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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. the AnViL™

    those who believe in the existence of any gods are delusional.

    delusional thinking is a form of mental illness.

    mentally ill, delusional people who believe in the existence of gods should be prohibited from voting, serving on a jury, running for or holding any public office, purchasing or owning firearms, teaching public school, or having any contact with children under the age of 18.

    tolerance of religious idiocy has to end, the sooner the better, and by any means necessary.

    enough is enough.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • Observer

      Chill out.

      Trying to be the atheist version of HeavenSent isn't going to win anyone over.

      Everyone in our country should be free to decide for themselves what the meaning of life is. It's what our country is all about. It is only a problem when one group tries to force their "religious beliefs" on others. That should be the real issue, not something that you (like HeavenSent) are COMPLETELY UNABLE to prove.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      yeah lets give religion a few more centuries at the helm....it ll improve.... right?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • simplyput

      You sound like a complete Nazi, and the true *anvil* of hatred. Drinking and drugs cause mental illness, not faith, hope, and charity. Did the bars just close?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • Hepcat

      Atheist version of heavensent? LOLOL
      Look, Observer, you clearly don't mind lying, so why should anyone listen to anything you have to say?
      Oh, wait, no one does anyway. LOL

      May 6, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      observer

      cant prove elves or unicorns either......

      I like how some Agnostics say ITS NOT EVEN A QUESTION! IT DOESNT COME UP! – yet here they are – on this blog...running this blog.... and completely miss the irony

      May 6, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • the AnViL™

      observer, i am all chilled out, princess. maybe YOU should try pulling your head out of your ass?

      why would anyone want mentally ill people to purchase or own firearms? why would anyone want mentally ill people sitting on juries, or making political decisions at any level of government? why would anyone want mentally ill people teaching children in public schools?

      only other mentally ill people would want that. only other people who share the repugnant delusion that is religion would want those things.

      it is interesting to note that the constitutions in a number of states prohibit atheists from running for public office, or serving on juries...etc... yet people get all bent out of shape whenever anyone mentions reversing things.

      tolerance of religious idiocy has gone too far, and it's way past time to stomp it down into the dirt.

      deal with it.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • Observer

      Hepcat,

      " Look, Observer, you clearly don't mind lying, so why should anyone listen to anything you have to say?"

      I'm always willing to admit when I am wrong. Let's hear your PROOF of any "lie" I made.

      Let's go.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Observer

      the AnViL,

      Princess, you are totally unable to PROVE God doesn't exist, just like the believers can't prove he does. There are an infinite number of possible reasons for the existence of life and you and I can't PROVE EVEN ONE.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • the AnViL™

      simplyput ignorantly spat:

      "You sound like a complete Nazi, and the true *anvil* of hatred. Drinking and drugs cause mental illness, not faith, hope, and charity. Did the bars just close?"

      i love pointing this out to you retards: most good national socialists in germany during the 30's and 40's were faithful xians. yes, that's right... nazis were mostly xian, either protestant or catholic. flat fact.

      intolerance of mental illness and religious bigotry is a good thing – and only stunted retards would disagree and mistake it for plain hatred.

      as for drinking, drugs, faith, hope, and charity.... maybe you too, like observer, should try removing your head from your rectum so you can see the world around you a little more clearly.

      tolerance of religious idiocy is coming to a swift end, and it's about bloody time.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • the AnViL™

      Observer ignorantly spittled out into the aether:

      "the AnViL,

      Princess, you are totally unable to PROVE God doesn't exist,"

      no one has to prove gods do not exist, idiot. what you've done is asserted an argumentum ad ignorantiam... or an argument from ignorance – and that's a fallacy in informal logic... not surprising – as you're obviously an ignorant shithead...

      see – he's how it works, moron:

      the burden of proof rests entirely on the shoulders of those making the positive additive assertion "gods exist". retards like you have been using arguments from ignorance since forever in an attempt to shift the onus of evidence onto the shoulders of those rejecting the positive additive claim "gods exist".

      no, idiot... gods do not exist – and i don't have to do a thing.
      the onus of evidence still rests entirely and wholly on your shoulders – and good luck... because there's precisely no evidence.

      you fail.
      i win.

      cha cha cha

      May 6, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • Observer

      the AnVil,

      Grow up. It's easy to tell when someone has nothing available to support their position – they resort to juvenile insults and their immaturity. Well done.

      The apparent nonsense in the Bible does not eliminate the possibility that something used an intelligent design to create life. It certainly doesn't have to be the God of the Bible or any god. That intelligent design could be from a committee of zombies for all we know. It is just vanity for you to pretend you know for sure.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      AnVil

      they get mad because we are trying to end religion......many jobs in the balance.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Observer, you have somehow gained the misapprehension that knowing where the universe came from has something to do with atheism. It doesn't. Atheism is simple the absence of belief in gods. Beyond that, it has nothing — no creeds, no dogma, no holy books, no revelations, no principles, zip, zero, nada. It's a condition, not a belief set or inst¡tution. Atheism takes no position on scientific matters, altho individual atheISTs certainly do.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      observer

      Try to imagine the being(s)/mind it would take to bring the universe into being...... supreme beings are a pure human construct.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • the AnViL™

      observer – you're just a weak idiot.

      i addressed your stupid comments and set you straight in regards to your retarded, boring argument from ignorance.

      you just cant see past a little invective well enough to decipher that.

      not surprised.

      as for intelligent design: ROTFLMAO!!!

      you are dismissed.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Observer

      RichardSRussell

      The misapprehension here is when atheists claim they KNOW that the universe did not get created by a god. That is the actual issue here.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • Observer

      the AnViL,

      Keep the juvenile name-calling and insults up. Pathetic that that's all you can come up.

      Still NO PROOF of anything. See what new juvenile name-calling you can offer instead.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Humans created the whole god concept you loon! – and weve appeared in the last second in relation to the universe.
      Science is starting to figure out the real story.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • JH1

      @ Observer

      No one would care what anyone believes if those beliefs didn't spill outside believer's lives. Using the logic that "it can't be proven or disproven" is dangerous when unfalsible, extraordinary claims are used to justify legislating the way people are allowed to live their lives.

      That kind of flawed logic lets anyone create any absurd make-believe world they can think of and use the absence of evidence as a defence of the possibility that their delusion is real. If I had a 4000 year old book that said invisible leprechauns constructed the universe out of sub-atomic Lucky Charms with morals x, y and z, and said, "Well you can't prove that they don't exist," and went on to legislate x, y and z according to my beliefs, I hope you would be on the street and in the legislators offices demanding extraordinary evidence for my extraordinary claims.

      It's fine with me if people want to believe in an ancient selection of books about talking snakes, a global flood, people being raised from the dead, and magically multiplying fish and bread written about decades and centuries after they allegedly occured. But those people better damn well have some evidence for these claims if they want to legislate my life based on those stories.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • Observer

      R.M. Goodswell,

      Hopefully, science will figure it all out. Meanwhile you have ZERO PROOF that there could not be some kind of intelligent design involved, "you loon". All you have is opinion.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:45 am |
    • Observer

      "No one would care what anyone believes if those beliefs didn't spill outside believer's lives. Using the logic that "it can't be proven or disproven" is dangerous when unfalsible, extraordinary claims are used to justify legislating the way people are allowed to live their lives."

      Apparently you didn't read my original comments.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      @ observer

      as JH said ...you can use that logic to support any fanciful belief you want,

      Proof: The sciences..... through trail and error we are builing our THEORIES. we are figuring it all out...so far everything we can observe with the tools we have at our disposal makes absolute sense.

      I think you know this...you, like us all here, are trying to drive your point down our throats.... and the theists are sitting here laughing because you are legitimizing their God,

      May 6, 2013 at 1:54 am |
    • JH1

      @ Observer

      I have read all of your comments here, and you cling to this same argument from ignorance. I'm saying arguments from ignorance have no place in any scenario where real people are being affected by unproven claims. Your argument from ignorance is nothing more than an illogical shield for theism / creationism / intelligent design of any kind.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:54 am |
    • Bob

      GO, ANVIL!!! I love seeing Christians thrown to the lions....oh, wait..THAT'S a myth, too!

      May 6, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Observer

      R.M. Goodswell,

      If you have read any of my comments on blogs, you will know that I have been far from "legitimizing God". Believers are free to delude themselves into thinking I am endorsing any form of religion.

      No one would be happier to find out where life came from. I am all for science. We will get no new information from the Bible.

      The bottom line is still that NO ONE KNOWS. A good argument could even be made that we are all avatars in some giant cosmic video game. I could make that argument and neither you nor anyone else could DISPROVE me.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • Observer

      JH1,

      Ignorance is claiming you know something for a fact when you have ZERO PROOF either way. Well done.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      It may not be your intention – but you are stepping in the middle of a serious debate that may seem trivial to you, but has been life and death for billions through the ages.

      you don't appear to take it seriously and you are chiding those who do. You say there is no proof- ignoring what ive said completely...there is proof...actual hard proof AGAINST there being any mystical/magical or sheer psionic force of will at the core of reality itself, never mind the Beginning.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • JH1

      @ Observer

      From Wikipedia: An argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or "appeal to ignorance" (where "ignorance" stands for: "lack of evidence to the contrary")

      Are you fine with people legislating and creating public policy based on "zero evidence either way?"

      May 6, 2013 at 2:19 am |
    • simplyput

      The first people the Nazi's came after were the *mentally ill* and sick in Germany. Then religions they didn't understand. People that would've been burned at the stake a hundred years before, and Jewish people. Cnn may have biases, but they shouldn't rewrite history when someone replies to a spew of dominating BS. Good for Observer for fighting for a free mind in spite of you all. Enough is enough when GOD says it's over. And that's what gets Anvil so agitated. He just doe not control it. Adios.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • the AnViL™

      observertard believes that: "Ignorance is claiming you know something for a fact when you have ZERO PROOF either way" which means – he demands that every assertion must be proven true or false.

      that's ridiculous and idiotic. .

      in reality – ignorance is the state or fact of having a lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.

      observertard is, in essence, asserting that if anyone posits the existence of anything – until evidence of its existence is provided, or evidence of its non-existence is provided... they've got to remain in a state of openness to the possibility of that things existence.

      what a freaking joke.

      anyone can posit the existence of anything they please – but without evidence – there's absolutely no good reason to believe the idiocy people spew.

      this includes the existence of gods.

      until evidence of gods, unicorns, elves, and flying spaghetti monsters is provided... it's perfectly OK to suspend belief... and it's absolutely OK to reject those claims.

      deal with it.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:25 am |
    • Doug Wildman

      Educate yourself. http://www.livescience.com/29094-belief-in-god-psychiatric-treatment.html

      May 6, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Observer

      JH1,

      From my original comment: "It is only a problem when one group tries to force their "religious beliefs" on others."

      May 6, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Observer

      AnVil,

      "until evidence of gods, unicorns, elves, and flying spaghetti monsters is provided... it's perfectly OK to suspend belief... and it's absolutely OK to reject those claims."

      I agree, but it is your advocation of violence to reject those claims that goes over the deep end. As totally lacking in ANY PROOF that you are, your advocation of such policies as to keep religious people away from children under 18 shows a mind incredibly closed.

      Pathetically, you remain without the maturity and intelligence to make any comments without juvenile name-calling.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • JH1

      Observer

      "It is only a problem when one group tries to force their "religious beliefs" on others."

      And that is exactly what is happening. A lot. And when logical people demand proof in order to justify having those beliefs forced on them, theists throw up the irrational "prove god doesn't exist!" fallacy as a debate ender in a hail mary attempt to give at least some credence to their claims where none is warranted. It removes rational logic from the debate by invoking the god of the gaps.

      That is the problem with the 'zero proof either way' argument.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:46 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      observer

      you do legitimize the theist position...see simplyput's post. Everyone knows religion is a scam, but nobody is suppose to attack their position.

      we point to our sciences (math astronomy physics astrophysics, chemistry ) our histories and their inconsistencies in their histories. Religion SCREAMS scam.

      They need to PROVE ...not us...we need to build the argument against , which we can do/have done with ease.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • Observer

      Since my original comments seem to be forgotten in the midst of name-calling, here they are:

      Everyone in our country should be free to decide for themselves what the meaning of life is. It's what our country is all about. It is only a problem when one group tries to force their "religious beliefs" on others. That should be the real issue, not something that you (like HeavenSent) are COMPLETELY UNABLE to prove.

      May 6, 2013 at 2:53 am |
    • the AnViL™

      observertard, you weak, ignorant shithead... sometimes violence is the only way to solve some problems.

      only retarded weaklings fail to understand that there are some fires that can only be extinguished with a violent explosion.

      of course – i'm not exactly advocating violence.. that seems to have been your idea... and i have to say – it's not a bad one.... definitely something to look into.

      and doug wildman... as for belief in flatly fictional beings and its therapeutic qualities in regards to mentally ill people... that's wonderful – giving mentally ill delusional people something delusional to focus their mental illness on is great. if that helps them – super!

      i'm not asserting that these mentally ill, delusional people should not be allowed to believe in whatever imaginary man in the sky they choose. they just shouldn't be allowed to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, purchase or own firearms, teach public school, or have contact with children under the age of 18.

      aside from that – everyone should be free to worship whatever imaginary deities they choose – in the privacy of their own homes and designated places of worship.
      ..
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .

      zoop!

      May 6, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      observer

      Freedom of/from religion – I would agree...sure sounds great.

      If religious right didn't intrude into government....meddle in science (hobbling stem cell research. altering text books)....saying who can run for office ( many states, by law, can keep atheists from running if they so chose)
      forcing public prayer into schools, altering text books. then there is the gay rights debate.......

      they violate and bend the rules as they see fit......all to support a living their lie.

      May 6, 2013 at 3:04 am |
    • Observer

      AnVil,

      "everyone should be free to worship whatever imaginary deities they choose – in the privacy of their own homes and designated places of worship."

      In spite of your lack of respect and maturity, something we can agree on.

      May 6, 2013 at 3:19 am |
    • the AnViL™

      observertard – i think it's comical that you believe you can issue insulting statements towards people – yet feel incensed when insulting comments and invective is directed at you.

      deal with it, asshole.

      May 6, 2013 at 3:27 am |
    • Observer

      the AnViL,

      You have been totally UNABLE to make even ONE comment without juvenile name-calling.

      Well done.

      May 6, 2013 at 3:36 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      people of sick bullshiit and sick of those that defend it, sick of cons, sick of scams,

      Sick of PC double talk that expects us to look atl red and call it blue.

      May 6, 2013 at 3:43 am |
    • the AnViL™

      observertard.. you earned my contempt. you felt a need to insult me, having never been addressed by me before – yet you somehow feel above it. laughable. you will notice i addressed all your retarded statements and ignorant arguments - so consider yourself blessed.

      as for my invective directed towards you – own it, princess - because you'll never get anything less from me. you deserve every ounce.

      if you don't like it, tough shit, fuckwit.

      May 6, 2013 at 3:45 am |
  2. Lisa

    Hated minority? Oh please.

    The only hatred is directed at judgmental Christians for their judging.

    You think gay is wrong? Simple. Don't be gay.
    You think abortion is wrong? Simple. Don't have one.
    You want to pray during the day? Simple. Go for it, privately of course!

    Mind your own business and judge what YOUR OWN behavior should be and there is nothing to hate.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  3. sonnie3

    For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, Whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John: 3-16
    The light has come into the world, but some love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil

    May 6, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • devin

      And that sonnie3, sums it up. All the preceding comments, with their attempts at witticism and vilification of the Chrisitan faith, pale in comparison to those simple truths. Touche.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • Hepcat

      Another circle jerk of sockpuppets. How persuasive. Not.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • tallulah13

      The bible tells you you are a sinner. The bible tells you that you will be punished for being a sinner. The bible tells you that you can avoid punishment because an innocent man was tortured to death. All you have to do is do what the bible tells you to do. And you fell for that.

      There is no evidence to support any of the supernatural claims made by the bible. The bible contradicts itself many, many times, and It's morally reprehensible to allow someone else to take punishment for your actions

      May 6, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I get a bang out of how devin identifies the blatherings of sonnie3 as "simple truths". Simple, yes: simple-minded! Truths? Not for any definition of "truth" that those of us in the real world understand. "Truth" involves something that can be demonstrated and independently confirmed. This is just BS blathering starring your imaginary friends from your favorite work of fiction.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • JH1

      Absolutely agree with Richard. It's fine if you want to post text from your book, but using it to dispute a logical argument is essentially putting your fingers in your ears and shouting "lalala I can't hear you!"

      May 6, 2013 at 2:03 am |
  4. Godoflunaticscreation

    http://youtu.be/C3ug8jV0xCg

    May 6, 2013 at 12:33 am |
  5. PiedType

    Maybe it's a long overdue lesson in humility.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • T-bar

      Or maybe they're exactly what they accuse the religous of being ... hypocrites and haters.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      @ T-Bar

      So Atheists are coming from an unfounded position?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  6. T-bar

    It only takes a few minutes of reading these comments to see who the real haters are. Why can't people who preach cultural tolerance show they can tolerate religous people who don't believe the way they do?

    May 6, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Why is it that christians can claim they hate the sin but not the sinner and can't see that atheists hate the belief but not the believer? Are they so weak in their belief that they can't stand it to be questioned?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • Hepcat

      In person, I tolerate what I can. On the internet, I am more honest in my speech. Some call me toxic, but that is nothing compared to the poisonous vicious hatred, insanity, and ignorance enshrined in every religion and expressed so cluelessly by religious fundies everywhere.
      You threaten me with eternal torture so easily, but if I threaten you back it is suddenly a crime. Yeah. I'm going to start calling the cops whenever someone threatens me with eternal torture. That's threatening someone with harm. Felony stuff.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Josh

      They hate the followers of Christ just like they hate Christ. Don't be surprised.

      May 6, 2013 at 6:32 am |
  7. Patrick

    Ra, then Zeus now Jesus. Some other fairy tale will take it's place. Discrimination is discrimination. Don't hide behind a book written by men from a long gone age.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:14 am |
  8. well

    all these comments certainly seem to prove the author's point.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • Hepcat

      You read the article? LOL What a loser.

      May 6, 2013 at 1:05 am |
  9. snyskies

    I have to get sleep, I pray that each here might experience some of His kindness, compassion and truth over the next little while. I leave you with words from the apoltle Peter [2 Peter 3]:

    3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

    8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.[a]

    11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

    14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation

    May 6, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Austin

      great verses. The Holy spirit bears the truth. Keep the armor on.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Athy

      Mindless drivel. You both need to wake up and grow up.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:19 am |
    • ..

      "snyskies" earlier said "This is good news for all of us" with some verses

      who does that sound like ? lol.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      We are now living in the End Times. Like it or not snyskies has a very good point.

      The uneducated won't accept it so they revert to the sky fairy nonsense.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • Larry

      You do realize that 2 Peter pseudepigraphical epistle, and that almost every biblical scholar agrees that Peter did not write it?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • John

      @Heroes – We've always been living in the "end times." New end times predictions come every decade. The Apostle Paul himself thought the end was coming soon. Hint: It never did.

      The claim that the "end is coming soon" has gotten a little stale over the past two centuries.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:34 am |
  10. simplyput

    The haters hate best on CNN sites, but Jesus loves you all.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Rick

      By thge way, where is Jesus? Oh...that's right. I almost forgot. He's invisible.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Athy

      Actually, he's less than invisible; he's nonexistent.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Larry

      If Jesus does then he supports gay rights as much as he supports straight rights.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:34 am |
  11. Kenchandammit

    Personally, I can't wait for the day when it's more common for religious people to be in the closet than for gays.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • Athy

      That day is coming and I can hardly wait. It's already here in parts of Europe, and it'll be here soon.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • Rick

      Religious people are delusional people. They believe things that have no evidence to support them.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • sonnie3

      And when the final trumpet sounds and God comes to claim his followers, you will be shaken in your boots as the pay for standing with the devil is eternal damnation. Its never to late as he is a forgiving God and loves us all. But the unbeliever will be doomed. I hope you soon see the light of eternal life.
      Take Care and God Bless!

      May 6, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • Athy

      And you need more spelling lessons. Why is It the religies have the poorest writing skills? Too much time on their knees maybe?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  12. remy730

    This is america, you're free to hate any group you feel for whatever foolish reason you come up with. This is america and personal responsibility is nonexistent so let's go head a blame a book and not the people that 1/4 of the way follow what the book says.

    May 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • Athy

      Care to rewrite your post so it makes sense?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  13. Free Man

    Only the wicked despise religion.

    May 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Edweird69

      Religion is wickedness dimbulb.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Free Man

      You said, "Only the wicked despise religion."
      Yup, the "leaders of your cult will keep repeating that. That's how they keep the sheeple in line.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Doobs

      Only the intellectually lazy follow religion.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • writerjerome

      Not relevant to this article because more and more Christians now have become educated on the issues involving their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. The list of churches welcoming and affirming LGBT people as members, musicians and ministers is long and growing all the time. It's not religion versus gays; it's old-fashioned prejudices versus thoughtful and educated thinking.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Rick

      Free Man – That's got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Get a clue.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • sonnie3

      Bingo, that is so true.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Ken

      Free Man
      So, you're OK with Muslim radicalism?

      May 6, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  14. snyskies

    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

    "20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." [I Corinthians 1]

    May 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Edweird69

      Do you have any thoughts of your own? Or, are you so brainwashed that copying and pasting scriptures is the only thing left of your brain?

      May 5, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Athy

      Oh, bullshit. Try thinking for once.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Rarely have so many words said so very little. Christians are masters of semantic say-nothings.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Dylan

      Funny how even though it's just a copy and paste, it answers exactly what was being asked above.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  15. LouAZ

    "Thousands of hardline Muslims demanding new anti-blasphemy laws in Bangladesh fought running battles with police, in the capital, Dhaka, Sunday, leaving at least four people dead and more than 50 others injured". V of A headlines 5-5-13.
    If christians thought they could get away with it, the USA would be a christian Bangladesh. One religion is as bad as the other . . . but no one "in" a religion can see that. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha !!!!!

    May 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • Edweird69

      Muslims want even more punishment for anyone questioning their religion. Christians want to ensure more rights (extending rights to gay couples) are not expanded as well. Both cults want their laws to be based on Theology.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  16. popeye1128

    Christians are not persecuted in the U.S. They are the majority. Extreme right wing Evangelicals are made fun of. I'll give them that much.

    May 5, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Edweird69

      They deserve the ridicule they endure. They actually seem to delight in it, and feel like martyrs. A cult at its finest.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • Ken

      Christians are a majority, but ones with so little compassion as to deny gays their due rights are probably a minority overall. If put to a nationwide vote the majority of Americans actually support equal rights for gays, and many of that majority are Christians They're just not Conservative Christians.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:44 am |
  17. ahem..

    Worst kind of hate is the hate done in the name of love.. It is hate, nonetheless.. and still hurts others..

    Second, ofcourse is the "I am better than you, because I am " kind of hate, which both the sides are guilty of..

    May 5, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • Austin

      Did God give Moses the Law because He hated people?

      May 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • Doobs

      God, Moses and "the Law" is a myth, and has nothing to do with love. it's just a means of controlling people.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  18. R.M. Goodswell

    @ otherside:

    The universe is roughly 13.7 billion years old.

    For roughly all of that time..except for about 200k years there were absolutely no gods,godesses, demons, devils etc. then humans started trying to make sense their existence....then some guy hatch god..and gosh...they exploded.to the tune of 5k or so – today we ve more or less cut loose of every last one except the desert God... he's a money maker and a set of brakes on a good portion of humanity, so we are saddled with this nonsense.

    Theist: belief in a supreme, other worldly power for which there is no real proof. can be viewed as extreme.

    Agnostic: probably no god...no evidence, but still cant cut loose of the spirit world completely...the middle ground
    many view this as the 'most sensible' view to have. –
    I personally view this position as just as absurd as the theist, and I feel that theists use Agnostics as a shield.

    Atheist: No gods, not now, not ever..... believe there is absolutely no mysticism – no spirit world...everything has a cause,
    a reason for why things unfold as they do....even if we don't quite have the mechanics down. can be viewed as extreme.
    I fit this group...but unlike the theist, I can back my view with hard fact.

    The universe existed just fine before humans, will continue just fine after Humanity and its gods have destroyed themselves.

    So no, we aren't all Christian ...not even close.

    May 5, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • Lol

      which is why earth MUST be 6000 yrs old.. and god put in the dinosaur bones for giggles.. scientific fact!! 🙂

      May 5, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Troy

      Your personal view is the issue though. While you may have it, it can only be that. An uninformed view. The logical approach you take when you don't know something is

      a) make up a god and decide you know the answer.

      b) Accept that there is no possible way to answer the question.

      c) give up and decide you know the answer.

      It's not that there is any sense of not being able to let go of the possibility of a spirit world.... that's pretty silly. Agnostics don't make up stuff like "oh i hope it really does exist". The question doesn't come up unless evidence is already there. I hope you understand the difference. No pre conceived notions. Get it?

      May 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      @ Troy

      There is no such thing as magic Troy.... no spirit world....get it?

      May 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Troy

      Yeah, I do get it, because ITS NOT EVEN A QUESTION. IT DOES NOT COME UP. Get it? You all are the ones that talk about spirit worlds, not us.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • Troy

      This is the other problem, you didn't even read my post. How could you have read what I wrote and then replied with : there is no magic. DUH! Get an education for real, stop trying to educate yourself. Or others for that matter.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      @Troy

      oh I read your post.....

      May 6, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Oh ...forgot – what's your reasoning behind the uneducated comments?

      seems I struck a nerve with you...

      and just because you don't want it to come up doesn't mean it doesn't...... look at the world today.... its the way it is because religion has had free reign for far too long....too many people giving too much respect to magic BS.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Take Care S.P.:)

      May 6, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • sonnie3

      If you believe that the world is that old please give me proof of that. Of course you can't, I know that. So now did a crow poop on a post and the sun hatch you out or were you like me and I was created by God, along with the earth and the sun and the moon and everything in it. Man can not even produce anything on it own, except thru things given by the good Lord
      Can man even create a single star? Of course not. So to deny that there is a supreme being is fool hardy. But to each his own as God provided us all with a mind to travel this world they way we want to.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • sqeptiq

      @sonnie: Where's YOUR proof?

      May 6, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • Troy

      @sonnie3 Proof that the world is that old. You're joking, right? Radioactive decay. Is that made up too???

      May 6, 2013 at 6:28 am |
  19. asygifvasi

    This just in–it is wrong to hate people who attack others!

    At least, according to Christians who feel they should be able to attack everyone with immunity if their personal reading of their fairy tales tell them it is O.K.

    May 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  20. mercenary76

    amazing that all of the old sins are virtues now and that nothing is really anyone's fault , if no one wants to take responsibility they are victims . the roman empire was destroyed from within and sodom and gomorrah were destroyed because of their evil . who will wonder about the reason for america's fall ?

    May 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Edweird69

      You mean like Canada's, Spain, Norway, etc. etc.?? You're such a drama queen.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
    • asygifvasi

      Wrong, Rome lasted for about 1,000 years. It was only a few decades after converting to Christianity, and outlawing all other religions, that it fell.

      I blame Christianity.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Observer

      mercenary76,

      God said Jerusalem was worse than Sodom and he didn't destroy that. Those were "his" people. It's pick and choose hypocrisy.

      May 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Troy

      Leviticus 20:13

      May 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Sodom and Gamorrah never existed. It's a retelling of an Egyptian legend with the two city names replaced with descriptive names that give away the tale's ending.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Doobs

      @ Troy

      You forgot about these two – or maybe you are just picking out the verses you like.

      Leviticus 20:9 – All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense.

      Leviticus 20:10 – If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.

      May 6, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Troy

      @Doobs, um, no. I don't like any of the bible. I was pointing out that christianity is hardly a religion of peace. Thanks for pointing out more. There is plenty of silliness in Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy.

      May 6, 2013 at 6:25 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.