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In Oklahoma, a balm after the storm
Volunteers unload donations for tornado victims at the First Baptist Church on May 23, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma.
May 25th, 2013
06:05 PM ET

In Oklahoma, a balm after the storm

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - For six days, First Baptist Church in Moore, Oklahoma, provided food and shelter to victims of Monday’s deadly tornado. On the seventh day, the church offers another scarce resource: solace.

“Simply put, we are urging people to draw near to the Lord and near to each other,” said Kevin Clarkson, the church’s senior pastor. “As bad as this time is, we find that God will give us comfort and solace and hope for the future.”

Four of the nine children who died in Monday’s tornado had ties to First Baptist. On Sunday evening, the church will host a prayer service called “Oklahoma Strong: Coming Together in Faith,” which Gov. Mary Fallin is expected to attend.

In all, 24 people perished as a result of Monday’s tornado. Nearly 400 suffered broken bones and bruises, and 1,200 homes in Moore and Oklahoma City were damaged or destroyed, according to state officials. The twister’s tenacity took even Tornado Alley by surprise.

But as cleanup begins, imams, pastors and rabbis in the deeply religious Sooner State are encouraging believers to draw on the deep wells of their traditions for spiritual sustenance. The common message across the faiths seems to be: God’s voice was not in Monday’s whirlwind but rather in the steady, quiet aftermath of neighbor helping neighbor.

“What happens may be random, but how we respond to it is not,” said Rabbi Vered L. Harris of Temple B’nai Israel in Oklahoma City. “Making our responses holy begins with noticing the potential for sanctity.”

One block, two tornadoes: Life in the crosshairs

At Shabbat services on Friday night, Harris read a prayer asking God for the wisdom “to know how we can help” and “the calm to bring comfort.”

Like Harris, Abdur-Rahman Taleb, the director of youth services at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, focused on the human response to Monday’s tornado.

“I find it amazing how people will come together across their differences for a common goal,” Taleb said. “The amount of people who came forward from the different faith communities to help those in need, regardless of their beliefs, is extraordinary.”

Taleb said his sermon on Friday focused on the Quran’s second chapter, which tells Muslims that God tests the faithful with “fear and hunger and loss of property.”

Passing that test entails remaining patient amid calamity, the Quran says.

“We want to be mindful of God day in and day out, whether we’re going through good times or bad,” Taleb said.

At Journey Church, an evangelical megachurch about 10 miles from Moore, Sunday’s message is about rebuilding, said Pastor Sam Wampler.

The congregation will look to Nehemiah, who restored the walls of Jerusalem, for inspiration, said the pastor.

“We are far enough in now where the grieving, the anger, is kicking in,” Wampler said. “People need that hope.”

Photos: Pets rescued after Oklahoma tornado

Pastor Bobby Gruenewald of LifeChurch.tv, which has 11 branches in Oklahoma, said his message on Sunday will focus on two key questions: Where is God during tragedies? And what can Christians do to help?

“It's been a tough week but also an encouraging one as we've seen a tremendous response from the faith community,” Gruenewald said. “Churches from just about every denomination we can think of are coming forward with offers to help.”

A garden statue of the Virgin Mary stands in front of a window shattered by the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

Some of the tornado’s first-responders have been turning to the Rev. Thomas Boyer, the longtime pastor at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in nearby Norman, Oklahoma.

“It will be tough on them now,” said the 72-year-old priest, “and it will be tough on them later.”

Boyer said he’s still searching for the right words to say in response.

“Normally my homily is done on Thursday and posted on the website, but it's not even done," the priest said on Friday afternoon, as day darkened into night.

Boyer will have some help: the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City adjusted the prayers and petitions for Sunday Mass to address the area's tribulations.

But sometimes there is nothing to say other than “look to the Lord,” said Clarkson, who has already presided at the funerals of three young tornado victims.

Perhaps that’s why Jared Bowie’s photo of a dark tornado twisting toward a cross has gone viral.

Bowie, an intern at LifeChurch.tv’s campus in Edmond, Oklahoma, said his image has graced thousands of blog posts, media reports, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts since he posted it to CNN’s iReport. One woman even printed out the image and hung it next to her wedding photo, Bowie said.

The picture was taken on May 19, when another tornado, a less destructive forebear of Monday’s deadly whirlwind, churned through Oklahoma. Nonetheless, the image has become inextricably tied to Moore’s loss of lives and homes, and the ultimate source of salvation for Bowie and other Christians.

“People are going through severe suffering right now,” Bowie said. “But in those times, our Savior can provide so much hope. There is light in the darkness.”

Eric Marrapodi, Dan Merica and Jessica Ravitz contributed to this report.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church • United States

soundoff (1,053 Responses)
  1. Tully

    Athiests that put down ones Religious Beliefs are Bullies, pure and simple.

    May 27, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Observer

      Believers who put down atheists are bullies.

      What was your point, if any?

      May 27, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      To put down believers is historically a kindness. Christians have repeatedly burned alive, flayed alive, stoned, threatened with death and so on, anyone who didn't believe what they believed or threatened them. We're lucky to live in a time where ridicule is sharpest attack.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      So do you say the same for religious believers who put down atheists? There are plenty of those, right here on this blog.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Clausen

      GodFreeNow, are you suggesting that Christians are the only group in history to commit those crimes? If your referring to the middle ages, it wasn't just the Church doing that stuff, it was everyone. And you realize you just made that comment under an article about that same religious group helping out their community? Oh the irony.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • LinCA

      @Tully

      You said, "Athiests that put down ones Religious Beliefs are Bullies, pure and simple."
      Atheists*

      Consider it a public service. It's an attempt to get believers to see that at the core of their entire belief system and religion is a belief that is no more rational than a belief in the Tooth Fairy.

      Everyone is free to do with that information whatever they want. You can get offended about the delivery, stomp your feet and run off in a huff, or you could use it as a starting point to evaluate the irrationality of your beliefs.

      The choice is yours, blissful ignorance or realism.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      @ Clausen, I don't mean to suggest that only Christians are guilty. Those who follow ignorance and renunciation are always trying to destroy those who follow reason in the pursuit of truth. I could mention the ancient greeks who imprisoned and sentenced to death Socrates, or Nero who murdered his tutor Seneca. I point to religious groups however, because they stand alone in their collective persistent legacy and reptitive and systematic attempts to destroy anything which opposes their ideas.

      The Romans are dead and gone. The ancient Greeks are all but forgotten. Religion, and its henchmen are alive and well and working ceaselessly to undermine science, reason and truth. Pointing the finger to other guilty parties does not exempt your party from responsibility.

      May 27, 2013 at 2:11 am |
  2. blerg

    Religion is such BS. When bad things happen, it's not God's doing, but when good things happen it's all because of God, not because people worked hard at it. Such a cop out with respect to personal responsibility, ignorance and discrimination.

    May 26, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
    • Tully

      Tully says:
      May 27, 2013 at 12:25 am
      Athiests that put down ones Religious Beliefs are Bullies, pure and simple.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • mikeyhester

      Oh come on Tully that's all it takes for you to tuck your tail? How bout a little dialogue. Amen, blerg. "Thank God everyone is coming together to help out". What crap. Of course we're going to help each other out in times of tragedy, it's human nature and it's existed long before man made religion.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ Tully .... you probably do thank your "god" for the survivors of this storm. But, do you also blame your "god" for sending the EF-5 tornado in the first place? Since sceince hasn't quite nailed down exactly how a tornado is formed yet (but they are oh-so-close) it must have been your "god" that sent it, right? You say that Atheists who put down the religious are bullies, but how many Atheists come knocking on your door to tell you that you are inherently bad and MUST be "saved"? Now THAT is bullying. How many Atheists are on TV telling you to send money because if you don't "god" will punish you? Telling someone that a "god" will eternally torture them if they don't follow what you say "he" wants, THAT is bullying. It's coercion, and it's against the law.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • Athy

      Way to go, Mirosal. But do you think he'll understand any part of it?

      May 27, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ Athy... probably not, because some of the words I used were more than 5 letters and/or one syllable 😉

      May 27, 2013 at 2:20 am |
    • Athy

      I know what you mean. You really can't dumb it down enough for them.

      May 27, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • StupidAtheists

      Atheists who put down religious people are complete ignorant morons with no morals and values. Try to help and do your part in this world instead of just sitting in front of your computers and doing nothing.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:15 am |
    • tallulah13

      Again, Stupid, you show yourself to be nothing more than an ignorant, trolling hypocrite.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:17 am |
    • StupidAtheists

      There is no hypocrisy on my part, i'm telling you the truth about you, the truth that are nothing else but a bunch of losers.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:23 am |
    • Mirosal

      I am at work now, earning my keep. I've also donated $100 for relief efforts in Oklahoma. I don't have a lot, but they need that $100 more than I do. And I really don't care about a receipt for it either, I'm not going to claim it on next year's taxes. So what have YOU done so far?

      May 27, 2013 at 4:27 am |
    • StupidAtheists

      My reply to you was suppose to be here but by mistake it's on the top of this page.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:35 am |
    • Mirosal

      Well, you've certianly lived up to the first part of your screen name.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:40 am |
    • StupidAtheists

      My name has nothing to do with all atheists, but to those atheists which have no respect for others. I have no problems with atheists who makes sense, Only those who are constantly attack others because of their beliefs.

      May 27, 2013 at 4:49 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      @StupidAtheists
      I respect you as a human being but reject your religion because it is nothing but a brainwashing system.
      When I point this out, most religious people take it personally – but it is not personal.
      You are the victim of a crime, a mark in a con-game. How can I hate the victim?
      You people need de-programming to free you from your mental slavery.
      But you love your chains even though they destroy everything around you.
      You cannot help it according to the level of belief you have. Some escape a cult easily, some never do.
      What do you want? Do you want to be free or a slave?
      And since you are already a slave, you cannot make that decision freely.
      Do you see how we can get mad if you refuse to face evidence in front of your eyes?
      Look up the word "delusion" and see if that doesn't fit what religion does to your brain.

      May 27, 2013 at 5:36 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      " I have no problems with atheists who makes sense, Only those who are constantly attack others because of their beliefs."

      Well that's the rub now isn't it? Unless a reply is aimed at an ad hominem attack (which many believers often resort to) most atheist comments are not directed at individuals themselves but at challenging their beliefs. Big difference there. If a person claims that they were abducted by a UFO most of us would doubt the validity of what they believe happened to them. Does that mean we hate UFO's or that we shouldn't critically evaluate their claims because it's taboo, insensitive or indicative of the claimants intelligence.? No...most of us would think they are merely mistaken about what they believe occurred to them. Yet Christians invariably take any challenge of their ideas as personal persecution.

      May 27, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Doobs

      @ Stupid

      Christians who put down nonbelievers are complete ignorant morons with no morals and values. Try to help and do your part in this world instead of just sitting in front of your computers and doing nothing.

      Well, that was easy, wasn't it?

      May 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  3. Tom Paine

    CNN – Great article. It sums up well the response of people of faith – God did not send the storm but God is in the response to it. Also, know that while there is a vocal group of non-believers who actively read your religion blog, so do many less vocal believers. Thanks for the thoughtful postings.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Funny, I thought it was the belief blog not the religion blog. As an atheist I believe there is no god(s).

      May 26, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
      • Tom Paine

        The url is: religion.blog.cnn.com but I accept that some come to express their belief as a lack of belief. I just find the vehemence and effort to be an interesting phenomenon. It would be like me hanging out on a Wiccan site to express my disbelief in Wicca, not just once, but seemingly daily. But in the end, it is what it is. My comment might be read by a hundred or two but is not going to change anything. I do hope for whatever influence it does have to encourage the editors on to keep posting good articles.

        May 26, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  4. RangerTx

    5th paragraph...."imans" in Moore Oklahoma? Daniel Burk if you are going to report the news in Oklahoma you might need to visit there just once and see how many Muslims you might find in Moore OK. Your reporting makes it seem like Christians are a minority. How funny!

    May 26, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Queen

      Think he may have put the clergy in alphabetical order? Huh? Man, some people will complain about anything. Get a grip.

      May 26, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
  5. Bostontola

    Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Give a man religion, he dies of hunger praying for a fish.

    May 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  6. Stephen

    Tanakh teaches us clearly about the Promised One: "His appearnace was so marred more than any man. And His form more than the sons of men. So He shall sprinkle many nations." ...Isaiah 52:14-15 When it comes to suffering, Yeshua/Jesus The Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world knows more about it than any of us. He atoned for sins He did NOT commit, ours. We need to receive His atonement for our sins by faith, and always remember that our God is the God of all comfort. Shalom

    May 26, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Athy

      Pure bullshit. But thanks for the laugh. And the boost for atheism!

      May 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Athy

      Who's shoveling the load now? And where are you piling it? Inquiring minds would love to know.

      May 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Athy

      I don't know, lambly lion. Suppose you enlighten us.

      May 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Vic

      Hebrews 4:14-16
      "14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

      [Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)]
      http://www.biblegateway.com

      May 26, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Athy

      More bullshit. But, again, thanks for the laugh.

      May 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Vic

      Hebrews 9:25,26

      "25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."

      [Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible (NASB)]
      http://www.biblegateway.com

      May 26, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Adom

      Shalom

      May 26, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  7. Bostontola

    People will do all the work rebuilding, their (self imagined) god may provide them with hope and motivation, but they do all the work. My hat's off to them.

    May 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • matt houston

      Be careful, lest you earn the ire of the faithful in saying that mankind could ever do anything to help themselves...

      May 26, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  8. Darwin was right

    Natural disasters cause the most difficulty for preachers, because the BIBLE claims in many verses that GOD PUNISHES his beloved creatures through earthquakes, whirlwinds, floods, etc. For example, Pat Robertson claimed that the Haitian earthquake was God's punishment for a "pact with the devil" made by Toussaint L'Ouverture, the liberator of Haiti. Of course, Robertson is a religious nut, but he represents a big audience of similar Evangelical nuttiness. However, to admit that the Oklahoma tornado was just a random natural phenomenon means admitting that God doesn't have much to do with much of what happens in the world every day, and even the liberal preachers have trouble with that!

    May 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • skytag

      Believers frequently tell themselves natural events are the result of divine agency because they're so desperate for proof.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • matt houston

      1. God is punishing them.
      2. God is using disasters to teach them some special life lesson
      3. or to test their faith
      4. God hates them.
      5. There is no God.
      6. The weather is out on God's hands.
      7. The devil caused it.
      8. Natural energy matter interaction based on previous output of the causal factor.
      9. God was aware of it but didn't care.
      10. God wasn't aware of it.

      Pick one. I'd go with number 8. But then again, I am not religious. Now before the freaks jump on that, I'm also not an atheist.

      Alas, the mental acrobatics priests use in their language to soothe human suffering is quite amazing. One could start a rebellion with such skills.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Athy

      Number 5 wins. It's the most consistent with all observations.

      May 26, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  9. One one

    "No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means."
    George Bernard Shaw

    May 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  10. Semper Cogitatus

    The right words are "Stuff Happens". (OK, maybe not "stuff", but CNN has standards to maintain).

    May 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Libsrtyrants

      CNN & standards. Good one!

      May 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Semper Cogitatus

      You said, "CNN has standards to maintain"
      They're failing at it. Shit happens.

      May 26, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  11. Vic

    In God We Trust

    May 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, maybe you do, Vic. As for me, I'll take care of myself.

      May 27, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  12. Larry L

    What's bailing people out of the mess following the storms is "big government" – F.E.M.A. rather than Jesus. The combined taxes from all the people in a great nation gives America the ability to provide disaster relief. Even the charities are tax-exempt and indirectly supported in-part by the federal government – helping them with their critical role. That government so many conservatives demonize is providing the weather warnings, the Soldiers, the generators, temporary housing, rescue personnel (and dogs), subsidized windstorm insurance, emergency medical facilities, and direct financial aid. We should be proud of these capabilities and realize the support comes from all of America.

    May 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Libsrtyrants

      Says your prejudiced God-Hating imagination. You have zero evidence to support your prejudiced imagination, but that doesn't stop you. Never does.

      Your precious FEMA is still targeting conservatives for harassment and scheduling meetings about how to get their cut of the pork fat.

      May 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Libbyranter, idiots like you hate big government until a disaster like this one occurs. Then you're the first ones in line whining for a helping hand.

      Hypocrite.

      May 26, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • skytag

      @Libsrtyrants: What a nut job, attacking people who don't believe in God for having delusions and no evidence. ROFLMAO

      May 26, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • skytag

      @Libsrtyrants: "Says your prejudiced God-Hating imagination."

      I see nothing in Larry L's comment to suggest he hates God. In fact, I'm more inclined to believe Larry L believes their is no God. If he's an atheist he no more hates "God" than he hates leprechauns or vampires. The one full of hatred here appears to be you.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • matt houston

      Good luck talking sense into GOP.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Queen

      FEMA is targeting conservatives? Really? How?
      Lmao. You don't even know what the fuck you're talking about, Libs. If FEMA truly was, none of the red states would get any aid at all...moron. Which is where the majority of tornados happen, idiot. Good God, lie about something else, wouldja?

      May 26, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  13. buffalo

    This is like the Chaplains in Viet-Nam trying to justify us going out and killing people. A total load of crap!

    May 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  14. Ricksta

    None of them have the nerve to say God's punishing us because we elected Republicans.

    May 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • straighttalk

      Scilly talk. Oklahoma is geographically speaking in a bad spot. Air masses form the gulf and the jet stream mix in that area and cause violent storms. Don't bring God into the equation because it is irrelevant. If people want to live in Oklahoma they know the danger. So, we are sorry about what happens but we do not understand why anyone in their right mind would live there?

      May 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Libsrtyrants

      Really?
      It's not that, led by people like you, we've completely rejected Him, his words, and his love for our nation?

      May 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • skytag

      @Libsrtyrants: "It's not that, led by people like you, we've completely rejected Him, his words, and his love for our nation?"

      People like you are the best evidence I know that Christianity is a fraud, attacking people who won't validate your beliefs in your myths and hating anyone who doesn't share your views. Where is your evidence this god of yours exist? It's a silly question, though, isn't it? If you had any evidence you wouldn't get so defensive an attack people with so much hatred.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  15. Reality

    "God will give us comfort and solace and hope for the future" said Kevin Clarkson, the church’s senior pastor. Hmmm, something very, very wrong with that statement as the same thing happened to these people in 1999!!!!

    The following should be posted on every church door in town to correct the situation:

    The Apostles'/Agnostics’ Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    May 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Christopher Melbo

      It's interesting how people are taking this occasion to target the person of Jesus and display their dislike of the Christian tradition. As I lived as a TRUE atheist for a majority of my young life, I remember arguing with my Mother and subconsciously gravitating toward attacking the person of Jesus when discussing the existence of God, as the people in these responses are doing as well. I had no tradition of Christianity ingrained in my mind as a youth, so it's interesting how there's no explanation as to why I attacked Jesus, as opposed to other religion's revered figures and theological claims. If any thing, I was exposed to more of the Muslim and Hindu traditions. There's plenty of room to oppose those religions.

      As I have been converted to Christianity by the power of God six years ago, I can testify that the bibles claims are true. The reason I attacked the figure of Jesus as a non-believer was because, as the New Testament portion of the bible reveals, the spirit of anti-Christ is already working in the world. As I was dead in my trespasses and sins, I was by nature a hater of the One True and Holy God. Jesus himself said, "blessed are those who do not take offense at me." Which is naturally for man a hard thing to do because He made some very offensive and exclusive claims about himself.

      I guess the point I'm making is that people don't realize that their expressions of opposition towards Jesus are often only validating what the bible actually say's about itself and the character of Jesus. It was true in my life, but by God's mercy He caused this wretched sinner to yield unto His grace and love, as truth is only found in Jesus.

      May 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      As I have been converted to Christianity by the power of God six years ago, I can testify that the bibles claims are true.

      You haven't read the Bible. If you had you wouldn't be defending it. It's a complete literary trainwreck of immorality.

      May 26, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • skytag

      @Christopher Melbo: What's your evidence that a supernatural power played a role in you deciding to believe in God?

      May 26, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      @Christopher

      As I lived as a TRUE atheist for a majority of my young life,

      What does that mean? How do you differentiate between a true atheist and a pretend one?

      I remember arguing with my Mother and subconsciously gravitating toward attacking the person of Jesus when discussing the existence of God,

      If you were a TRUE atheist, why would you bother attacking "the person of Jesus"? Why attack something that you don't think exists?

      I had no tradition of Christianity ingrained in my mind as a youth, so it's interesting how there's no explanation as to why I attacked Jesus, as opposed to other religion's revered figures and theological claims.

      How is it you had no tradition of Christianity, yet had these discussions with your mother about Christianity, Jesus and the existence of God?

      As I have been converted to Christianity by the power of God six years ago, I can testify that the bibles claims are true.

      As someone who was Christian for 10+ years, who studied the bible in great detail, I can attest that the reason I am no longer a Christian is due to the bible and the god it describes.

      I guess the point I'm making is that people don't realize that their expressions of opposition towards Jesus are often only validating what the bible actually say's about itself and the character of Jesus.

      It is very convenient for a religion to claim that any who attack it are fools and anti-Christ's and what have you.

      It was true in my life, but by God's mercy He caused this wretched sinner to yield unto His grace and love, as truth is only found in Jesus.

      I am very sorry that you let a bunch of holier-than-thou folks convince you that your are anything less than an amazing and wonderful human being. I do hope one day you discover what unconditional love feels like.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • skytag

      @Christopher Melbo: "I guess the point I'm making is that people don't realize that their expressions of opposition towards Jesus are often only validating what the bible actually say's about itself and the character of Jesus."

      Religions often claim natural phenomena are proof that what they teach is correct. If I went around claiming leprechauns are real and trying to recruit people to help me look for their gold I'd be ridiculed relentlessly, and rightly so. It wouldn't be proof I was right.

      You have to be pretty dumb to believe that opposition to Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus is evidence they are real or true. Joseph Smith and the Mormons were even more persecuted than anything you've ever experienced. By you logic that means what the Mormons teach is true. Are you a Mormon? Jews have been persecuted for centuries. Is that proof that Judaism is correct? There is a great deal of animosity toward Islam, Muslims, and Mohammad in this country. Is that evidence Muslims have the true religion?

      Here's what's happened. Religionists know they stuff they teach sounds outlandish and that there is no evidence for any of it. Anyone with a brain knows that if you go around making outlandish claims there are going to be people who laugh at you. If you try to get laws passed controlling what other people can and can't do based on your religious beliefs you're going to face a lot of opposition. The authors of the writings in the Bible knew this, so they warned their readers to expect ridicule and opposition and even told themselves to see it as proof they were right.

      This is an example of why I say religion makes people stupid. Desperate to find some shred of evidence or logic that makes their beliefs about God seem rational they put forth some of the dumbest arguments I've ever heard.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Reality

      Some added details:

      Only for the those interested in a religious update:
      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
      prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      earlychristianwritings.com/

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, the Filipino “koranics”and the Boston Marthon bombers.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      May 26, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
  16. skytag

    Part of the plan involves strategies designed to keep their followers from questioning their beliefs about God. Make them feel more dependent on God, rationalize "why God let this happen," and so on. There is no evidence their God exists, or that even if he does that he had any impact on this event, punished anyone with it, protected anyone from it, will help with the clean up or do anything to help anyone heal.

    Everything, from being prepared to be safe when a tornado strikes, to cleaning up after one strikes and the emotional healing process is 100% on the people involved.

    May 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  17. Brenda

    Church should have their ass. That why they were more deserving of aid than NY and NJ right? That is what Inhoff and Coburn said, so let their god clean up his mess.

    May 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Libsrtyrants

      Thank you for perfectly demonstrating the reason liberalism can only destroy a country and can never help a country.

      Your thought virus, known as liberalism, has you convinced that you're justified in spending other people's money to help your political family. Even worse, you think you're justified in withholding other people's tax money from your perceived political enemies.

      Do you work for the IRS?

      May 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • skytag

      @Libsrtyrants: You have been brainwashed to hate liberals. All of your comments here have been mean-spirited, not at all in keeping with the teachings I've ever heard from any religion. Apparently all you know how to do is bash liberals and liberalism with ridiculous claims about them. You really sound nuts, and reflect badly on decent, mentally healthy Christians.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  18. One one

    When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
    Desmond Tutu

    May 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      They broght their diseases with them too, spreading that with their bible, killing in their mission of "love".

      May 26, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Libsrtyrants

      Desmond Tutu is an evil guy. He's similar to Jimmy Carter, as a barometer of honor. If Desmond Tutu or Jimmy Carter are against it, chances are, it's the honorable position.

      This quote is no different.

      May 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  19. jonp

    All of the abrahamic religions are collectively, the bane of humanity.

    May 26, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • .

      there are two legitimate religions dating to Abraham and one colossal fraud

      May 26, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • One one

      @dot, tell that to 1.5 billion people who believe their religion just as firmly as you believe yours. It should be obvious they are all frauds.

      May 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      dot
      All religions are collosal frauds. the bible is so ridiculously false, it's a wonder anyone buys its BS.

      May 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • .

      one you're full of sh it

      May 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • .

      dick head you've long been proven a useless ass hole run along little fella

      May 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • snopes says

      . ("dot") is false

      May 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • The real Tom

      dottie, do you know what it means to call someone "dotty"? You certainly do qualify.

      Go soak your empty skull, captain azzwipe.

      May 26, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • .

      how long have you been an irrelevant ass hole tom

      May 26, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • as always

      snopes is wrong

      May 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  20. Over 40,000 sects of insanity

    Recently we learned from a CNN Belief Blog article of a child dying when their parents, members of a Christian sect in Philadelphia, as part of their faith, refused medical care. When incidents like this come to light, other Christians are only too ready to try explain how another Christian's interpretation of ancient "scripture" is not quite right. Hands down, the most conflicted, hypocritical people on the planet.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one (over 4,000,000 members) in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    Some believe that celibacy is the only option for certain people, or for people in certain positions. Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but pretend not to understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease.

    In the U.S. recently we learned of the head of Lutheran CMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create more extreme divisions as time goes by, constantly subjecting others in its crossfire.

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

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

    May 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Over 40,000 sects of insanity

      Bill Moyers recently interviewed Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, science & biology. He is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Watch the video at:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUeQXmYVamA

      Dennett says that not for all, but for many, the dangerous thing about religion is that "it gives people a gold-plated excuse to stop thinking."

      May 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Science

      The legal end from Bing!

      Search
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      CNN logo CNN 3 weeks ago
      When Christians become a 'hated minority.............

      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      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... Full Article at CNN

      http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/0bj7cdy2zIcqA?q=law+OR+lawsuit+OR+legal+OR+%28court+AND+law%29

      Faith-Healing Churches Linked to 2 Dozen Child Deaths

      by Vince Lattanzio posted on May 25, 2013 02:45PM GMT

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/25/faith-healing-churches-linked-to-2-dozen-child-deaths#

      Have a great life.

      Peace

      May 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • One one

      And let's not forget the snake handlers / poison drinkers. Recently, one of them died from a snake bite. His father had died the same way.

      May 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • skytag

      Christianity is a religion tailor-made for church shoppers, people who want a religion that tells them what they want to hear. There are so many variations that almost anyone can find one that that suits him.

      May 26, 2013 at 4:16 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.