Church without God - by design
Members of an atheist congregation at Harvard listen to music during a recent gathering.
June 22nd, 2013
11:25 AM ET

Church without God - by design

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Boston (CNN)-– It’s Sunday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a rapt congregation listens to a chaplain preach about the importance of building a community.

A few dozen people sit quietly for the hourlong service. Music is played, announcements are made and scholars wax poetic about the importance of compassion and community.

Outsiders could be forgiven for believing this service, with its homilies, its passing of the plate, its uplifting songs, belongs in a church.

If so, it’s a church without one big player: God.

Sunday’s congregation in Cambridge is a meeting of the Humanist Community at Harvard University and the brainchild of Greg Epstein, the school’s Humanist chaplain.

A longtime advocate for community building, Epstein and his group of atheists have begun to build their Cambridge community and solemnize its Sunday meetings to resemble a traditional religious service.

To Epstein, religion is not all bad, and there is no reason to reject its helpful aspects.

“My point to my fellow atheists is, why do we need to paint things with such a broad brush? We can learn from the positive while learning how to get rid of the negative," he said.

Godless congregations

For Epstein, who started community-building at Harvard nearly 10 years ago, the idea of a godless congregation is not an oxymoron.

“We decided recently that we want to use the word congregation more and more often because that is a word that strongly evokes a certain kind of community - a really close knit, strong community that can make strong change happen in the world,” he said.

“It doesn’t require and it doesn't even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.”

Epstein is not alone in his endeavor. Jerry DeWitt, who became an atheist and left his job as an evangelical minister, is using his pastoral experience to building an atheist church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This Sunday, DeWitt's congregation will hold its first meeting as a "Community Mission Chapel."

"When you become a part of this congregation, this community, you are going to become part of a family," DeWitt told CNN. "There is an infrastructure there for you to land in. There is going to be someone there to do weddings and to do, unfortunately, the funerals."

READ MORE: Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

Sunday school for atheists

As members of the Cambridge congregation file into a wood-paneled classroom at Harvard, singer Shelley Segal greets them with a few songs from her latest recording, called simply, “An Atheist Album.”

Taking a hint from the theme of the event, Segal strums on her guitar and belts her song, “Gratitude.”

“I don't believe in a great power to say thank you to,” Segal sings. “But that won’t take away from my gratitude.”

Harvard's humanist chaplain Greg Epstein leads an atheist gathering.

After the music, Epstein offers a few words of greeting before the meeting gets to its heart: a discussion about compassion.

A four academics and a journalist discuss the effects of religion on raising children and their ideas about compassion. Congregants listen intently, some even taking notes.

Each service has a message – compassion, evolution or acceptance - after which congregants engage in a lengthy discussion.

Before the main event, kids are invited to what some parents refer to as “Sunday school,” where Tony Debono, a biologist Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teaches the youngsters about evolution, DNA and cells.

There's little talk about organized religion, positive or negative.

Likewise, down in Louisiana, said his atheist services will not be anti-religion.

"What we are looking at doing is different," DeWitt said. "If you are a religionist and you come and sit in our pew, the only way you can leave offended is because of what you don’t hear and what you don’t see. We won’t be there to make a stance against religion or against God."

Coming out of the closet

In the last few years, the number of “nones” – those who don’t associate with any organized religion – has grown at a rate faster than any other group. Nones now represent one in five Americans, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll.

Although the number of atheists has grown, too, there are still a large number of “nones” that choose not to associate with the label “atheist.”

Some at Harvard’s Humanist congregation fall into this category.

“I don’t particularly have a religion,” said Anil Nyer, a neurologist who brought his daughter to Humanist Sunday school. But Nyer also said he didn’t want to label himself as an atheist.

One reason to shy away from the atheist label: Many Americans hold a negative impression of nonbelievers.

According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute poll, nearly 40 percent of Americans believe that atheists are changing American culture for the worse.

“Whenever we put atheists on a list like this and we compare them to other groups, atheists tend to come in towards the bottom of that list,” said Robert P. Jones is the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.

“Americans tend to hold a lot of reservations about atheists.”

Epstein hopes his congregation can change that.

By formalizing meetings and building a strong community, the Harvard group hopes it can be a model for other atheist congregations forming around the country.

A group meets during an atheist gathering in Boston.

More atheists may come of the closet if they know a congregation will be there to support them, Epstein said,

“Being an atheist is something we want people to come out and be,” said the Humanist chaplain. “There are so many people, probably millions, who are humanists or atheists or nonreligious in private and nobody knows."

Epstein said he gets e-mails daily from people founding atheist meet-up groups.

“Tulsa, Oklahoma; North Carolina; London; Vancouver, Canada; Houston, Texas,” Epstein said, listing the sources of the most recent e-mails.

“One part of what we are saying is come on out and let your neighbors know” about your disbelief, he said. “It is not going to make you worse of a person, it is going to make you a better person to be more open about who you are.”

Rituals for the irreligious

For the last few years, the Humanist Community at Harvard has operated out of a small three-floor walk-up off the bustling streets of Harvard Square. The walls are littered with posters about atheism – tributes to famed atheists Eddie Izzard, Seth MacFarlane and Stephen Fry.

Because of the scattered furniture and the Harvard dorm feel, Epstein jokingly describes the space as “college broke chic.” That’s being generous – but it's also about to change.

Starting in the fall, the Humanist Community at Harvard will begin meeting in a nearly 3,000-square-foot community center with an event space for nearly 100 people.

Although the plan is to use the space at the group’s headquarters, it will also serve as a broader community center for the group that Epstein and others are trying to build in the Boston area.

“What we really would like to see is a community center where people can come by at anytime and to use it as a space to study or have a meeting for various committee,” said Chris Stedman, the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard.

Stedman said he sees the new building as a place for people to gather, not only to become part of a humanist community, but to also become more engaged with the world.

When he talks about his plans for the future, Epstein appears to long for a time when the new community center could mimic aspects of church - a place for baby-naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals.

The success of an atheist church will depend on walking the thin line between too much and too little ritual, Epstein said.

Humanists boast a proud freethinking streak, and some at the Harvard event said they don’t want to be associated with any sort of dogma or belief system - or even a system based on disbelief.

Anyway, Esptein said his congregation will be less a group of people united by beliefs - or disbelief - and more like an opera, or a painting.

“Our community is like a work of art," he said. "Hopefully people will respond to that work of art and it will garner controversy and discussion like a work of art."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Houses of worship • United States

soundoff (6,897 Responses)
  1. myweightinwords

    Funny you say that, considering that Satanism is largely Humanism, just dressed up for shock value.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  2. Len

    Why would anyone worship Satan? He's so dumb that he can't even clue in that all he has to do is read Revelation and come up with another plan. Some Master of Evil he is. More like Dr. Evil, eh?

    June 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    open challenge to any christian:

    show how christian morals are superior to humanist ethics. please be specific and leave out the "you don't worship god so you're going to hell" arguments. for instance, the bible says to kill all g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone working the weekend - humanist ethics give no commands to kill anyone. seems humanist ethics are superior - can you prove otherwise?

    humanist ethics > biblical morals

    June 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      You gonna have to take this up with God Himself. No true Christian will ever claim that he is righteous on his own. You seem to imply that you and your humanist friends are. And as usual, you and your ilk always brings up the same OT laws, rules and regulations that you find appalling. But you have no clue of background and purposes of those laws. Yet, you always ignore and try to bypass Jesus Christ and His testimony. Is it because you KNOW that He exposes what is in YOUR OWN heart.
      The truth is, you and I and every person ever born on the face of this earth, can never stand before God in our own righteousness. We don't have any. So, when you do good, it is only by the grace of God that you do it, and it is HIS Righteousness that you are claiming for yourself, like a thief who stole something and then claims it's his own. That's makes you an offender and criminal in the eyes of God.
      So you can rave and steam in fury at this statement till you blow your top, but it won't change a thing.
      You are not your own, you have been GIVEN the life you have, you OWE it to your Maker, and it is on His terms how you will end.
      And what you do with only hope you have, His Son Jesus Christ, on it hangs your destiny and your eternity.
      So, it is not what you think, friend.
      You and your ilk keep harping that we who know the Lord are dumb sheep and blind followers. But you yourself listen to lame teachers, and don't even know WHOM are you following,
      nd then one day, your waking will be worse than a horrific nightmare, friend... Then you will see yourself in the light God sees you, and how much you needed Christ and His righteousness, not having none of your own.
      Sure, you will scoff at these words here now, but nothing will change the truth of them, and they will be proven to be right.... You'll see....

      June 24, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Well Bootyfunk, I gotta give you props for trying.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Prissy, more proxy threats are useless. If that is all you have, then you might as well leave.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "You seem to imply that you and your humanist friends are."
      nope. not at all. you're putting words in my mouth. i'm not implying anything. i'm SAYING there are no humanist commands to kill - unlike in the bible. don't read into it - take what i'm saying at face value. you and other religious zealots are the only ones that think they are righteous. righteous just means you think you are acting in accordance to your particular invisible sky fairy. it means you can circ.umvent logic and compassion in the name of your god. no, i don't think i'm righteous, nor would i describe any humanist as righteous. again, don't try to make the argument into something else. the bible gives commands to kill - doesn't that make biblical morals questionable? or will you fall back on "if god says to murder someone, then it's a good thing"?

      and you're wrong about the OT. the NT adds to the OT and only replaces it where it specifically gives a conflicting command. jesus himself says you cannot drop a single letter from the OT. i know some of the OT brutality is embarrassing and makes it difficult to explain from a supposedly all-loving god, but the OT is in your bible too. you follow the 10 commandments? that's OT. you can't just pick and choose the parts you want to own - you own it all, OT and NT. read your bible closer and you will see that you must follow the OT AND NT.

      "Sure, you will scoff at these words here now, but nothing will change the truth of them, and they will be proven to be right.... You'll see...."
      lol. so has a thousand people before you preached doom and gloom. and you know what you all have in common so far? NONE of you have been right. haha. seriously, the christian scare tactics of "join us or be tortured for eternity!" it's just old and tired. put it to bed. try to recruit on merits instead of pitching guilt, fear and ignorance - the pillars of christianity.

      and i don't think christians are dumb. there's a lot of brilliant christians. just goes to show intelligence doesn't make one immune to brainwashing.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Commenter


      Well now, that's a mighty hideous god that you've conjured up for yourself there. Ugh. Why you'd want to spend eternity with a monster like that is astonishing.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Observer

      PRISM 1234,

      As usual, Christians like to PRETEND it was a different God in each testament.

      It's the same "unchanging" God who commanded a long list of reasons to kill people for being unruly children, etc. but it's much more fun to PRETEND it isn't.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      OK! you stated your case and I mine. But the verdict is yet to come.

      Have a good one!

      June 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      exactly, observer.

      the OT is obviously older than the NT. it shows that as time goes by, morals/ethics have gotten better. in cave man days, murder was probably fairly common. as time went on and groups and villages grew, common sense rules were laid out - no killing, stealing, etc. as time has gone by, ethics have gotten better. for instance, the bible openly promotes slavery. jesus himself says to beat disobedient slaves "with many stripes." but today, zero countries in the world have legal slavery. though slavery still exists, it is not a legal enterprise any longer as it once was everywhere on earth. it leads to my conclusion that modern ethics are much improved over biblical morals.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Bootyfunk


      i stated my case, that humanist ethics are superior to biblical morals and gave examples why (no commands to kill from humanists).

      then you tried and failed to refute my claim by claiming you are not bound by the OT. you also tried to divert the argument by claiming humanist think they are righteous and then started babbling christian threats of gloom and doom if i don't step in line with the great tyrant in the sky.

      then i pointed out that you are indeed bound by the OT AND the NT - as confirmed by jesus himself. which takes away your little excuse for cherry picking which parts of the bible you want to follow.

      then you came back and said, "well i've said my piece and you said yours." yes, but i pointed out how you were wrong, which invalidates your point. you have yet to offer a rebuttal.

      again, my claim is that humanist values are far superior to christian morals. for instance, the bible promotes slavery - humanists are against slavery. doesn't that make biblical morals outdated?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  4. Len


    I'm an AMERICAN!

    I have no King!

    June 24, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  5. Bootyfunk

    the ironic thing is, atheist or christian, there's no god at church or anywhere else.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      True that!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
  6. lol??

    It's just a group of A&A's on R&R. They'll be back with their attacks against the bride.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  7. Jamie

    Jesus Christ died for all of mankind's sins, past, present and future. Nevertheless, reading some of the responses here is not surprising. Psalm 14:1 immediately comes to mind:

    "The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good." Psalm 14:1

    However, there is hope for the atheists and agnostics as God does NOT want anyone to perish. He is certainly willing to forgive:

    "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longs suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" II Peter 3:9

    Also keep in mind, believe it or not, that all will bow before God come judgment day:

    For it is written:
    “As I live, says the Lord,
    Every knee shall bow to Me,
    And every tongue shall confess to God.”

    Romans 14:11

    Go ahead and make fun and fire insults my way, but I am not ashamed of my faith in the Lord and His word. I pray for all the unbelievers on here.

    " For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Romans 1:16

    June 24, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Stop while you're behind.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Cthulhu


      June 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Jesus died because he was executed by a mob. It's a pretty story that he "died for our sins" but that's no more believable than it is coherent.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if jesus died for anyone's sins, it was his own.

      on a side note, could jesus be g.ayer?
      tan, long hair, six pack abs, never got with a lady, hung out with 12 dudes...

      June 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt...

      The Bible, written with the intent of persuading people that a god exists, claims that those who don't believe are fools. I don't believe the Bible, or the men who wrote the Bible, therefore I have no confidence in their ability to assess my intelligence.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • skytag

      What evidence that anything you believe is true?

      As for praying for me, it's your time to waste. There is no evidence any prayer ever uttered has been answered by any supernatural being.

      As for you not being ashamed of your beliefs, what do you think that proves? Do Muslims or Jews or Hindus or followers of Shinto or even Satan worshipers seem ashamed of their beliefs? Were the Nazis ashamed of their beliefs? Lack of shame proves nothing.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      "However, there is hope for the atheists and agnostics as God does NOT want anyone to perish. He is certainly willing to forgive."

      Now, for a limited time - amnesty! You still have a chance to sign off a percentage of your income, in order to enrich the Christian Church. Don't delay!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Of course, the very concept that a) A loving god would condemn his creation for being what he created; b) that an all powerful god would demand worship and blood sacrifice to redeem his creation from being exactly what he created them to be; and c) that we are expected to accept a reportedly (though unproven) brutal and horrific death of this same god in human form as payment for this supposed evil nature that we were created with is a disgusting and immoral belief right from the get-go.

      If I have committed anything worthy of eternal damnation, then the god who punishes me to that torment is not a god I would choose to spend eternity with anyway.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      "Also keep in mind, believe it or not, that all will bow before God come judgment day:", followed by a quote from Romans.

      Romans? Really? So I'm supposed to take the word of some two-bit first century televangelist, as though he knows everything about every plane of reality, and how it all works?

      Paul knew how to gather a crowd, and collect cash, and that's all he was good for. Is he supposed to be my role model?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • Bob

      Jamie, why did your purportedly omnipotent sky fairy need to sacrifice anything to "save" us? Why not just do that job without all the silly Jesus hoopla?

      And for that matter, how could Jesus' death be a sacrifice when a truly omnipotent creature could just create a new Jesus with less than a snap of its fingers, or just roll back time?

      Ah, you've got one of those less-capable, imperfect gods. Better make yourself a better one next time.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Len

      When you're talking about "sins" you're not talking about things like murder, theft, and lying that all religions and moral codes identify as wrong, are you? "Sins" here are personal offences against God, like not believing in him, or following one of his arbitrary rules like no eating shellfish, or sleeping with someone of the same gender, right?

      So, Jesus, who actually IS God by your understanding, chose to become mortal for a while so that he could sacrifice himself ... to himself to forgive infractions against his own ego?

      And this makes sense to you?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • skytag

      "However, there is hope for the atheists and agnostics as God does NOT want anyone to perish."

      I'm still waiting for one of you folks to give me any reason to believe any of this nonsense you've obviously been trained to regurgitate so well. Where is your evidence for any of it?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  8. Secular Humanist from Ohio

    Satanism, another bad belief system.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  9. Cthulhu

    Why worship God or Satan when you can Worship Great Cthulhu. Because with him, you know where you're going.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Wasn't Cthulhu some sort of squid? Does communion involve calamari?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Cthulhu

      Cthulhu is one of the Great Old Ones, who seeped down from the stars after the earth was created. He now sleeps in his house in R'lyeh. When the stars are right (and they will be very soon) Great Cthulhu will rise up out of the depths and cleanse the earth of the disease that is man. It's going to be one heck of a party.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I've heard that matter is a bit of pollution on the universe.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I've heard that matter is a bit of pollution in the universe.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      all hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

      the great FSM has touched me with his noodlely appendage.


      June 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  10. myweightinwords

    Clearly written by someone who has no idea what Satansim actually is.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Well, don't just strike out God and Jesus in a Christian liturgy and replace them with Satan if you to get Sata worship going. People are completely burnt out on that.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  12. Secular Humanist from Ohio


    Religion does not get a free pass.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  13. aallen333

    Even the most ungodly know there are certain lines you should not cross. But there are some who have not the ability to know when to muzzle their mouths and would even dare spout curses before a King. Such people seal their judgement and forfeit any recourse because they have spit upon the only one who could grant forgiveness.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  14. Secular Humanist from Ohio

    Can't argue with that. The entire solipsism and masochism is revolting.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  15. lol??

    Would it offend you too much if I asked you to stop with the graffiti in the rest rooms?? I know you have a delicate sense of self so don't take the request too harshly.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  16. Marc

    This article is about Humanist Community. Could believers not make too much noise, please?

    June 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Wouldn't that be wonderful!

      June 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      To be fair, it's not like every atheist on this blog do not flock to religious articles to give their two cents.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Does not.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  17. lol??

    Nah, creatures are too low on the chain of command.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  18. I'm sorr Dave, I can't let you do that

    Self-congratulatory circle-jerk.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Wrong spelling in moniker.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  19. Salero21

    😀 😀 😀 If anybody needed any more evidence about how stupid atheism is, this should do it. 😀

    June 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Bad troll.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Who pays the hospital bill for those 10 dollar boxes of tissue for ye ol' snozz?? The "other guy"??

      June 24, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • skytag

      Your comment only shows how religion makes people stupid. Humans like to bond together in groups of like-minded people. They form clubs, teams, nations, religions, political parties and so on. The good that comes from religion is a product of this social bonding, not the actions of any god or spirit.

      Humans also like ritual. We see it in religions, but also in the military, secret societies, clubs, and other groups and gatherings of people.

      These people are taking part in a bonding experience without having to make up imaginary beings to have an excuse for them. Why is that stupid?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      What makes a group of people who don't believe in god/s like-minded?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      :grin :grin :grin If anybody needed any more evidence about how stupid Salero21 is, this should do it. :grin

      June 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Salero21 is a troll. Take him seriously at your own peril.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Len

      I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that
      They're "like-minded" because they're all skeptical of baseless claims, and all value reason and logic. Clubs and get-togethers are limited to lovers of fantasy like comic book fanboys and the religious, you know?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • Salero21

      🙂 🙂 :). I know I'm an asshole, I'm a troll! 🙂

      June 24, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • tallulah13

      boring, obvious troll is boring and obvious.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  20. aallen333

    Is it not the Spirit of God who has led men and women of God to create the church structure and community that has brought comfort to millions over the centuries. Whether they recognize it or not they are demonstrating their attraction to the God they pretend to hate by imitating the body He has created.

    June 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I know the lord exists! I can feel his spirit in my heart! There is no where else this could come from. It is present in everyone. Open your heart and you shall receive. Ask and it shall be answered.

      Moving on to reality...........

      June 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Terry

      So any gathering at all falls under the God umbrella? I disagree. But if it makes you sleep better at night thinking that, have at it.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • skytag

      "Is it not the Spirit of God who has led men and women of God to create the church structure and community that has brought comfort to millions over the centuries."

      No. It's the natural instinct to bond into groups based on common interests. It's an instinct favored by evolution because people are more successful in groups than they are functioning alone as individuals. That's why humans form clubs, teams, nations, as well as religions and other groups.

      "Whether they recognize it or not they are demonstrating their attraction to the God they pretend to hate by imitating the body He has created."

      More evidence religion makes people stupid. Atheists don't hate God, you nitwit. I would no more hate God than I would hate vampires or leprechauns or anything else that doesn't exist. What they are demonstrating is there is value in like-minded people bonding with others who share their values.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • skytag

      The Nazis held meetings and rallies too. Were they doing the God thing too?

      June 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • lol??

      Hitleer did have a special way of dealin' with any opposition.

      June 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Peter

      Comfort to millions, and terror to millions of others. Across this land bigotry and hatred is being preached from many thousands of pulpits every Sunday. Not all of them, but still a lot, and rare indeed is the pulpit where nobody is said to deserve hell for breaking some religious taboo.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • tallulah13

      aallen333, that was profoundly lame. Humans are social animals and many enjoy being in groups with like-minded people. That's why there are fan clubs and chess clubs and science clubs and radio-controlled aircraft clubs and gaming groups and pretty much any human organization.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Doobs

      On certain days of the year, I gather with friends and family. There's a big meal, lots of conversation, laughter and good feelings. At the end we have a little ritual. We bring out a cake that has candles in it, light the candles and sing a song.

      All this time I thought we were just celebrating a birthday, but now I find out I'm actually a Christian and we are all in church!

      Bullshit. Why do Christians think they own everything, even the concept of people with common interests getting together?

      June 25, 2013 at 10:37 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.