Mourn on the Fourth of July: Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement
Mark Van Steenwyk leads his Mennonite Worker Community in Minneapolis.
July 5th, 2013
05:40 PM ET

Mourn on the Fourth of July: Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement

By David R. Wheeler, special to CNN

(CNN) - Like many congregations, The Mennonite Worker Community of Minneapolis held a worship service and picnic this Fourth of July - but instead of extolling the virtues of America, they called attention to its faults.

The annual service is “a sort of anti-patriotic holiday,” says Mark Van Steenwyk, whose community focuses on simplicity, prayer and peacemaking. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is out. Reflecting on the contradictions between the gospel and the American Dream are in.

“We thank you, O God, for the good things we enjoy in our lives," reads a prayer the Mennonite community recites each year, "but lament that our abundance has brought destitution to sisters and brothers throughout the Earth.”

Anti-patriots like Van Steenwyk say their movement, which has grown more vocal in recent years, is simply an honest way to read – and live out – Jesus' teachings on nonviolence. But it's hard to look at groups like The Mennonite Community and not see an implicit criticism of God-and-country cheerleading by mainstream Christians and ripples of centuries-old church-state tensions.

Some anti-patriots come from pacifist Anabaptist traditions, such as the Mennonite Church. Others come from evangelical backgrounds but have rejected their counterparts' often unreserved patriotism and embraced liberal-leaning communities like Red Letter Christians and JesusRadicals.com.

They may differ on theological details, but they hold at least one belief in common: You cannot serve both God and country.

A Suspicion of the State

Anabaptists such as Mennonites and the Amish were persecuted by state churches in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, and their descendants bear a lasting suspicion of human authorities.

Many an Amish and Mennonite home keeps a copy of "The Martyr's Mirror," a book thick with testimonies of Anabaptists burned at the stake of orthodoxy. The book's subtitle refers to the martys as "defenseless Christians," a nod to Anabaptists' belief that when Jesus called on Christians to turn the other cheek, he was quite serious.

For that reason, Anabaptists historically do not participate in warfare — or celebrate military victories.

American Anabaptists have been fined or jailed for their pacifist beliefs during wartime. Four Hutterites died from harsh treatment while imprisoned as conscientious objectors during World War I, Bach says. Anabaptists didn’t receive official permission to perform alternative service until World War II.

READ MORE: Bolivia’s isolated Mennonite community

“Some members of Anabaptist groups today are more acculturated and celebrate patriotic holidays just like the rest of the nation,” says Jeff Bach, director of Elizabethtown College's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. “None of the Anabaptist groups are anti-American. They are typically grateful for the religious freedom permitted in the United States.”

Still, in 2011, Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana, banned the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events because, according to the college’s president, the lyrics were too violent.

Serving `the King' 

It may be difficult for some Americans to understand why their countrymen would disassociate themselves from patriotism. What’s the harm in celebrating Independence Day, anyway?

But nonpatriotic Christians believe the burden of proof should fall on the other side: Why should peace-loving believers celebrate a bloody revolution? And American history after 1776 isn’t exactly pacifistic either, Van Steenwyk says.

“It is easy to judge Islam for the actions of a relative few militants. Yet when millions of Americans — a vast majority of them claiming the Christian faith — were complicit with slavery, indigenous genocide, and continued economic exploitation, we suddenly see them as separate from our faith,” says Van Steenwyk.

Jesus called his followers to Christian service and humility, which are the opposite of nationalistic rituals performed on the Fourth of July, says David Swartz, author of “Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism.”

“A heightened devotion to the nation can cause a lot of confusion abroad when people see claims of a Christian America alongside a long American history of slavery, economic inequality and overheated Hollywood sexuality and violence,” says Swartz.

Kurt Willems, who runs the progressive Christian blog Pangea, has also joined the rising nonpatriotic chorus. The Anabaptist from Seattle writes an annual post explaining why he no longer celebrates Independence Day.

“Each year I receive comments about how I should leave this country if I ‘hate’ it so much,” he says. “I love Americans, but I’m not willing to compromise my values as a servant of my only King, the nonviolent revolutionary — Jesus.”

Making Toby Keith Proud

Many Christians trace the latest wave of evangelical interest in pacifism to author and activist Shane Claiborne, who worked with Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta, ministered to Iraqis during the war in Iraq and now leads a Philadelphia community called The Simple Way.

“My philosophy on patriotic things would be: A love for the people of our country is not a bad thing, but why should love stop at the border?” says Claiborne.

There have been some nonpatriotic gatherings in major cities, such as the Los Angeles Catholic Worker’s “Mourn on the Fourth of July” peace march in 2008.

Still the nonpatriot movement remains small, and finding local communities can be challenging, Van Steenwyk says.

“Everyone knows that other folks think like them, but it isn’t like there are a lot of congregations that self-identify as being nonpatriotic.”

That’s especially true for evangelicals, who lead the country in patriotic fervor.

More than 80% of white evangelicals believe that God has granted the United States a "special role" in history, according to a survey released June 27 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

In a stat that would make Toby Keith proud, more than two-thirds of white evangelicals say they are "very proud" to be an American, outstripping every other religious group polled.

So it's not surprising that some conservative Christians find the nonpatriotic alliance of progressive evangelicals and Anabaptists troubling — even dangerous.

“All Christians everywhere are called to love and serve their nations,” says Mark Tooley, a president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy and a United Methodist.

READ MORE: Celebrating the Fourth of July

“The stance of some evangelical elites influenced by neo-Anabaptist beliefs is often one of ingratitude, and whining, while ignoring the teaching of the universal Church, which has always recognized the God-ordained vocation of the state, and the Christian’s calling to serve as responsible citizens,” he says.

Tooley also disagrees with the nonpatriotic Christians on about military force, which he says is required to maintain order worldwide. Nonpatriot Christians are naïve not to consider the ill effects should the United States abdicate military power, he says

“What would the alternatives be if the USA didn’t exist or withdrew from the world stage? Almost certainly a more dangerous, more anarchic, more repressive, less prosperous world with less opportunity for the poor to escape poverty,” Tooley argues.

No Middle Ground? 

Some patriotic pastors argue for a middle way: honoring America without succumbing to chauvinism or ignoring the country's wrongs.

“Do I agree with every major policy of our government? No way,” says Kyle Vanover, pastor of Cyrus Chapel United Methodist Church in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. “But I’m proud to be an American, and I believe God has truly blessed this land.”

Van Steenwyk, however, says there is no middle ground.

Jesus’ identification with the poor, love of enemies, and refusal to take power are incompatible with the “entire political and economic system” of the United States, he says.

“Let’s face it — the Sermon on the Mount makes for lousy foreign or public policy. We can’t have it both ways.”

David R. Wheeler is a journalism professor and freelance writer living in Lexington, Kentucky. You can follow him on Twitter at: @David_R_Wheeler

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Amish • Belief • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Faith • Foreign policy • Mennonite • Military • Politics

soundoff (1,599 Responses)
  1. Robert

    I've heard that Muhammed was involved in 20+ battles during his lifetime. I may be mistaken but I believe this article points out that Jesus declared to turn the other cheek. Equating the two religions is ridiculous and shows a huge ignorance of both religions.
    I think that to do this on a date that celebrates people standing up for freedom is a silly cry for attention. But that's just my two cents.

    July 7, 2013 at 12:18 am |
    • MikeF

      Yet, the Rapture-Ready fantasize about Jesus returning, sword in hand, to personally lead the slaughter of something like 2/3 of the planet's population. Nothing meek and mild about Revelation Jesus, although the horse is a bit stupid.

      July 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  2. Reality

    Putting the kibosh on all religions including that of the Mennonites in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    July 6, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • Robert

      Congratulations. I'm glad that your knowledge on all these religions extends as far as the closest google search. I find your argument against buddhism especially deep and thought provoking. do you even Buddha? lol

      July 7, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • Reality

      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. “
      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.


      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!!!!!

      Also recommendations for added study:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      July 7, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • counter

      This guy, also known as CCNL on the Washington Post site, posts the same nonsense over and over ad infinitum . He believes the Jesus Seminar and their false beliefs about the saints and about Christ. A lost soul trying to lead others away from God.

      July 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  3. AE

    "To criticize America is not a sin, but it is a sin to mistake America for God, and it is both sin and dereliction of duty to fail to note the difference."

    Peter Gomes

    July 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  4. Gene Dutzy Jr.

    Fact check:

    From the CNN article:
    Van Steenwyk, however, says there is no middle ground. Jesus’ identification with the poor, love of enemies, and refusal to take power are incompatible with the “entire political and economic system” of the United States, he says.

    Fact, from Jesus's own words:

    And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
    Matthew 28:18

    July 6, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • MomentofClarity

      "The whole world is under control of the evil one" 1 John 5:19. Quite the contradiction. Or is it? Dun dun DUNNNNNNN!!!!!!!

      July 7, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Mike

      Having control and power are two different things. Satan does have the control... Jesus has the power to take it away. I allow my daughter to drive (control) my automobile. I have the (power) to take it away. Just a thought...

      July 7, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • G to the T

      Mike – I would have to disagree. Both are examples of control/power. Control is a type of power.

      July 9, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  5. Neo Atheist.

    That bloodshed and war for Independence is what allows you to follow the religion and path that you choose. Without that War you wouldn't have the religious freedom that you have. Religion and Patriotism don't have to go together. As an Atheist I am about as patriotic as I can be.

    July 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • justice for all

      President George H W Bush has said an atheist is not a patriot and should not be an American citizen, we are one nation under God

      July 6, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Observer

      justice for all

      President George H W Bush also said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and sent 4,000 Americans to die for that lie.

      July 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Observer

      Ooops! Go ahead. Beat me up. Wrong bad president named Bush.

      President George H. W. Bush was famous for saying "read my lips. no new taxes".

      July 6, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Austin

      not gunna do it

      July 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Telly

      G. H. W. Bush is also responsible for NAFTA, which was hardly good for America. He should shut his mouth as to what true patriotism is.

      July 7, 2013 at 12:08 am |

      I believe that the wrong side won that war. Otherwise, I am quite patriotic

      July 7, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • JLS639

      "That bloodshed and war for Independence is what allows you to follow the religion and path that you choose."

      I am afraid your nice clean view of the United States being a beacon of religious freedom compared to old Europe is not quite so clean in reality. Anabaptists practiced their religions quite freely in the colonies. They were not allowed to practice their non-violence (i.e., compelled military combat service) until the 1940s. The British, on the other hand, gave exceptions to military service for non-violence religions back in the 1700s.

      Therefore: non-violent religions were more free to practice the non-violent aspect of their religion in the British colonies than they were after independence.

      Was religious practice more free after independence than before? That depends... technically Jews and Roman Catholics could hold public jobs they could not before. However, individual states oppressed religious minorities more zealously than British governors allowed and that oppression was not ended at the state and local level until the 14th amendment was ratified.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  6. Stephen

    Yeshua provided my salvation. He also gave me new perspective. This world is passing away. As a believer in Yeshua and His Messianic Reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords my focus is beyond this life. My true citizenship (spiritual) is in heaven. Blessed be His Name. May you too come to find peace with God the Father through Yeshua/Jesus the Son. Shalom

    July 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Your perspective is hardly "new." Good luck with your invisible sky wizard.

      July 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • justice for all

      Good luck to you on judgement day

      July 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Telly

      Thanks, justice. Good luck to you, too.

      July 6, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • justice for all

      I've got grace luck is for losers

      July 6, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Telly

      Do you? You have an odd way of showing it. You sound very mean-spirited and not at all like one who has been bathed in the Holy Spirit.

      July 6, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
  7. MrCrewel Dude

    Religion, ha, what is it good 4, absolutely nothing!

    July 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Athy

      Hey, it keeps the mindless religies on the straight and narrow. They need it, we don't. It's that simple.

      July 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  8. dlwetz

    I think we can love our country of birth/adoption w.o. treating it in an idolatrous manner. I see Scriptures/Jesus' life as providing us inspiration for ways of loving our neighbors and subverting the imperialistic tendencies of our country or the ways certain groups and unjust policies get entrenched.

    July 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Reality

    Dear Mennonite Worker Committee,

    Some added 21st century nitty-gritty–

    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

    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.

    (references used are available upon request)

    July 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • P. Barker

      As generous as you are in your narcissistic offer to allow us to quote you.......no thanks!! You show up on these sites blathering on and on.....it is not as impressive a showing as you might think.

      July 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  10. A simple answer

    Nobody agrees with what any government does all the time or all of it. You do have to be greatful for what you have too.

    July 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  11. tallulah13

    So they are willing to take the freedom but are unwilling to be grateful for it, or to be thankful to those who earned it? How very hypocritical.

    July 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  12. Peter

    These guys are no different from the Rapture-Ready. Those people can't wait for King Jesus to invade, overthrow all the democratically elected governments on the planet, and end our nationhood under his dictatorship. They must mourn the passing of each new fourth that their "Savior" fails to return.

    July 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell


      July 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Jesus is the King of all God's sons and their generations by which all of them reside upon the atomic scales of atomized cosmologies and they all take up residencies within and inside our bodies. Have you not read in the scriptures that the "Kingdom domains of God reside inside our bodies"? It is even written that our bodies are mere buildings for the sons and families of God to maintain and take residencies within our embodied structures. Christians fail to rationalize such a fruition of truthfulness.

      July 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Mike

      Man, you've got some thinking to do. Name one thing this country does that is righteous. What stance do capitalists have that is defended by scripture? When has God blessed the killing of millions? The flood? If you are part of that 80%, you are adding in your own scripture to the Bible that says, "God hath blessed the United States of America to carry out my will through killing a native people. They are blessed to spread the word of corporate power, the pursuit of wealth, and treasures here on Earth."

      But I will not subscribe to your blasphemy.

      July 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Peter

      If you don't like this country so much why not leave it for a more "righteous" place? Iran maybe? Or North Korea, since you're so anti-Capitalist?

      July 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Peter

      What are you smokin', brother?

      July 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  13. R.M. Goodswell

    The Amish and Mennonites are only pacifistic to keep outsiders for interfering with their society – if they were the majority, they would be handing out old testament punishments for the same 'crimes' as the other fundamentalist Christians. Take a close look at the rigid system these people live under...is a nightmare.

    America has its problems yes, but the answer isn't their brand of lunacy. As for the Evangelical bunch....

    July 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell


      July 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      R.M/ Goodswell,

      I know of Christendom's sensual flavorings in that they obviate or remove themselves from certain truths that scripture decisively makes in a fruition of noteworthiness. Is it not written that one and all who read the scriptures that we all should "firstly seek the kingdom domains of God" which is upon our bodies' insides and is no part or parcel of all living civilizations? This view is the reason I no longer attend church for all any church sermons do is lay their words of preaching upon dire emotionalisms which dare confuse and discombobulate their flocking herds. Yes, I believe in Christ Jesus but I do not follow these manmade churches for they all are money grubbers.

      July 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      @ LL

      Why not lose the God angle completely? If organized religion doesn't works for you, then why give the bible any relevance? in any any of its various forms, it backs the foundation of a particular denomination.

      be a good person if that is your aim...adding in the Christian crap just adds annoying, unnecessary baggage .

      July 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      R.M. Goodswell wrote and asked me, "Why not lose the God angle completely? If organized religion doesn't works for you, then why give the bible any relevance?"

      I will not loose myself from my Godly ideologies for the main reasoning that I believe in there being powers far greater than mortal mankind. The relevancies of certain scriptures relate to me to first and foremost, "seek out the kingdom domains of God"! Science is scouring the outer domains of stellar spatial reckonings and also investigating our atomic inner domains. What sciences fail to consider is that the outermost realm of cosmic orderliness there lays God and within or inside our bodies' atomized domains there lives God's first born sons. The scriptures bare these views of mine to be of truthfulness.

      July 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      @ LL

      So you want there to be a supreme creator- with emphasis on want.

      It would seem to me you picked Christianity at random and kinda threw a bunch of other out of left field mumbo jumbo in there for good measure.

      July 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      R.M. Goodswell,

      Your negatively bias commentaries will gain "us" nothing but bickering banter on your slippery slope of creative desiring meant to be inflammatory statutes of a whoremonger seeking to debase any and all who dare seem against your tribunal congregates of deniability in "astranged" psychological "negomosities".

      July 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Telly

      Lionlylamb, if you don't want people to misinterpret your posts, write them in a clearer manner. People should not have to work so hard to parse the meaning of your posts; say what you mean and mean what you say. I doubt that you talk in this manner; don't write that way, either, please.
      Of course, if it is your intention to write this way to obscure your meaning, and confuse people, so not be surprise if people assign different meaning than what you are trying to convey.

      And don't even try to insinuate that I am not intelligent enough to decipher your posts. I am an English teacher and you communicate poorly.

      July 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Telly

      "...so do not be surprised..."
      Teacher gives himself an "F" in proofreading before posting.

      July 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      I am not a child and I will not write as a child writes and reads. If it is your desire to deflate my Word via verbal evisceration then your being as a teacher infers to me that you teach elementary grade "schoolers". In your deciphering ways I can see you are absent in all mannerisms of wordage usages and you should consider learning at least a few new words each day to enrich your vocabulary instead of being complacent with your stale vernacular wisdom.

      July 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Athy

      Telly is an infinitely better writer than you, LL. And I think anyone who has tried to read your confusing nonsense will agree.

      July 6, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Telly

      I teach at a college level.

      And you write very immaturely and convey nothing of value in your posts except that you have a vocabulary that you employ in inappropriate ways.
      After reading several of your posts, I am convinced that you are not here to communicate a thought effectively; you are here as nothing more than a vanity writer who doesn't care whether his musings are comprehended. Plainly, you are just here as some sort of post hog.
      You remind me of a Damon Wayans sketch. Except, as written, he was intentionally funny.
      You are intentionally pretentious and pompous. In other words, a pseudo intellectual word hack.

      Grow up.

      July 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Telly – lionly has been labelled a vanity writer many times. It does nothing to stop the verbal diarrhea that is his standard fare. Attempting to assign any value to this nonsense is an exercise in futility.

      July 6, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Telly

      Why, thank you, Athy.

      July 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, saying someone's a better writer than LL is kind of a backhanded compliment. But you're quite welcome.

      July 6, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • fyi


      Lionly has told us that he suffers from some mental illnesses. He can usually take a bit of gentle ribbing about his writing; and on some days he is more lucid than other days. Just so you know...

      July 6, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Telly

      I get that, Athy. I'm not in the least offended. My ten-year-old daughter is also a better writer than lionlylamb.

      Midwest rail: noted. Thanks. I will waste no more time on him.

      July 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Telly

      Fyi, thanks.

      July 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  14. Reality

    Dear Mennonite Worker Committee,

    Some 21st century nitty-gritty–

    Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah/Argentine white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    July 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Reality asked, "So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?"

      Your inclusiveness toward the allness of civilization thru stating "we" is berating and does not include those who religiously temper themselves upon Christendom's ideologies. Try to consolidate who you are inferring to speak for instead of implying all,,,

      July 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Akra

      Oh, he should have said "
      So why do we (except for lionlylamb, CLEARLY he cares) really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?"

      Feel better now?

      July 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      What semi-rationalized Reality should have wrote is not we but rather "those of us who are not religiously devoted". Reality seems to want to be a spokesperson so he should temper his wordage accordingly. Your semi-lucid hatred toward Christians can only satisfy those who endorse atheistic barbarism in that such verbal melancholies are insinuative gibberish.

      July 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Akira

      "Your semi-lucid hatred toward Christians can only satisfy those who endorse atheistic barbarism in that such verbal melancholies are insinuative gibberish."

      1) I don't hate Christians, semi-lucidly or not. Please repost any post of mine that I have ever stated such a thing.

      2) Your pointing out that Reality made a generalization is ludicrous, in that you do this on a regular basis. See: your post that gays hate heteros, and visa versa.

      3) You stating anything about "gibberish" is the pot calling the kettle black; see: the same post reference above, where you made up the word "heterophobia" and your absurd definition/use of it.

      July 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  15. Steve Martinez

    Yet another explanation of why the cause of peace is among brethren will never fully come to pass. As long as there are two people alive with differences, there will never truly be peace, only undeclared (or declared) war. Blessed are the peacemakers, not the peace-prayers.

    July 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  16. ric822

    As someone that was raised with the Mennonite /Anabaptist traditions, I understand the desire for nonviolence. However, where are these same people’s calls for an end to tyranny? The outcome of violence and the results of tyranny both cause is harm to the body and the spirit.

    July 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Kurt Willems

      Check out Christian Peacemaker Teams. One example of many where peacemaking is not just a conversation, but a risk to life and limb for the cause of Christ and justice: http://www.cpt.org/

      July 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  17. Colin

    “Let’s face it — the Sermon on the Mount makes for lousy foreign or public policy. We can’t have it both ways.”

    So very true. This is the problem with the only original philosophy espoused by Jesus – it simply does not work. For "love thy enemy" or "turn the other cheek" to work, it must be universally adopted.

    Does anybody truly think either such philosophy would have worked with Hitler, with Al Queda after 9-11 or with your average suburban criminal?

    July 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • bostontola

      Wouldn't work with Hitler? It wouldn't work if every person on earth was Christian. As it is, there are many sects of Christianity, and many of those would fight over which shade of gray is the one truth.

      July 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • required

      What Jesus said, works fine.

      You're missing the other half, what happens later, what you don't see.

      July 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  18. Thought Purification

    it is okay to show your disagreements as long as you you don't resort to violence, like muslims. People do not have to be victims of your views.

    July 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • AE

      Americans resort to violence all the time.

      July 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Observer


      Yes. Look at the shootings and bombings at legal abortion clinics done by rightwing domestic terrorists.

      July 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Within a bushel there are always rotting vestiges: for decaying of ripeness is forever an infection of living issues that humanisms will always attend towards.

      July 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Peter

      Thought Purification
      Don't you mean "like some Muslims"? Not every Muslim is violent just like not every Christian is h0m0phobic, right?

      July 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      TP, Aside from 9/11, most terrorist attacks were committed by christians, and violence in general presumably is proportionate to the general populace, i.e. predominately christian.

      July 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  19. bostontola

    Christians aren't the only pacifists that are a-patriotic. These groups are harmless (unlike WBC). I'm ok that our veterans' blood has provided them a safe perch to preach from. I can't comprehend their inability to see that there are causes worth fighting for, but that's their extreme belief.

    July 6, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  20. Telly

    What happened to "render that is Caesar's...."

    July 6, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • guest

      good try, bit it doesn't compare.

      July 6, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Telly

      Why not?

      July 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      How about "slaves obey your masters"?

      July 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • servantofTHEWORD

      The Pharisees question to Jesus was concerning tribute money/taxes.

      July 7, 2013 at 1:45 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.