

      Chad.....oh well..............Good night !

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

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130224142915.htm

      May 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  13. wjm

    I think as soon as they put on the suicide jacket they've converted. Was Mohammed radical when he went and killed the original followers of Islam and moved its religious centre to his backyard. These people were all supposed to be the children of Abraham, and I don't belief he supported killing people, although I could be wrong.

    May 1, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  14. oOo

    OK, putting aside that "kim" the "agnostic" doesn't seem to get the agnostic component in mainstream atheism, this is just a hoot:

    kim:
    "Exactly what is wrong with the two possibilities presented: we are spiritual having a physical experience or physical having a spiritual experience. Reality is one or the other."

    kim (a bit later):
    "No, thank you for the demonstration of the atheist mindset that must constrain all information to a single box of hammers. My apologies if you lack capacity to understand abstract thought."

    Kim the "agnostic" pigeon-holer, if I were a gambler, I know I would never take you to Vegas with me. lol.

    May 1, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • kim

      o0o
      You are not going to sucker me into some version of Pascal's Wager by offering me a one week all expense paid trip to Vegas. Odds are stacked against Pascal. If there is a god he went to the trouble of dealing the cards knowing their order and you think you can play the game as you choose with your rules. Rather than putting the odds in your favor you bet the house before the first card is turned over. That is an atheist in Vegas. The agnostic would at least be open to turning a card over.
      Yes, I know atheists like to pretend there are many denominations within the godless just to make themselves not look like godless fundees. To say the unknown or unknowable cannot be supernatural is simply being a super fundamentalist.

      May 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • fred

      kim
      Given your two choices you must be a materialist and see an occasional person having a spiritual experience.

      May 1, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • kim

      Fred, my mobile app lost that page but what I probably said was we are physical (i.e. in the natural observable reality) with an occasional spiritual experience. I have read the bible and everyone was subject to the same natural laws regardless of belief much as it is today. Every so often a person or group gets lifted up into a higher level of awareness. Personally I like the American Indians and their Peyote buttons. If you are going to see your spirit guide psychoactive alkaloids are dependable transport agents.
      With the American Indians we can account for the cause and effect of the Peyote and can infer that visions of the spirit seem real but are illusion. With Hebrews and Christians I can only assume the soul and spirit world must be illusion until I can see some measurable cause and effect.

      May 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • kim

      Fred, I have enjoyed some C.S Lewis books lately and he has some well thought out reasons for God (the God of the bible). You may want to check that out as you really only have reasons to believe after you believe.

      May 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • oOo

      kim still doesn't get the "hoot" part of my post. The pigeon-holing that kim is guilty of has nothing to do with me or my beliefs actually. kim claims to be open to abstract thinking. Then why immediately draw a line that would suggest four possibilities and then claim there are only two options? For things unknowable for many agnostics, this doesn't sound like a very open stance – especially when kim then calls out someone else for being so limiting. I can certainly understand arguing for two possibilities, but saying there are only two possibilities is another matter, isn't it?

      May 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • oOo

      kim: "Yes, I know atheists like to pretend there are many denominations within the godless . . . "

      and so far you've not shown that you don't even possess a wikipedia-level understanding of mainstream atheism

      May 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • kim

      0000000000hhhh, perhaps if I restate the possibilities. The Supernatural exists or does not exist.

      May 1, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • oOo

      Yes, well that's a whole different game in Vegas, kim.

      May 1, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Austin

    @ KIM
    "Sorry to burst your bubble but science cannot and has not bothered to disprove the bible. It is individuals with belief agendas that drag science into personal expression of faith.
    There is no proof as to where ancient oral traditions originated before it took written form so you cannot claim to know where they came from."

    good point Kim. and very true.

    May 1, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Science

      Austin..............follow link cool science

      https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/29/new-film-examines-science-vs-religion/#comments

      May 1, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • Science

      And comment ? ...............after you read comments !

      May 1, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Austin

      i dont have time this morning good ol buddy ! hows it going man? I love science, and looking back I will never forget how the Lord has reached out , interveined and given faith. So lets learn how to work this together without denying a holy and just living God our respect and admiration, thankful for life He gives in both ways.

      May 1, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Reality

      Austin,

      Where was your loving and just god when the following took place????

      "At least 75 million people on three continents perished due to the painful, highly contagious Black Plague. Originating from fleas on rodents in China, the “Great Pestilence” spread westward and spared few regions. In Europe’s cities, hundreds died daily and their bodies were usually thrown into mass graves."

      May 1, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Science

      You know Austin as you posted on the link above......................

      Austin

      you can explain religious crazies the same as explaining an atheist. but it you are an atheist, you have no confidant ability to explain the revealing of God's word. Because you have never experienced it. So you don't know.

      Quit acting like you know.

      2 Corinthians 6:16 ►

      What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

      May 1, 2013 at 7:26 am | Report abuse | Reply

      Science

      Wow .........austin..............thanks for helping !

      May 1, 2013 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |

      May 1, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Science

      And Austin you could have been on the menu !

      Fish Was On the Menu for Early Flying Dinosaur Bye Bye doogie !

      Apr. 22, 2013 — University of Alberta-led research reveals that Microraptor, a small flying dinosaur was a complete hunter, able to swoop down and pickup fish as well as its previously known prey of birds and tree dwelling mammals.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422154925.htm

      May 1, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Science

      Austin come on now ...................one for the brain game !

      Unusual Anal Fin Offers New Insight Into Evolution

      Apr. 10, 2013 — An unusual fossil fish that has fins behind its anus

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130410082201.htm

      Many more can be added to the brain game Austin !

      May 1, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Which God?

      Austin for your perusing pleasure. The military does not need your type of BS. http://video.foxnews.com/v/2342660060001/will-us-military-court-martial-christians/?playlist_id=921261890001
      I hope they do so.

      May 1, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Which God?

      Science, Austin may not have a anal fin, but he is anal-retentaive. He can spew the schiit

      May 1, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Science

      Which God?..................if he follows the link to the science vs religiion article.............he will find out where is head is at !

      Peace

      Double post on purose ! Austin

      May 1, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Science

      Austin...........rather read the fossil records................... OK........... education for works or children !

      First Snapshot of Organisms Eating Each Other: Feast Clue to Smell of Ancient Earth

      Apr. 29, 2013 — Tiny 1,900 million-year-old fossils from rocks around Lake Superior, Canada, give the first ever snapshot of organisms eating each other and suggest what the ancient Earth would have smelled like.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429154107.htm

      May 1, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Science

      Made it easdy for you Austin !

      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      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 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      May 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  16. saggyroy

    Remember, this is only the CNN Belief Blog. Nothing will get solved. Nothing will get proven. No one will win a Nobel, or Pulitzer. It is just entertainment, but I can't stay away from it.

    May 1, 2013 at 6:01 am |
  17. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    To Christians,........1Cr 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.".

    May 1, 2013 at 4:51 am |
  18. jasondcronin

    Anyone truly acquainted with Mormonism would say that this religion fits the bill here. P.S. I'm Mormon.

    May 1, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  19. Costaire

    I’m confused, are they talking about U.S. policy or religious extremism. Or are these two ideas even mutually exclusive?

    May 1, 2013 at 2:27 am |
  20. donner

    My favorite quote from Thomas Jefferson. "If God is so powerful, why does he need a human government to prop him up?"

    May 1, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • biggles

      He don't

      May 1, 2013 at 3:31 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
Advertisement
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.