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When Christians become a 'hated minority'
Evangelical Christians say they are the new victims of intolerance - they're persecuted for condemning homosexuality.
May 5th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When Christians become a 'hated minority'

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - When Peter Sprigg speaks publicly about his opposition to homosexuality, something odd often happens.

During his speeches, people raise their hands to challenge his assertions that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but no Christians speak out to defend him.

“But after it is over, they will come over to talk to me and whisper in my ear, ‘I agree with everything you said,’" says Sprigg, a spokesman for The Family Research Council, a powerful, conservative Christian lobbying group.

We’ve heard of the “down-low” gay person who keeps his or her sexual identity secret for fear of public scorn. But Sprigg and other evangelicals say changing attitudes toward homosexuality have created a new victim: closeted Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality but will not say so publicly for fear of being labeled a hateful bigot.

As proof, Sprigg points to the backlash that ESPN commentator Chris Broussard sparked recently. Broussard was called a bigot and a purveyor of hate speech when he said an NBA player who had come out as gay was living in “open rebellion to God.” Broussard said the player, Jason Collins, was “living in unrepentant sin” because the Bible condemns homosexuality.

“In the current culture, it takes more courage for someone like Chris Broussard to speak out than for someone like Jason Collins to come out,” says Sprigg, a former pastor. “The media will hail someone who comes out of the closet as gay, but someone who simply expresses their personal religious views about homosexual conduct is attacked.”

When is disagreement hate?

Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Illinois, says Christians should be able to publicly say that God designed sex to take place within a marriage between a man and a woman.

“That isn’t so outrageous,” Litfin says. “Nobody is expressing hate toward homosexuals by saying that. Since when is disagreement the same as hate?”

But quoting the Bible doesn't inoculate anyone from becoming a bigot or hater, some scholars say. There's a point at which a Christian's opposition to homosexuality can become bigotry, and even hate speech, they say.

Crossing such a line has happened many times in history.

A literal reading of the Bible was used to justify all sorts of hatred: slavery, the subjugation of women and anti-Semitism, scholars and pastors say.

“Truly damaging speech cannot be excused just because it expresses genuine religious belief,” says Mark D. Jordan, author of “Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality.”

“Some religious beliefs, sincerely held, are detestable. They cannot be spoken without disrupting social peace,” says Jordan, a professor at the John Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

The point where religious speech becomes hate speech is difficult to define, though, scholars and activists say.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama is a nonprofit civil rights group that combats and monitors hate groups. Three years ago, it designated the Family Research Council, the group that Sprigg represents, as a hate group - a characterization the group stridently rejects.

Mark Potok,  a center spokesman, says there’s no shared definition of what constitutes hate speech.

“There is no legal meaning. It’s just a phrase,” Potok says. “Hate speech is in the ear of the beholder.”

'One of the most hated minorities?'

Intolerance may be difficult to define, but some evangelicals say they have become victims of intolerance because of their reverence for the Bible.

The conservative media culture is filled with stories about evangelicals being labeled as “extremists” for their belief that homosexuality is a sin.

Their sense of persecution goes beyond their stance on homosexuality. There are stories circulating of evangelical students being suspended for opposing homosexuality, a teacher fired for giving a Bible to a curious student, and the rise of anti-Christian bigotry.

A blogger at The American Dream asked in one essay:

“Are evangelical Christians rapidly becoming one of the most hated minorities in America?”

The reluctance of evangelicals to speak out against homosexuality is often cited as proof they are being forced into the closet.

Joe Carter, editor for The Gospel Coalition, an online evangelical magazine, wrote a blog post entitled “Debatable: Is the Christian Church a ‘Hate Group’?" He warned that young people will abandon “orthodox” Christian churches that teach that homosexuality is a sin for fear of being called haters.

“Faux civility, embarrassment, prudishness and a fear of expressing an unpopular opinion has caused many Christians to refrain from explaining how homosexual conduct destroys lives,” Carter wrote.

Some Christians fear that opposing homosexuality could cause them to lose their jobs and “haunt them forever,” Carter says.

“It’s easier to just go along,” says Carter, who is also author of “How to Argue Like Jesus.” “You don’t want to be lumped in with the bigots. That’s a powerful word."

Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, says we are now living in a "postmodern" era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It's an environment in which anyone who says "this is right" and "that is wrong" is labeled intolerant, he says.

There was a time when a person could publicly say homosexuality was wrong and people could consider the statement without anger, he says. Today, people have reverted to an intellectual tribalism where they are only willing to consider the perspective of their own tribe.

“They are incapable of comprehending that someone may have a view different than theirs,” Johnson says. “For them anyone who dares to question the dogma of the tribe can only be doing so out of hatred.”

Sprigg, from the Family Research Council, says his condemnation of homosexual conduct does not spring from intolerance but a desire to protect gays from harmful conduct, he says.

Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the council, wrote in a council pamphlet that homosexual men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are straight men. He also wrote that gay men are also afflicted with a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases and mental illness as well.

Sprigg says he does not believe homosexuality is a choice and that “personal testimonies" and "clinical experience” show that some people “can and do change from gay to straight.”

“Maybe we need to do a better job of showing that we are motivated by Christian love,” Sprigg says. “Love is wanting the best for someone, and acting to bring that about.”

'That's a lie'

Potok, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, has little use for the love Sprigg talks about.

He calls it hatred, and his voice rose in anger when he talked about the claims by Sprigg and other Christian groups that gay men are more predisposed to molest children and that homosexual behavior is inherently harmful.

He says the Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t designate the Family Research Group a hate group because they view homosexuality as a sin or oppose same-sex marriage, Potok says. There are plenty of Christian groups who hold those beliefs but are not hate groups, he says.

A group becomes a hate group when it attacks and maligns an entire class of people for their “immutable characteristics,” Potok says. The Family Research Council spreads known falsehoods about gays and lesbians, he says, such as the contention that gay men are predisposed to abuse children.

“That’s a lie,” Potok says. “These guys are engaging in straight-up defamation of a very large group of people. There are not many things much worse than you can say in America about somebody than they are a child molester.”

Potok scoffed at Spriggs’ claim that the council and other evangelical anti-gay groups are victims of intolerance.

“That’s whining on the part of people who spend their days and nights attacking gay people and then some people criticize them and they don’t like it,” he says. “That’s pathetic. It reminds me of slave owners complaining that people are saying ugly things about them.”

What the Bible says

What about the popular evangelical claim, “We don’t hate the sinner, just the sin” – is that seen as intolerance or hate speech when it comes to homosexuality?

There are those who say you can’t hate the sin and love the sinner because being gay or lesbian is defined by one’s sexual behavior; it’s who someone is.

“Most people who identify as gay and lesbian would say that this is not an action I’m choosing to do; this is who I am,” says Timothy Beal, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book.”

Beal, a religion professor at Case Western University in Ohio, says it should be difficult for any Christian to unequivocally declare that the Bible opposes homosexuality because the Bible doesn’t take a single position on the topic. It's an assertion that many scholars and mainline Protestant pastors would agree with.

Some people cite Old Testament scriptures as condemning homosexuality, such as  Leviticus 18:22 - “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” But other Christians counter by saying they are not bound by the Old Testament.

There are those who also cite New Testament scriptures like Romans 1:26-27 - “… Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men. …”

Beal, however, says Jesus said little about sex. And the Apostle Paul, who wrote Romans, was probably referring to male prostitution and men having sexual relations with boys, a practice in the Greco-Roman world.

“Paul does not understand genetics and sexual orientation the way we understand it now as something much more than a choice,” says Beal.

Some evangelicals say Christians can’t change their view of biblical truth just because times change. But some scholars reply:

Sure you can. Christians do it all the time.

Denying a woman’s ability to preach in church was justified by scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:11-12 - “… I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” But many churches have abandoned that teaching - and some scholars say a woman preached the first Christian sermon, when Mary Magdalene proclaimed that Jesus had risen.

Slaveholders in 19th century America justified slavery through a literal reading of the Bible, quoting Titus 2:9-10 – “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything. …” And anti-Semitism was justified by the claims that Jews killed Jesus, such as Matthew 27: 25-26 - “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”

Litfin, from Moody Bible Institute, acknowledged that the Bible once sanctioned slavery, but he said that practice was a “cultural expression” that changed over time. Evangelicals who oppose same-sex marriage by citing the Bible are on more solid ground, he says.

“Marriage is a universal and timeless institution that God set up for maximum human flourishing. He set it up in the first book of the Bible with the story of Adam and Eve. It is consistent throughout the whole Bible. … Marriage is in a different category than those cultural things.”

Public jousts over the Bible's stance on homosexuality rarely change people’s minds. What changes is when people get to know gay and lesbian people as friends and hear their story, says Beal, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible.”

“If you open up to that other person genuinely, you basically come to a point where you have to sacrifice them to your ideology or crack open your ideology to make a hospitable place for them,” Beal says.

One Christian pastor who is gay says the uproar over the ESPN commentator’s comments can actually be good,  because debates help settle moral disputes.

“What appears to us as antiquated and prejudicial now was once a disputed issue that required debate,” says the Rev. Richard McCarty, a minister in the United Church of Christ and a religious studies professor at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania.

Until the debate over homosexuality is settled - if it ever is - there may be plenty of evangelical Christians who feel as if they are now being forced to stay in the closet.

Carter, the evangelical blogger, says he foresees a day when any church that preaches against homosexuality will be marginalized. Just as many churches now accept divorce, they will accept sexual practices once considered sinful.

“It’s getting to the point,” he says, “where churches are not going to say that any sexual activity is wrong.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Protest • Sex • Sexuality • Sports

soundoff (10,982 Responses)
  1. beachgalone

    leave everyone alone to believe what they want as long as no one is hurting each other. everyone should treat each other equally. what's so difficult about this?

    May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Surthurfurd

      good idea

      May 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  2. Esaias

    @NorCalMojo
    Right on! Now here is someone with a brain!

    May 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • == o ==

      There is a reply button Brainiac

      May 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  3. Ben

    Hated is as hated does, kids. You're not hated because you have an imaginary friend, you're hated because some of you are such utter tools about it.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
  4. Surthurfurd

    So this guy is upset that his lack of tolerance is being challenged?

    May 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Esaias

      No, Surthurfurd, just your intolerance and people like you. Hypocrite.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Surthurfurd

      Esaias.. How am I a hypocrite? I deal with people as a near reflection of how they treat others. I just side toward letting them have the benefit of the doubt.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • ..

      Why so hostile, Esaias?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  5. NorCalMojo

    People who hate Christians bother me. They're always mediocre minds who are parroting ideas that have been acceptable for generations. They think they're so original and clever grasping at their low fruit. It's been over 100 years since bashing Christianity was edgy. Heresy laws are long gone. It's not original or clever. If they had any brains or courage they'd be turning their sites on religions that are still causing major problems. Islam seems the most obvious.

    They won't of course, they're just sheep pretending to be coyotes. They won't stray too far from the safety of the herd. I doubt they've had an original idea in their lives.

    They'll keep picking at the group that tolerates dissent and turns the other cheek.

    I could accept their hate, but the way that they think they're intellectually superior just annoys me.

    Just look at the responses, ad homs and parroting arguments that have been around for over 100 years.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Colin

      I spent 14 years going to Christian masses every Sunday. Now THAT is mindless parroting, no different to the week before. I am yet to hear a Christian say anything original. All they ever do is cite (poorly written) 2,000 year old Greco-Roman Jewish mythology. Now THAT is mindless.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Esaias

      Right on! Now here is someone with a brain!

      May 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Answer

      "If they had any brains or courage they'd be turning their sites on religions that are still causing major problems. Islam seems the most obvious."

      ===Take a long hard look at how you are.

      "I'm telling you that you first have to look at those muslims. Leave my own religion alone. Go after some one else."

      Go fvck yourself. Every religion out there is already getting a good dose of backlash. You just want the focus off yours.
      Can't say it yourself because you're the fvcktard coward that you're pretending that you aren't.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Observer

      "They're always mediocre minds who are parroting ideas that have been acceptable for generations."

      I wouldn't put down Christians like that. Certainly not all of them need a 2,000 year-old book to do their thinking for them.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      I'm an atheist/agnostic, btw.

      I have no dog in this fight. I do believe that the most civilized stance on religion is allowing everyone to make their own decisions without threat of persecution. When people start to attack people for the gods they choose to worship, bad things happen. RIght now, atheists are aggressive, ugly and cout of control.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Colin

      NorCalMojo – there is nothing wrong with attacking ideas with all the vigor one wishes. If an idea is strong, it will withstand the criticism. If it is not, it deserves to go.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • kent

      i don't hate christians (got a lot of friends). i hate christianity. it's wrong with all other religions. not a shred of evidence, and the twisting, bending of it is fierce. and most annoying, they accept dumb arguments that they think support their views (see kent hovind or that ham fella). i guess having a god reduce their sin, tell them they will live forever, and their way is the only way makes them feel good. no facts to support your claim. if there was, i'd be right there with you. don't wait for me.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Answer

      @kent

      Don't forgot their ever stupid position of "prove my god doesn't exist."

      When will they ever learn the folly about that argument? Not in my lifetime I think.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Esaias

      Hey Answer, using curse worse doesn't make you look tough. I think if you were man enough to say them to may face you would end up being the coward. Seems to me like you are a scared little boy who knows he's headed for Hell. You won't look so tough then.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Answer

      I'd take you on any day. Words or weapons.

      You filthy religious s-c-u-m want a piece of reality – I always give it. Bring it.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      "They're always mediocre minds who are parroting ideas that have been acceptable for generations."

      Absolutely spot-on description of xtians.

      May 8, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  6. saggyroy

    There are 4 possibilities:
    1. There's a god and an afterlife.
    2. There's a god and no afterlife.
    3. There's no god, but there's an afterlife.
    4. There's no god, no afterlife.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Athy

      Number 4 is the most believable.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Athy

      But number 1 is the most believed.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Captain Kirk

      How about – there are three gods, and six different choices of afterlife.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Chad

      4 possibilities

      It's worth investigating dont you think?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chard

      Since when do you ever think?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And most of Kirk's religions involve green dancing women and Tranya.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Rick

      I'll take number 4 to go.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • ME II

      4 possibilities
      X and Y
      ~X and Y
      X and ~Y
      ~X and ~Y

      Yep, that's all of them.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Chad

      @Answer

      so, you think investigation is a bad idea then?

      why?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chard

      Tell us how you've investigated all the other religions. I've done my bit on yours.

      Can you say the same for yourself? Go and bring out your "Rachel" and have a pat on the back.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Captain Kirk

      Sorry – I lost track. I was remembering Tranya. So captivating in a concentrated way.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Chad

      @Answer "I've done my bit on yours."
      @Chad "well then, what lead you to reject the claims of Christianity?

      BTW, since the God of Israel and any other God are mutually exclusive beliefs, one need only to determine that the God of Israel is real to conclusively determine that all others are false..

      May 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chard

      Go play your sophist games with someone else.

      Let's go over why you can't convince anyone of your bs. Why can't you even convince your fellow young earthers that your view is correct?

      Go on tool.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Answer

      "one need only to determine that the God of Israel is real " <<– sophist bs.

      ===Just state yours is the true one. Funny as hell.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Answer

      @Chard

      Let me hear that you are the only one who can bake the truest American apple pie. XD

      May 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Athy

      Chad, why do you think multiple gods are impossible? You can't even prove that. The number of possible gods ranges from 0 to infinity. My choice is 0, yours is 1.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Esaias

      Hey Chad, the Jesus tells us to not "cast your pearls before pigs". Answer is a pig.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Answer

      Look at the christard with the name calling. Rich.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Chad

      @Athy "why do you think multiple gods are impossible"

      =>The God of Israel claims to be the only real god. Belief in God is mutually exclusive with a belief in any other..

      "Yahweh, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other." Deuteronomy 4:39
      "See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me" Deuteronomy 32:39
      "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me" Isaiah 46:9

      May 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • Captain Kirk

      Excuse me for a moment, Tranya, I have to answer this...

      OK – yes, the god is Israel got t'd because of a vote of lack of confidence and killed off the other ones. What a prick. But he felt guilty and lonely now that He was alone, so He decided to start being nice to mortals. So He went to confession, put on a new suit, hired some new publicists and walla – the new God, Deluxe.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • G to the T

      Belief in the God in Israel may exclude the existence of other gods, but nothing says for certain that your god is telling the truth on the matter. There's a great Hindu story about a god that thought he was the reason for the everything existing... turns out he wasn't right though...

      May 10, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  7. Levi Richie

    “Marriage is a universal and timeless institution that God set up for maximum human flourishing. He set it up in the first book of the Bible with the story of Adam and Eve. It is consistent throughout the whole Bible. … Marriage is in a different category than those cultural things"
    There is nothing to disagree with that statement.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Good. But who cares about the bible.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Answer

      Laughable.

      Go to your church at the age of 65+ and see how much they care about "marriage."

      May 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Except the part about god setting it up.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Surthurfurd

      We could question the existence of Adam and Eve or God? Is that ok?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Joe

      You must be joking, God didn't set up marriage. The you mentioned the old testament which is full of polygamy and God approved.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Joe

      If there was an Adam and eve, that means God approved of incest as well.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Family first

      There is nothing more sacred than the union of a man and a woman that can take the wow of marriage 'till death do us part' seriously. What a blessing that would be to the children and society at large.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Answer

      Religious cretins don't even know the history of how "marriage" came to be as a byproduct of the fees they could charge to increase the church's coffers. When the "governments" took a big bite into their riches that's when they got into their hissy fits about it.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Joe

      Lets not forget, Evangelicals and Baptists have the highest divorse rate!

      May 5, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • clinky

      Actually, that was just my problem with the article, Levi. How, exactly, is marriage in a different category from slavery? In Biblical times, ordinary women hardly had more rights than slaves did. Slavery has been the norm for practically all of human history and was only recently abolished starting about two hundred years ago.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Esaias

      @ Joe
      Where do you come up with such an ignorant statement? Where are your statistics? It's common sense that humanists and atheists have the highest divorce rate. Do you also believe the polls that ~33% of US citizens believe the Bible is the Word of God? There's no way! Just look out on a Sunday morning, 80% of people are still sleeping or mowing.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Answer

      " It's common sense that humanists and atheists have the highest divorce rate."

      ==It's so common that you're that stupid like a parrot without your own basis and proof.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Levi Richie

      @joe, Agree with your comment. Protecting the sancti t y of marriage should be a top priority in the church.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Levi Richie

      @clinky Marriage and slavery are two different things. While human workforce gets better with time in terms of skills and management, marriage is sacred and remains the same as originally insti by God.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Observer

      Levi,

      "marriage is sacred and remains the same as originally insti by God."

      As originally set up by God, marriage was FORCED on r-ape victims with NO CHANCE of divorce.
      As originally set up by God, marriage was FORCED on men with a brother's widow.
      As originally set up by God, marriage was FORCED on slaves.

      You might want to read a Bible.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Levi Richie

      Adam and Eve were the first couple blessed by God as man and wife. That union is sacred, hope statistics will improve and divorce rates will come down in favor of staying married.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Observer

      Levi Richie ,

      Yes, and Jesus said "what God hath joined, let man not separate."

      No divorces for any reason. Ooops. Nevermind. Let's ignore that and pick on gays instead.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  8. Colin

    Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the religion of:

    (a) The ancient Celts;

    (b) Bronze Age Egyptians;

    (c) Pre-Colombian Aztecs; or

    (d) Modern Christians

    Q. 2 You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are:

    (a) a reptile handler who has severe mental issues;

    (b) a five year old boy who just read a fairytale;

    (c) a scientific fraud; or

    (d) a Christian

    Q. 3 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" like protect myself from disease with a condom. I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or

    (d) A Christian

    Q.4 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A gifted psychologist

    (b) A well respected geneticist

    (c) A highly educated sociologist; or

    (d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    Q5. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian

    Q6. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    Q.7 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q.8 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from Christianity:

    (a) Christianity tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Christianity can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas Christianity is regional and a person’s Christianity, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than geographical upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.9 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Q.10 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) the mafia

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) any given Christian church

    Q.11 What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:

    (a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;

    (b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;

    (c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.12 The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:

    (a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;

    (b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;

    (c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions as “boots on the ground” to distribute condoms; or

    (d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.

    Q.13 The statement “I believe in God because the Bible tells me to and the reason I follow the Bible is because it is the word of God” is:

    (a) Circular reasoning at its most obvious;

    (b) The reason 99% of Christians believe what they do;

    (c) Specific to the Judeo-Christian parts of the World and totally rejected by all other parts of the World; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.14 Probably the most fundamental tenet of Christian faith is that God sent his son Jesus to Earth to die and save us from the original sin of Adam and Eve. We now know that Adam and Eve was a myth. As such, any thinking Christian should:

    (a) Honestly and courageously question this and any other aspects of their faith that don’t make sense.

    (b) Make up some euphemistic nonsense like “well, we didn’t mean that literally” after having done exactly that for the last 1900 years until science comprehensively disproved it.

    (c) Just ignore the blatant contradiction and sweep it under the mat; or

    (d) Hold on to the myth because it makes them feel good.

    Q.15 Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.

    (a) Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.

    (b) When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.

    (c) You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint.

    (d) A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.

    Q16. If you are worried that your children, who you love very much, will not believe something you tell them, such as "smoking is bad for you," would you:

    (a) have your family doctor explain to them the various ill effects of smoking;

    (b) show them a film produced by the National Insti.tute for Health on the topic;

    (c) set a good example for them by not smoking; or

    (d) refuse to give them any evidence of the ill effects of smoking, insist that they rely entirely on faith and then take them out into the backyard and burn them to death if you ever catch them smoking?

    And, as a bonus question, what would you think of an "all loving Father" who chose option (d)?

    May 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Esaias

      "The fool says in his heart, there is no God." – Psalm 14:1
      You are are fool (not to mention intolerant and close-minded).

      May 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Colin

      And what did you think it would say, Esaias, "The person who doubts is wise to do so." It is a Greco-Roman Jewish Psalm promoting the Jewish god, you fvcking simpleton.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Dom

      Very well written Colin, and a typical Christian response from Elias. People have been offering logic and facts that demolish the Christian religion and its bible for centuries. Christians respond with quotes from the very book that has been proven false. If they doesn't work, they turn to murder and genocide.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Esaias

      Colin,

      You are the one who's simple, and also someone who knows he can't win an argument so he starts calling people names. Open your mind and allow the possibilty of God's existance. He believes you exist. Your hostility proves the author's point so well. Thanks for being his statistic.

      May 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  9. Joe

    Strange, the hater saying they are the hated ones. Psychological projection was first conceptualized by Sigmund Freud as a defence mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world instead.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Esaias

      @ Joe,
      The problem is this statement could be used against you and you ilk. I think you were the one to hate first. You must be really uneducated to line your intelligence with Freud – that guy was a wack-o himself!

      May 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • cjsspace

      Have you read any of the almost 4000 posts? If you have there is no way to deny that 'Christians' are hated as a whole.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • G to the T

      Hate the belief; not the believer...

      May 10, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  10. Surthurfurd

    People should not expect more respect than they offer others. This goes for all sides. The problem is not belief as much as it is the tendency to impose one's belief on another.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      If that's what you believe your beliefs to be then, who am I to argue?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Chad

      Any rule is by definition "imposing one persons belief on another"
      so
      either you accept that in a society limits are placed on individual freedoms to maintain a moral society
      or
      you endorse anarchy. No rules whatsoever.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Paul Jaramillo

      No one can impose a set of religious beliefs in this country.
      Being a Christian is an individual decision like me.
      If your lips say you are a Christian, but you heart says no,
      then your not. I don't know why we have alll of this talk about forcing or imposing on anyone.
      All I hear is bigotry. A pushy person telling you about the bible is not immposition or anything else, just free speech.
      Just say goodbye, I do not understand all of the negativity here.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  11. Esaias

    Amen Sprigg Amen! All you have to do is read many of the comments here to see all the bigotry and hatred towards Christians. All you haters proved his point!

    May 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Surthurfurd

      I do not hate Christians. I like most of them. I just am bothered by those who call themselves Christian and treat others as if they are inferior.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      You fail to see the Irony. He is getting what he gives.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The only thing proven is that evangelicals can dish out the hate, but whine like babies when people respond in kind.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Paul Jaramillo

      Hatred and bigotry comes from someone who is not secure in their beliefs,
      so that they need to pick up a weapon to defend themselves with. If you are secure, you are at peace and do not need
      to respond with vulgarities making fun of a persons beliefs.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  12. Science Assistant - Weekend Update

    This "problem" is nothing new. Christianity has always been conflicted – certain issues make that conflict more obvious. One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one (over four million members) in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage. Thomas Jefferson hit the nail on the head over 200 years ago:

    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.

    (from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

    Some claim that Christianity and science are not incompatible, yet we find many who continue to ignore science on the issue of homosexuality. Is the problem poor education, steadfastness to one's own flavor of biblical interpretation, or both?

    The following is long, but note the quote from Professor MIchael King below in the section on psychology.
    ================================================================
    Psychology

    The American Psychological Association states "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people", and says most people's sexual orientation is determined at an early age. Research into how sexual orientation in males may be determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises concerns about genetic profiling and prenatal testing."

    Professor Michael King states: "The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice."

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2007:

    "Despite almost a century of psychoanalytic and psychological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation. It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice."

    Biology

    The following is from the article:

    Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find (12/11/2012 – LiveScience)

    [ The search for a "gay gene" may be off-target, new research finds. Another process called epigenetics that switches genes on and off may explain why homosexuality runs in families.

    Epigenetics are heritable changes caused by factors other than DNA. Instead of traits getting passed down through the genes, epigenetic change happens because of the way genes are regulated, or turned on and off.

    These genetic regulators may be the reason homosexuality persists in nature despite the fact that gay people are less likely to reproduce, suggests the new study published in the journal The Quarterly Review of Biology.

    "These things have evolved because they're good for the parents, but they sometimes, not [with] high frequency, but sometimes carry over" into offspring, study researcher William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told LiveScience. In a male fetus, Rice and his colleagues write, an epigenetic change that benefited the mother may lead to "feminization" of sexual preference — homo- or bisexuality. The same may be true for epigenetic changes passed down by dad to a female fetus. (The terms feminization and masculinization of sexual preference refer to sexual orientation only — not to physical or personality traits of the offspring.)

    The findings add to past research suggesting gay men haven't died out, because female relatives of gay men tend to have more children on average than other females. The study researchers specifically found that two genes passed on through the maternal line could produce this effect.

    Hormones, epigenetics and orientation

    Rice and his colleagues focused on epi-marks, which are molecular changes that act like temporary "switches" to turn genes on and off. If a gene is a blueprint, the epi-mark is the construction foreman who makes sure the product gets built. An epi-mark also determines when, where and how much a gene is expressed, according to the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

    These molecular switches are usually erased very early in the developmental process, but they can be passed down from generation to generation, too, Rice said.

    Some epi-marks are particularly important during fetal development, when they promote normal physical development in the sexes despite natural variations in testosterone during pregnancy. Researchers know that fetal exposure to too much testosterone can masculinize the genitals, brain or behavior of a genetically female fetus. Likewise, too little testosterone can make a genetically male fetus more feminized.

    But here's the catch: There's lots of overlap between the levels of testosterone male and female fetuses get exposed to. That means there must be another side to the story, Rice and his colleagues wrote.

    That side appears to be epigenetics, Rice said.

    "Early in development, we think these epi-marks are laid down so that girl fetuses will be relatively insensitive to testosterone and male fetuses will be relatively sensitive to testosterone," Rice said.

    Biological behavior

    Thus, if an epi-mark that kept a mother from getting exposed to high testosterone in development gets passed on to her son — the opposite sex — it could desensitize him to testosterone, contributing to his sexual preference for men. Similarly, if a male-specific epi-mark from dad gets passed to a daughter, it could "masculinize" her sexual preference, making her more interested in women.

    These findings could explain why twin studies show that homosexuality runs in families, but no "gay gene" can be found, Rice said. In identical twins, there's about a 20 percent chance that if one twin is gay, the other will be too. If genetic change were responsible for homosexuality, you'd expect a much higher match, Rice said. Epigenetics, however, can explain the heritability without the need for a specific genetic change.

    The hypothesis could be tested by examining epigenetic marks in parents of kids with gay versus straight offspring, Rice said. There are, of course, concerns that this knowledge could be used by parents who want to avoid gay offspring, Rice said, but that concern already exists around certain hormonal conditions in utero, which are known to contribute to an increased chance of offspring being lesbians.

    "That cat's already out of the bag," Rice said. He added that an understanding of the biological underpinnings of homosexuality could help emphasize that same-sex behavior is not "unnatural."

    "In fact, it's a major part of the natural world," Rice said. Fourteen percent of Western gulls raise chicks in female-female pairs, he pointed out. And 8 percent of male sheep show zero interest in fertile ewes, but get sexually excited by other rams. ]
    ========================================================

    Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science.

    (Thomas Jefferson)

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    (James Madison, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution, framer of the first ten Amendments; from A Memorial and Remonstrance as delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785.)

    May 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • C Vincent

      Thank you. Very interesting information.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  13. WOW!

    Being christian is a choice!!

    May 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Not if your parents drag you to church.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Catholic indoctrination started for me when I was a child. Now I am free to choose. As a child I was not.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Being Christian is the easy choice. Society is tipped towards them. The hard choice is to not be Christian. Religious bias at work often ensues.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  14. His panic

    I think they all are in a state of Panic. Those who trust in God and in Jesus Christ God's only Son will not Panic. All others will Panic, animals do panic, atheists do panic, Muslims do panic, idolaters do panic, fools do panic, hom-os do panic, the Pope of the RCC will panic, I even I may be his Panic. Those who trust in God and in Jesus Christ will not Panic.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Surthurfurd

      I am not in panic. I am rather happy with the general flow of civilization at this time.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Do Hispanics panic?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • WOW!

      Not!!!!!

      May 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Colin

      Yes, religion can be a powerful intoxicant, especially if one lacks the mental wherewithall to see it for what it is. No doubt many Muslim suicide bombers share your delusional, detatched commitment.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Random

      Actually sounds like you're panicking. I'm not panicking right now, you're full of yourself.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Joe

      Did he imply the the Pope does not believe or trust in Jesus???

      May 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • kent

      Zeus won't panic either. the maker of space, earth, and my lust for naked women. all hail the non panicer Zues.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • ..

      He's an asshole who thinks the "His panic" pun is clever; he is, quite simply, a troll.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Pmdww2

      Conservative Christians are being persecuted? Seriously? When was the last time a conservative Christian was not allowed to get married or adopt a child?

      May 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  15. Lamb of Dog

    Paul Jaramillo
    Atheists are not afraid of GOD. Most of us are just tired of god being used to limit equality. And so we rally against the belief in god.
    I believe that religion and churches have done a lot of good in the world. But organized religion has also done a lot of evil. And it seems like churches are more concerned with keeping gays down, and the Catholic Church is doing the same to its female nuns. Churches have always resisted change. Evan when the change is to help us get closer to equality. But I understand that it’s hard for something based on faith to change quickly. It’s a tight rope to walk. Once you’ve convinced your followers it’s not easy to go back on the beliefs you’ve spread.
    So it’s unfortunate but the evils of the church often overshadow the good things.
    I believe that everyone deserves to be treated the same. And I believe most religious people feel the same. But they need to take back their religion from the far right.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Paul Jaramillo

      Many bad things have been done in the name of Christianity, but you must never forget free will.
      Kings of the past used the bible to start wars, even though you will not find any rational for war
      if it is to gain land or resources. The only real reason for war is to defend your people from slaughter.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Esaias

      @ Lamb of dog (or in reality child of Satan)
      On what basis do you believe everyone should be treated as an equal? It's only your opinion? Remember you have no right to impose your opinion on others (as you probably also shout out Christians), since you are a relativist, otherwise you are a hypocrite!

      May 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Ask an inteligent question like Paul and you might get an answer. Otherwise out of the way peck.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Esaias

      It is an intelligent question. If you had an intelligent answer you might reply with something, moron. I guess I just put you in a quandry – either way you answer, you're wrong!

      May 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  16. Colin

    This is all because we took prayer out of the schools. I am going to suggest that we not only making prayer permissible in government schools, but make it mandatory.

    We do it in the following manner. Upon entry into high school, each child “adopts” a wounded veteran or other person who has a visible and incurable condition, such as a lost leg, arm or eye. Each day the children pray to God that the person recover their lost appendage. Those children who have other beliefs can bow, chant, jiggle an amulet, stare into a crystal or do whatever they wish to “pray” for their chosen ailing person.

    Five years later, at their graduation, prayer can put up or shut up. We parade the injured people through the graduation ceremony so the children can see the results of their 5 solid years of constant prayer.

    Just how many limbs, eyes or ears do you think will have re-grown? And why are you so sure of that? Does God hate amputees? Why does he always have to hide his medical miracles inside the body of the sick, where things are less medically certain?

    The doubtless, consistent and universal failure of their prayers will help the students understand:

    (i) that there is no god listening and that praying is a futile exercise when the results can REALLY be tested;

    (ii) the frailties of their religious leaders as they scurry for excuses –“god won’t be tested”, “god moves in mysterious ways,” “perhaps the people have been healed spiritually”, etc; and

    (iii) the weakness of human nature (and a basic lesson in politics) as the religious right moves to shut the experiments down.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Joe

      who would you pray to? Every single student has the right to choose their own religion and God or no God at all! This is why you need to keep prayer out of school and into your church and your home. You can't force people to pray to your God. Freedom of religion!!!!!

      May 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      I am trying to find a good school without god. The last one I went to was crazy. Why must we indoctrinate our children at such a young age. Can't we let them grow up and decide for themselves?

      May 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • basilio

      I'M STILL ENJOYING YOUR IRONY,YOUR HUMOUR FITS ME WELL.NEEDLESS TO SAY,YOU ARE A VERY,VERY INTELLIGENT MAN.IN FLORIDA WE NEED MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU

      May 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  17. Paul Jaramillo

    There is no possible way that religious wars have killed 809 million people, it is not possible.
    The human population only reached into the billions in the last 100 years due to the industrial revolution.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Tobias

      You are obviously a moron without a grasp for mathematics. No one is implying that many have been killed at once- so the highest population at any period in history is irrelevant.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  18. Bostontola

    There are places in the world where Christians can be persecuted. The US isn't one of them. The only majority that acts like an oppressed persecuted minority is the Christians. Stop being a whiney bunch of losers.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  19. NorCalMojo

    Hating Christians is the safest form of bigotry.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Colin

      Few people hate Christians but many, many think they are pretty stupid.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Snow

      aww no .. don't say that..

      People don't hate christians.. People hate the hypocrisy/bigotry they support

      May 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • saggyroy

      @Snow: Hate the hypocrisy not the hypocrite.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      "waaaah, waaah, fvcking waaagh" – norcalslowblo

      May 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • G to the T

      Hate the belief; not the believer

      May 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  20. Joseph Bleaux

    Evangelicals are too stupid to even bother hating them. You shouldn't hate mentally retarded people.

    May 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • His panic

      You must be brilliant, the brightest bulb in the box!

      May 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • mark

      Spoken like a real single digit IQ. Stop talking you are giving smart atheist a bad name.

      May 5, 2013 at 7:13 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.