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. mirror

    @ Hamhock, Do you prefer the term secular atheist to describe Mao and Stalin? Or do you prefer the term extreme secular humanist? Or extreme secular atheist?

    Whichever term you prefer, however the reality is still the same. They abolished God, and the state assumed the vacuum. Atrocities followed. This is not my wishful thinking. This is not imaginary. This is history.

    May 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • mama k

      You can simply view these rulers as atheists or humanists in the same way that some would view Hitler as a Christian. It's just not helpful to draw an association between a handful whacko evil rulers of the world and the closest philosophy they seemed or claimed to be aligned with. Some people in South America late last year – educated people – sacrificed a baby into a bonfire believing the baby was an antichrist – should we be associating that group with all Christians? Stalin and Mao took a lot more away from the populations that served them than religion. Do you really think they would have been able to carry out such atrocities if the only rights they took away from their people was religion?

      May 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • fred

      mama k
      Atheists realize they are powerless over God or the belief in God. Since they cannot see the truth or the reality of what believers see it is a threat.
      Christians also see the treat of a godless world as we have been warned about the day when the godless rule just before the end of days. People react to the unknown and fear is dangerous.
      Hitler is a different story perhaps more along the lines of Pol Pot than a Christian.

      May 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Rebecca

      I think "claimed" is closer to the truth. The monsters like Hitler and Stalin are psychopaths... they claim to be what they are not and use other people's beliefs against them.

      May 18, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  2. Ben Jones

    Richard Dawkens is a Charasmatic leader... He says anyone who doesn't believe what he believes is deluded... Getting rid of religion justifies his being rude all the time... He believes the end of religion is near? 3/4 anyway.

    Honestly though, everyone is evil by at least two of those definitions... Who honestly believes their core beliefs, whatever they are, are wrong? Makes no sense.
    You can't legislate against idiots or bad luck... That's my belief. Believe what you want, and let people yield to their own conscience.

    May 17, 2013 at 5:07 am |
  3. H.B.

    There WAS a time before any religion existed. People were happier. They didn't hate women, didn't hate people of another color, and virtually all of them believed in the only Creator possible: the Earth. To them Earth was a goddess, the Mother of all that lives. Which, in a very literal sense, it IS. Not necessarily a goddess, though. Their Earth Mother didn't judge, didn't proselytize, didn't have hissy fits, as the male god of most religions does. She merely made – and LOVED – all that lived. Nothing science can learn can possibly contradict this ancient spirituality. They were worshiping nature, and science is the study of nature, itself. Totally compatible.

    Religion came, and changed all that, didn't it? Can we claim it is for the better? I see no improvement over what ancient people had with their Mother spirituality. Religions invented a male god, and their purpose was entirely bent on controlling people politically. Which it does, doesn't it? The Mother would have cared nothing for politics. Justice was for us to make, among ourselves; it wasn't her job to meddle in. The morality people already had was thorough and adequate: "Do no harm." They needed no god to outline morals to them.

    All life springs from the Earth. Evolution started because the conditions on Earth had made it possible. It was not always possible. We breathe air, all of us, and think it is the only atmosphere possible.

    This is wrong. Earth's first atmosphere was ammonia, methane, nitrogen, hydrogen and traces of oxygen and CO2. No life, as we know it, could have evolved or survived. But life NOT as we know it, did come about. It was fragile, though, and could not survive when the atmosphere underwent radical changes. Their food came from strong ultraviolet. When some organisms developed chlorophyll, they could use visible light for food instead of ultraviolet. This enabled a vastly larger food supply. The life forms with chlorophyll had, as a WASTE product, oxygen. This was what made the development of animal life possible. Oxygen in the air doesn't STAY in the air; it combines with many things, depleting the atmosphere of oxygen. We would not exist if not for the oxygen supplied to us by the plants. Remove all plants, and Earth's atmosphere will revert back to the original one, and all life forms that thrived in our present atmosphere would die.

    ALL life comes from the Earth. All. THAT is our Creator, if we must have one at all. That doesn't mean we should worship it as a god; it only means we should respect the hand that feeds us.

    The way we are despoiling the Earth will be our own undoing. If we harm the atmosphere enough, it could revert to the original, especially when we damage the ozone curtain that protects us against the horrific hammering that strong ultraviolet can do to living things. No more ozone curtain, and we'll return to the original atmosphere. Try to breathe THAT.

    We owe every single breath we take to plants. And only to plants. And plants owe their very existence to the Earth.

    What goes around comes around.

    May 17, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • Ham

      Your grasp of anthropology and history is not all I could wish, but I've seen you write better stuff. This is old news.

      May 17, 2013 at 3:19 am |
    • Karl Miller

      I'd love to see your evidence of a time before any kind of religion. The oldest writings of ancient eastern and mesopotamian thought all reference different types of beliefs in gods and creators and natural laws of right and wrong, etc. If you're suggesting there must have been a kind of post-plant person that had no concept of any belief system and was by default 'happier'... well, i'm gonna have to see some evidence on that one. History may show some agrarian people who had less war... that doesn't necessarily mean they were 'happier'. History gives us very little about what was actually going through peoples mind. Seeing as we repeat age-old ideas, I have a feeling mankind has had the ability to be both religious and grumpy for a long time.

      May 17, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • llight

      if all life comes from Earth from where came the EARTH?

      May 17, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Earth came from the planetary nebulae that formed the sun at its center about 6 billion(?) years ago.

      May 17, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • light

      from where came planetary nebulae ?

      May 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Thank you for your comments. The original life forms that cannot tolerate oxygen are still here with us as anaerobic bacteria. The original life forms exist, just in a much smaller biome.
      There is an enormous amount of cooperation, which is a better survival tool than the purportted "survival of the fittest" being blabbed about. Teams are generally "fitter" than solo monsters.

      May 18, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • light

      Cpt. Obvious why you did not answer?

      from where came planetary nebulae ?

      May 18, 2013 at 5:01 am |
    • Science

      END TIMES AYE CHAD !................chad has so many webs ?

      8, 2013 — An international team of physicists has found the first direct evidence of pear shaped nuclei in exotic atoms


      Plus new woodland lizard found in Peru !

      May 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |

      May 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |

      May 18, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • light

      I will ask and you will answer untill we reach the first element,and the question will be the same.......who created the first element?

      May 18, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      You make a presumption that there was a who. There is no indication of that.

      May 18, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  4. llight

    can you answer this question please:

    Inwhich language to speak of Christ upon return?


    May 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • headlessthompsongunner

      I'm not so sure he wants to come back any more, but I have a question...
      Do you think he'd be happy with the Christians of the 21st century?

      May 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • light

      He will come again in the middle east area,that is why the antichrist wants to destroy that area.
      one more thing,there is an army for the antichrist will be used to control the world,do you know which army is that?
      It is the US army.
      because of that reason we can see the US military bases in everywhere in the middle east preparing the stage.

      May 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      light: Wow, where are you getting that load of crap from? You know that no-one has ever come back from the dead and the bible is nothing more than a giant fairy tale written to fool the fool.

      May 18, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • light

      The christ didnt die,and bible is a holly book but the antichrist ans satan hands changed many in the bible to match their plans.

      May 18, 2013 at 6:06 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      light: You are beyond wrong...show the evidence to support your claims and do so without using the bible. Outside of the bible there is no evidence to support your god, jesus, satan, any of it. You sound like you're repeating what your parents and minister have spewed at you and not actually basing it on any research...fools leading fools. Just because there is not an answer for something does not mean you get to plug the gap with a god.
      "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."-Carl Sagan

      May 18, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • light

      OK,OK........just calm down.

      Forget about my parents.

      Brain and logic are saying that we can not belive in something or deny it if it has no existence,because of a very simple reason that it has no existence,so there is no need to belive in it or deny it.

      but if somethig has a real existence some of us will belive in it,and some others will not belive depending on what exactly we want i mean if we want to belive or not.

      But the real fact is that thing is there.

      May 18, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • HotAirAce

      light – yet another example of how religious belief rots the brain. . .

      May 18, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Christ said he would return within the next generation. It has been over 100 generations, and no sign of him. It is nothing more than a story in a book.

      May 18, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • light

      But the other religious said he wll come by the end of time.

      May 18, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • light

      By the way Richard Cranium it is funny that you said............."Christ said"

      May 18, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  5. pete king

    Know comment.

    May 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  6. mirror

    When Secular Humanism goes evil.

    1. When the state tries to reach into the private arena of conscience.

    2. When the state tries to eliminate traditional Christianity, either by force or by reeducation.

    3. When the press is marching in lockstep uniformity behind the powers that be.

    4. When the public is largely uninformed.

    5. When loyalty to party trumps loyalty to principles.

    May 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Where did you get this lunacy from?

      May 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • mirror

      Which part is lunacy? I got it from history. Ever heard of Mao and Stalin?

      May 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      You call secular humanism evil, which is a religious concept, so does not apply to the subject you are trying to apply it to.
      Also your post is pointless...are you trying to say this is what is happening now? I know for a fact the "state" is not trying to wipe out christianity.

      Try making a point so it can be put into context.

      May 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The state can behave that way for any ideal, not just "secular humanism." And besides, you described nothing there that bible god doesn't already do, now, and you call it "good" in his case. How stupid.

      May 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • mirror

      @ Cranium. I didn't call secular humanism evil. I said "when it goes evil." I did give it context: Mao/Stalin. Is history not allowed on this forum?

      @ Obvious. Sure the state can be used in this way for any idea. But so can the four things in this article.... So what's your point?

      May 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • mirror

      @ Captain Cranium... By the way calling someone's arguments "stupid" and "lunacy" aren't arguments. That is how children reply.

      May 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • mirror

      @Captain Cranium

      You are both right in some sense. Religion is capable of being used for evil purporses, and evil is a spirtual or metaphysical, or supernatural, or religious concept, so just use the word "bad".

      But if you study the twentieth century, secular humanism was responsible for the most grievous atrocities that have ever occurred. To ignore this is to selectively read history in order to comfort you in your ideology.

      A truly tolerant, open-minded individual would be willing to take a look at the historical record of secular humanism. Study and judge it for yourself.

      May 16, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Ham

      There has never been a political system of secular humanism that committed any atrocities anywhere throughout history.
      People who stare at themselves too much are psychotic or something. You are clearly some sort of nutbar.

      May 17, 2013 at 3:14 am |
    • mirror

      see above for my response to Hamhock

      May 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  7. light

    Why alwayes Richard Cranium and science are ready 24/7 to reply? Are these instructions for you to do like that to inhibit any light may appears to people? Or to destroy their faith?

    May 16, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  8. Science

    In Santa we trust

    With the RCC goes the oldest of old the damn bedVROOOOOOOM..............they need to stay the FVCK OUT OF IT !

    You know with is partner...............the red thing

    May 16, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • light

      in Santa or Satan?

      May 16, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Science

      light.....................fruitcakes from xmas past ?

      May 16, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  9. light

    Tell those atheists what you say about the signs all prophets informed us will happen at the end of time with extreme precision, which is a strong indication of their sincerity

    May 16, 2013 at 6:06 am |
    • The real Tom

      In English, please.

      May 16, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      You are trying to verify some prophet by their "predictions" that haven't come to pass?

      Can't you see the inherent lunacy of this?

      May 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  10. light

    These atheists tell them why not believe in your creator while you believe that everything you're using in your lives must have a maker.

    If you return everything to the logic, the logic says that it is not possible to have the majority of the people of Earth worshipping God fault.

    You are limited and you have to bend yourself.

    May 16, 2013 at 5:32 am |
    • Science

      Recent search Chadie and faith



      Front page there too billie and chadie

      And twitter results..............
      Page 2 of about 4,310,000 results (0.20 seconds)

      May 16, 2013 at 5:45 am |
    • Logic

      Light's point is that Christians are hated because it says so in the bible. If you are simply pointing out that he is hated then you have done nothing to correct his assumption that it is because of a prophesy.

      May 16, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Logic

      Some more friendly criticism...hate is uselss and copy pasta is the atheist equivilant of scripture quotes..it adds nothing to the conversation.
      Please take my words in love I am just trying to help you make your point to the poster.

      May 16, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • The real Tom

      Logic, how do you get that from light's post? It's drivel.

      May 16, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • Joma

      The majority of people used to believe that the earth was the center of the universe, and that everything, the stars, other planets, the sun, EVERYTHING revolved around it. This is not true. The majority of people CAN and often are, wrong.

      May 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • llight

      Joma the majority of people can be wrong for some time but not for all time starting with Adam till the end of life.

      May 17, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  11. light

    Tell those atheists what you say about the news all prophets informed us will happen at the end of time with extreme precision, which is a strong indication of their sincerity

    May 16, 2013 at 3:53 am |
  12. bp

    Ever notice how genital mutilators of children are exclusively people of faith? The same applies to suicide bombers.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Misleading Vividness

      Description of Misleading Vividness
      Misleading Vividness is a fallacy in which a very small number of particularly dramatic events are taken to outweigh a significant amount of statistical evidence. This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:

      Dramatic or vivid event X occurs (and is not in accord with the majority of the statistical evidence) .
      Therefore events of type X are likely to occur.

      May 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  13. bp

    All of these criteria apply to the Christian Right in America, as it defends murder (of abortion providers) and treason (against Democratic Presidents).

    May 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  14. AbleWitness

    How about when anti-religion becomes evil? Materialists / Secular Humanists seem to constantly have a nasty bias going on that sees people of faith as being inferior to them. The Secular Humanists allow their biases to guide their actions when in positions of authority. In the current administration in Washington D.C. we witness how faith-based groups were targeted by the IRS. Pentagon political appointees have been meeting with anti-Christian groups to help guide them in dealing with Christians in the military who are openly Christian. I'm not a member of the Christian religion, but the predjudice I see directed towards them troubles me greatly.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Ham

      It is you who are prejudiced, as anyone can see from your post. Seek mental help.

      May 17, 2013 at 3:16 am |

    When Religious Beliefs are Intelligent and Good;
    here are the 40 Signs:


    May 15, 2013 at 3:20 am |
    • Science

      GOOD NEWS.................below

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/...........by the way 4 signs

      One is the funky red devil of yours. GOOD NEWS

      May 15, 2013 at 6:34 am |
  16. Matt

    nice try Bill, stop embarrassing yourself.

    We both know what Deity you would be following if you were born in another country...

    I'm sure Jesus would mean nothing of importance to you if you were born in Nepal.

    May 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Two Catholic priests were on the journey from Peking to Rome and trekked into Katmandu on Christmas Eve of 1661. While there, an unusual encounter with the ruler of Katmandu, Pratap Malla, birthed a vision for Nepal in their hearts. To their utter surprise, the Raja (King) met with them and promised that if one of the Christian teachers would return to his kingdom he would provide a house and give full leave to preach the Christian faith. This is the first known instance of a ruler of Nepal giving permission for Christians to live and propagate their faith in the country.

      So who knows?

      May 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Matt

      "So who knows?"

      I'll take that as your not willing to admit logic and rationale. Granted who knows can be an answer.

      You see Bill, some people are honest to themselves and others – like yourself – want to dance around and protect your cherished beliefs because you are too scared to question...it is sad.

      The easy answer to this question is simple: And even as an atheist I can admit that if I was born into a country, lets say Afghanistan I would most likely be a Muslim, indoctrinated early and forced to believe this. Little opportunity to questions and told not to by fear.....Yet you are unwilling to admit this....why?

      Actually, you don't even need to answer Bill...we already know.


      May 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  17. Matt

    hmmmm you know what these four signs sound like don't you Christians?

    It is Jesus it a nutshell. I'm sure you won't agree because obviously you guys know the truth (point 1 below) and think a cape flew out of his backside so to speak. but let's have a look

    1. I know the Truth and you Don't: – If this doesn't sound like Jesus, I don't know what is! He preached this to his heart content!

    2. Be aware the Charismatic leader – We can all agree Jesus was very much like this. Delusional maybe, charismatic – not even arguable. YES!

    3. The end is near – Jesus Again!! Jesus was a apocalyptic prophet. He thought the end was near and so did his followers. His followers still BLOODY do!! How ironic is that!

    4. The end justifies the means – Do I need to explain this for you Christians? Jesus once again a prime example!!

    May 14, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Totally backwards:

      Jesus didn't say he knew the truth and you don't. He said he IS the truth and you can know Him.

      Charismatic? Hardly. He was poor, from a little no where town. Not fair to look upon. Rejected and reviled. Cursed and spat upon. Abandoned by even his closest friends.

      The end is near? Nope again. "No one knows but the Father when the time is..."

      The end justifies the means? Yeah, ok, I'll give you that one. Salvation justifies the need for crucifixion.

      Nice straw man though but not really.

      May 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Matt

      //Jesus didn't say he knew the truth and you don't. He said he IS the truth and you can know Him//

      Wow...so much humility shown by Jesus. He IS the truth. How arrogant is that. It is even worse than saying he knows it. Secondly if he IS the truth obviously HE KNOWS it doesn't he retard. He knows he is the the truth...Having problem with logic are you?

      //Charismatic? Hardly. He was poor, from a little no where town. Not fair to look upon. Rejected and reviled. Cursed and spat upon. Abandoned by even his closest friends.//

      Pretty charismatic to have followers no? Charismatic enough to have people die for him as you Christians often claim? or to write stories about him no? Keep trying Bill.

      //The end is near? Nope again. "No one knows but the Father when the time is..."//

      Yet another claim of knowledge (point 1). So much humility. But he is the father is he not? hmm we have a dilemma...so he does know then? Is Jesus god, and God Jesus? whhooopppss!

      //The end justifies the means? Yeah, ok, I'll give you that one. Salvation justifies the need for crucifixion.//

      So god gave birth to himself, to sacrifice himself, for the sins that he himself made. ...CLAP CLAP.

      May 14, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  18. Matt

    hmmmm you know what these four signs sound like don't you Christians?

    1. I know the Truth and you Don't:

    2. Be aware the Charismatic leader

    3. The end is near:

    4. The end justifies the means:

    May 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The Obama administration?

      May 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Matt

      Keep trying Bill. One day.

      May 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • In Santa we trust


      May 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  19. light

    These atheists tell them why not believe in your creative while you believe that everything you're using in your lives must have a maker.
    If you during all of the mind, the mind says that it is not possible to have the majority of the people of Earth to worship God fault.
    You are limited and you have to bend yourself.

    May 14, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  20. faith

    I have accepted that I am flawed because I am human. This does not make me a bad person. I simply try to make amends and learn from my mistakes. One thing I will never do is allow someone else to be punished for my actions. I think that is the height of weakness and immorality. The fact that christians embrace, and indeed, celebrate the concept of a blood-sacrifice human scapegoat is something that disgusts tallulah13
    I have accepted that I am flawed because I am human. This does not make me a bad person. I simply try to make amends and learn from my mistakes. One thing I will never do is allow someone else to be punished for my actions. I think that is the height of weakness and immorality. The fact that christians embrace, and indeed, celebrate the concept of a blood-sacrifice human scapegoat is something that disgusts me.me."

    so? lady, quit your whining. get a job and a life. who cares what you think?

    i hope it disgusts you! it should. you put him up on those timbers. it was your vile filthy sins that killed him. it is your narcissistic, inflated ego that pounded those spikes right through his flesh.

    you are disgusting

    May 14, 2013 at 4:47 am |
    • saggyroy

      Q: And what did Jesus say when they put him up on those timbers?
      A: "Hey Peter, I can see your house from here!"

      May 14, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • HotAirAce

      A classic christian response to someone who believes differently.

      May 14, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • saggyroy

      @Hot – Huh?

      May 14, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • HotAirAce

      faith's response to tallulah13. . .

      May 14, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • Science

      Update : Thank you faith


      There is no fairy in the sky..............with his partner the red devil !

      But.....................MOM AND DAD DID IT !!!..................and NOT with the horn-y red devil `

      Scientists Identify Why Some Fathers Are Left Holding the Baby

      Mar. 12, 2013 — A century old mystery as to why, for some animals, it's the father rather than the mother that takes care of their young has been cracked by researchers at the University of Sheffield.


      That red devil with the funky horns...........and his partner the fairy.........did NOT create US !

      The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life


      Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.

      Human Evolution


      For all POLITIANS see below!

      For all creationists and ID believers...............IT only takes minutes to figure IT out. No fairy in the sky needed !

      New Device Can Extract Human DNA With Full Genetic Data in Minutes

      May 6, 2013 — Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device.


      May 14, 2013 at 6:36 am | Report abuse | Reply


      But Sara..................the POLITICIANS...............military and police forces should know the information and understand IT !


      May 14, 2013 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |


      well, that is wonderful. thanks for sharing.

      so what?

      May 14, 2013 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |


      Maybe they.............the politicians and you faith can learn the truth ..................and everybody around the planet !

      Mom and Dad............created you ............not the fairy in the sky............with the red horn-y devil.


      Chad too.............poke.

      May 14, 2013 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |


      And faith....................they might know already.



      May 14, 2013 at 7:31 am | Report abuse | Reply


      May 14, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • midwest rail

      Science, you DO realize that with your constant posting of the exact same thing over and over (and over), that you have become a carbon copy of faith, right ?

      May 14, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Science

      Not quite,.............maybe chad


      May 14, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • The real Tom

      I have to agree with Steve–except I think you're starting to resemble Reality.

      May 14, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • midwest rail

      Interesting that you aspire to be Chad-like....sad, but interesting.

      May 14, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Science

      No chad like.................... like to poke the sh-it out of him and chaptern 6from and chad knows where.

      May 14, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Science

      A little poke looks like ...........sh-it hit the fan on the other thread.


      May 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Science

      Hey faith..................I remember asking you on Christians Be Nice................about S_EX education if it woked for you,

      and the SH-IT HIT THE FAN..................and pages went bye bye.................too funny................and the dance

      is going on over on the other thread faith...............you know !

      May 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Science

      And chad............they are ALL there.............even loony..............


      May 14, 2013 at 8:18 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.