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. lionlylamb2013

    What's the matter cnn? Can't handle my truths so you have to delete it? Your trash cnn. pure trash and may God and all his first born sons show all your flailing future generations; No Mercies!

    July 7, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Edweird69

      You're actually casting a spell?

      July 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Observer

      "Your trash cnn"

      It's "you're" not "your".

      CNN has posted thousands of your pompous babbling comments. Grow up. Show a little appreciation and be less of an ingrate.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      ahhh, deary,
      you can only have ONE first born son.

      good curse tho ..

      July 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  2. Irony

    Atheists running around pointing at the Christians and the "Christians" claiming they are cramming their beliefs down everyone's throats – and some certainly are- while the atheists cram their beliefs down everyone's throats as well... and being hypocrites just as much while pointing the finger. Neither is better, neither is more foolish looking.

    July 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What atheist beliefs are being crammed down anywhere?

      July 7, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Edweird69

      Christian belief's deserve ridicule. Christian's make a very extreme statement that they are sure their god exists. An extreme statement requires at least an oz. of proof...for which they have none.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      They can exist with Muslims and Jews ....Buddhists and Hindus are a non issue .. you have a POTUS going on record as saying that atheists shouldn't even be citizens and poll after poll claiming that the majority of this nation see atheists as being unable to be trusted. Why?

      because atheists are the biggest threat facing the religious... no guns, no bombs – just logic and reason...glaring common sense. Atheists threaten the control that rich and clergy have over the masses...

      July 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
  3. Don't

    Religion, in the end, is just delusion. To use it for decision-making is to imagine it however you like. There are no standards, no facts, no science, no knowledge of any sort in religion. It is imaginary claims ONLY.
    To use an imaginary claim as a basis for killing other people is to use psychosis to justify violence – not a good situation.
    If you can't reason out why it is a bad idea to kill any particular person, then you are nothing more than an amoral idiot.

    July 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  4. Seyedibar

    Christians. Whether it's music, acting, or politics, it's just so difficult to take them seriously. You believe in talking snakes and zombies, so how are we supposed to have a conversation about real life?

    July 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  5. ACJS

    A congregation of less than 100 and you blame all Christians CNN this is low even for your organization.

    July 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What? Can you show where the author "blames" anyone of anything in this article?

      July 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Telly

      What the...no, they didn't. Did you even read the article?? This is not putting "blame" on anyone. Where did you get that notion from?

      This group sounds no different than some of the anti-government fringe groups out there. My gosh. Your persecution complex is strong!

      July 7, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Russ

      Unfortunately this is journalism which gets people to respond, that's what they want and look at all the replies.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Russ, the only way your post makes sense is if you agree with ACJS that CNN is "blaming" 100% of all Christians for something or other. Please point out where this article:

      1. blames anyone of anything
      2. blames 100% of Christians for something
      3. claims that this article by this author speaks for ALL OF CNN.

      Thanks, Russ.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • Russ

      I agree to the point that the article chooses to lump peolpe together, in this case Christians. The author (on-purpose or not) chose to write the article with such a slant to cause the fervor that it does. CNN OPINION and Christian Blog are the worst for this type of journalism.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      So you can't answer any of the questions, then. Thanks Russ.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  6. Fieldkorn

    If you don't believe in a living God, that is your right both as an American and as a human being. Your choice, not mine. That said, the idea that Christ would somehow speak ill of those who take up arms in defense of their country have it wrong, as well. When Christ was asked by the Roman Centurion to heal the latter's servant there was no pre-condition on Jesus' part for the soldier to first renounce his service to the much-hated Roman government. Indeed, Christ marveled at the strength of the Centurion's faith. Nothing in Scripture prevents one from joining military service, serving one's country. But are command to pray for our leaders and the welfare of our nation. And, by the way, for the salvation of non-believers who even mock the Christ with such cynical pronouncements as "What is truth?"

    July 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • lionlylamb2013

      Gen 6:1 ¶ And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

      Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

      Gen 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Telly

      Nothing in Scripture says one must join the military, either. If these folks want to live as Jesus did, who are you or anyone to criticize? Because they're not mainstream you are going to condemn the way they show their faith?

      July 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Don't

      Don't mix religion and politics. Just don't.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      "Christ" said none of those things because he never existed. You're quoting fables.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Russ

      Thank you for your post!!

      July 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  7. Observer

    "It gives me pleasure to know that atheist kill themselves more, have higher rates of mental illness, etc."

    "atheists! Them culling their own herd does please me"

    Just another world-class Christian hypocrite.

    Sick, sadistic Christians should skip the hypocrisy and read the Bible for once. Did Jesus ever say such sadistic things? Of course not. Here's what he said.

    Matthew 7:12 “Treat others as you want them to treat you. THIS IS WHAT THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS ARE ALL ABOUT.”

    July 7, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  8. You will never convince me that Jesus and God are real.

    Stupidity and Ignorance at its best.

    July 7, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You will never convince me that 2+2=3, but I could certainly be convinced that an invisible sky wizard chanted a magic spell and the universe came into being. Sensible arguments and verifiable facts would be a start.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • required

      Why can't someone just tell you God exists? That's what they're telling you in the bible, repeatidly, multiple people saying it. If someone tells you today, why isn't that good enough? At what point is it good enough? Some of the eye witness accounts given are signed by the authors, Peter, Paul, John and others, both New and Old Testaments.

      God exists.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Observer


      It would take less than 5 seconds for God to prove to everyone that he exists. That would supposedly save billions of souls, but those 5 seconds are too much to ask of God.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • required

      He has to do something that immense, for you to believe him? And I thought it was expensive to buy belief, boy was I wrong.

      You want God himself to go out and work in the fields so you can watch him work.

      He already did that, see Jesus... who believed the report? Some did, some didn't.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      God is invisible and undetectable. Stories are stories; every culture has them, and people believe in the god of their culture. People so sure that the Christian god is the correct one would be just as sure that it was Allah if they had been born in Saudi Arabia. All god would need to do is make himself as obvious as math or chemistry, because muslim terrorists and Christian abortion-clinic-bombers both use the same math and chemistry to make their weapons but they believe drastically different things about god. Math and chemistry don't work if you do them wrong, but with god, there's just no telling. There's no practical application that proves your belief any better than anyone else's.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Observer


      "He has to do something that immense, for you to believe him?"

      He's omnipotent, supposedly. He can do anything.

      Why is asking less than 5 seconds actuallty asking for too much?
      God doesn't need to work in the fields. Just take the 5 seconds to prove the unproven. Save billions of souls? Nope. Too much to ask.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • required

      In order for me to believe you, you will have to behave like an equation. If I move you 5 meters to the left, you must behave in a different way than before. If I increase the air temperature, you must change your vocal pitch a known amount, every time.

      You want God to behave similar to that, good luck.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      A decent god would be as obvious as math or chemistry and destroy hell
      A good god would transform the universe into heaven and end suffering and adequately explain just what the fvck all that suffering was for

      July 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      We don't know what gravity is, but we know it exists. Why isn't god that obvious? We don't know how gravity does what it does, but it does it consistently all the time every time and that allows us to measure it and understand it to the degree that we can measure it. Why doesn't god give us something, anything, to measure him by? Why not just make himself obvious? Why does god love Doubting Thomas more than atheists? All we want is proof.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Observer


      lol. I knew you couldn't come up with an answer.

      Why is asking for 5 seconds asking too much of God to save billions of souls?

      July 7, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • required

      He's already done it multiple times, eye witnesses saying yes, he did is there. How many have to tell you and how many times? You want God to be like a ticking second hand, so you can watch and check that he's still there, each tick, yes, he's there... you want that for an eternity so you can verify he's always there.

      God exists.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Observer


      "He's already done it multiple times, eye witnesses saying yes,"

      The Bible stories are two thousand years old and apparently none of the main writers were actually there. Matthew? Mark? Luke? John?

      Anything new and irrefutable in two thousand years? (note the word "irrefutable")

      Five seconds is asking too much for billions of souls.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The principles of math are obvious, and it only works if you do it correctly. Because of this, people around the globe all believe the same thing about math. The principles of "god" are made up, and because of this, people can believe anything that they want about god because there's nothing to stop them. You can't believe that 2+2 = 3 because when in the real world when you pick up two more of something you have two of already, boom, you suddenly have four. But with god, it never matters; you can believe anything you want because there's no real-world consequence for believing incorrectly.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • required

      Summing up what you want so far:

      1. God has to be chemicals, physical stuff, or an equation
      2. God has to be like a second hand you can view to be sure he's still there
      3. God has to expend untold amounts of energy for 5 seconds
      4. No one God sends is good enough to be believed
      5. Anyone telling you today isn't good enough to be believed
      6. Nothing in the bible is convincing
      7. Everyone writing scripture or giving eye witness accounts had to have been lying.

      Not one thing in the bible is out of the ordinary, it only seems that way because you don't believe God or anyone telling you he's there. But there is always the start of the universe, and you don't dwell on that, or life, or species, or male and female tracking together.

      God exists. Maybe make an app to remind people, it could ring a bell once every 5 seconds, blink a message on your screen.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • required

      You build up all these reasons to reject God with, like a fortress to keep him out.

      You don't look for the treasure, to love him with.

      July 8, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Nope, you are misunderstanding me. I am saying that god is evil for not making himself as obvious as gravity and as knowable as math or chemistry. For him to allow so much evil to be done in his name by all the people in the "wrong" religions, and for him to never prove himself verifiably to those who really want to know the truth about him is terrible. If god were good and cared, we'd not be able to disagree; we're not able to disagree about math or chemistry or gravity, are we? Perhaps god does not exist, or perhaps he does not care what we think about him, but there's no way to know which is the case.

      July 8, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • Observer


      "Not one thing in the bible is out of the ordinary,"

      I have read thousands of blog comments, but that may be the funniest ever.

      Unicorns are ordinary. Talking animals are ordinary. The earth stopping still for a day is ordinary. A 600-year-old man building a ship holding millions of animals is ordinary. Most of the laws of science are optional is ordinary.

      What universe do you live in? That was a good one!

      July 8, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • required

      Show nothing forming a universe, or anything for that matter. Have nothing do as many of these as you can coax it into forming:

      1. a pebble
      2. a boulder
      3. a mountain
      4. a continent
      5. a planet
      6. a solar system
      7. a galaxy
      8. a universe

      Any of those, have nothing form one of them, until then you have nothing, and it won't save you. Nothing has never formed anything. No one ever says nothing did anything for them, or says anything to them.

      There are all kinds of reports of God having done such. What's holding back nothing? Isn't anyone convinced it can do anything? No one wants to back it up? Where's the evidence for nothing doing anything?

      July 8, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • HotAirAce

      required, have you read "Atom" or "A Universe from Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss? He makes way more sense than The Babble.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • required

      Are you saying nothing wrote a book? Nothing now has a name, it's an author? When did this happen?

      I want to see evidence, I want atheists to put up or shut up. Show evidence that nothing does anything. Here are the things that are acceptable evidence that nothing can form things. Have nothing form these:

      1. a pebble
      2. a boulder
      3. a mountain
      4. a continent
      5. a planet
      6. a solar system
      7. a galaxy
      8. a universe

      And since there is no proof nothing can do those, have someone give an eye witness account that nothing did something, formed something, any of those. To be as convincing as the bible, have as many people as witnessed God did things, have that many or more say nothing formed any of those things. Next, have as many people that reported God spoke to them, told them future events, interacting with them, have that many people report the same for nothing. How intelligent is nothing? How creative? How loving?

      If you can't do that, you have nothing, and it won't save you.

      Do you feel love for nothing? You're missing out on that too.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • required

      I don't want to burst your bubble Hot Air, but the offer you're making is the worst offer ever presented in the entire history of the planet. To trade the God of the universe, for nothing, is the abosolute worst deal ever offered by anyone. No thanks, I don't want nothing.

      I want the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the one that sent Jesus to die and raise again the third day, he's the best.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:34 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Trust me, you are not bursting any bubbles, or making a coherent argument. You asked for an explanation for how something might have come from nothing. I merely provided a reference to a couple of books by a highly regarded scientist. Whether you read them or not will not change the fact that you, or any other believer, do not have any objective, verifiable, independent or factual evidence for your alleged god. You apparently believe in something with no foundation – you are delusional, mentally ill or a liar. Have a nice life.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • tallulah13

      required: your first mistake is believing that the bible is an eye-witness account signed by it's authors. No one really knows who wrote the bible, and none of the new testament was written until several decades after the alleged death of Christ. There is nothing in contemporary non-christian writing that record any of the miraculous events depicted in the bible. Indeed, the entire story of the exodus appears to be completely fabricated: There is no record of a population of jewish slaves in Egypt.

      You can believe in your god all you want. Just remember that your blind faith is no different than a belief in Zeus or Osiris, or any of the thousands of other gods humanity has invented to make them less afraid of the unknown.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  9. Scott Allen

    Pretty standard anti-Christian rant. If the church is so anti-America, why do they have thousands of prayer groups that gather to do nothing but pray for the benefit of America. Why are churches generally the first to show up at national disasters. Why are there so many soldiers that are vocal about their belief. Judging the entire church based upon a small group is pure rubbish. You might as well say all men are wife beaters just because there are many who do. I'm a believer. I love my country. It has it's faults, no doubt about that, but when you compare it to many nations out their, America the beautiful shines. Many won't be dissuaded from their anti-Christian views by reading any article, but that doesn't change the fact that your article is hogwash. Guess what? My wife (one of those who prayers for the US constantly) choice fabric that says "God bless America" with the flag and other patriotic symbols on it to make into her new cooking apron to remind her to prayer for the US while she cooks.

    July 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Guess what, when you are praying, you arent actually doing anyhting to help anyone (except to make yourself feel good). Also, many people who arent your religion serve too. Get over yourself.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Telly

      Did you miss the part where it says Mennonites are Christians? You didn't read the article, did you? They're not anti-Christian, they're anti-WAR. Get a clue.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      A lot of good it does. Prayer has been proven to be ineffective.
      People need to feel they are in control of something.
      Prayer is meaningless.
      It their god is omniscient, she already knows what she is going to do.
      If she changes her mind because a puny human prays to her, then she is no god worth the name.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
  10. SmartLawyer

    This article is total crap. Authentic Christian Churches pray for the country – they also have American Flags in their lobbies. Which is more than you can say for some colleges.

    July 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Whats an authentic christian church? let me guess,the one you go to.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • sybaris

      lookout, they're not saying "true" chistian anymore, now it's "authentic" christian.

      Same BS, different wrapper.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Telly

      There are official rules as to what one prays for? Who knew.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Authentic Christians would pray for ALL countires.
      Authentic Christians "sell all your goods, give them to the poor, and come follow me".
      I seriously doubt Mr. Lawyer Man has done that.

      July 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
  11. topcat

    be thankful that this line of religion wasnt the norm when the ottomans invaded the west. thier divine command would trump our turn the other cheek. we wouldnt be able to own land or vote in our own countries. is this the world we wish we lived in?

    July 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  12. tnbaer

    It's a shame the author mentioned only left-of-center leaders like Steenwyk & Claiborne. It also isn't nearly as "underground" as you may think. Ron Paul, a devout Christian Evangelical, could widely be described as a right-wing pacifist. We don't discuss it out loud, speaking against the state is wildly unpopular, so we are quiet on Facebook. For instance, once, when I brought it up with another Christian I barely knew I was accused of not being a Christian at all. Talking about our endless wars and why Christians should refrain from military service often puts you in an ugly spot. Still, I've engaged a number of my friends in private chats about our disillusionment with the Government and serving two masters. The idea of a Christian being an "anti-patriot" isn't nearly as uncommon as it sounds. It's just that, all things considered, the Christians who are patriots go full bore.

    July 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • gaijincrash

      I'm not so sure these movements are necessarily anti-patriot, as much as anti-culture. To find fault with one's nation doesn't mean one is against it. One might even argue that those that watch vigilantly against national corruption and abuses may be MORE patriotic than those that blindly wave the flag and follow any given party or leader.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  13. AE

    "Wearing a cross" is easy.

    Carrying the cross is hard.

    Being a Christian is hard. Taking a hard look at yourself and admitting your sins is difficult. And to completely and 100% give your life to Christ is hard.

    Any former minister who thinks that is easy.... well I doubt he seriously did it himself.

    July 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • EX catholic

      Very well said!!

      July 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Oh bvllsh!t. It's as easy to be Christian in America as it is to Muslim in Saudi Arabia.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • AE

      Captain O
      A lot of people label themselves a Christian, but don't truly follow Him.

      It is far easier to wear a cross than carry one.

      To quote Him than to follow Him.

      To deny our sins than to deny ourselves.

      To know about Him than to know Him.

      If you don't daily seek His direction and desire to make sacrifices based on His will, you are not following Him. No matter how many hours you spent studying and reading.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • AE

      "Whoever does not carry hos own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple." Jesus (Luke 14:27)

      Our relationship with Jesus defines genuine Christianity. No salvation prayer, church membership or baptism can ever substi.tute for intimate communion with Jesus Himself.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Well, if you say so, AE. I'm concerned with the logical weight of ideas; that you've given yourself over to a flawed idea that had some weight in recent history isn't that bothersome to me.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Robert

      Being an atheist is hard. To not rely on the comforts of "it will all be ok in the end" delusions is hard.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • AE

      That is what Jesus said.

      He said to count the costs of following Him. If you weren't willing to treat it as more than a social club or a way to network with other professionals, don't even bother. It looks like you are following His directions.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      There are no "costs," and there's nothing that a person who believes he is "following Christ" can do that a charlatan can't do. The thinking believer has only one power that a nonbeliever does not: He is able to compartmentalize his mind so that his religious philosophy supersedes argument or fact somehow, someway, at all times. However, all believers of all faiths have this ability, so it cannot be claimed as magical proof of any one religious belief.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • AE

      Are you content to pursue your life, or His?

      Are you willing to lose your life no matter the personal sacrifices?

      Are you willing to change behaviors, jobs, friends or att.itudes if God desires you to change?

      Do you trust that God's will for your life is superior to your own, and do you earnestly desire to complete His purpose for you?

      You had to have answered yes to these questions to be a follower of Jesus Christ, right? To be a minster, you had to have answered 100% yes to all questions, right? I mean... that is basically what Jesus Christ is recorded as asking from us.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Yes, those are the questions, but what should concern you is that the answers can be anything. A person can justify any action by claiming that it was a "good" response to one of those "questions" and you have nothing (other than your contrary opinion/interpretation) to show that he is "answering" those questions with incorrect actions. Following your god is just a fancy way of doing what you want and saying that people who disagree with you are wrong.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      AE, it's intriguing that you can surrender your life to something completely imaginary, receive and obey imaginary commands from it, I suppose, and live a fulfilling life of obedience to it. You may realize from time to time that it is imaginary. You probably call your moments of clarity doubt. Just as an experiment, explore your doubt. Think it through. Mightn't all of this stuff work in the same way without there being any real God at all?

      July 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • AE

      Jesus Christ is not completely imaginary. Maybe to you. But you are not God, so what you believe is not the true gauge of reality.

      You are in the Bible, it talks about those who don't believe. I was one, too, for many years. So I know it speaks the truth.

      July 8, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  14. mickinmd

    "...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..."

    Mainstream? Mennonites, Amish, Evangelicals, Branch Davidians, etc. are WAY out of the mainstream. Mainstream is Roman Catholic, Greek, Russian, etc. Orthodox Catholic (that's about 2/3 of all Christians right there), Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and most large organized Christian denominations who haven't twisted the message of Jesus of Nazareth into a hatred of other people or of scientific and technological progress.

    July 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • EX catholic

      Roman catholic? Are you serious? That is as Ridiculous as it gets. Roman Catholics are Idolatrous and IDOLATRY is not Religion "main stream" or not. You are delusional!

      July 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • tnbaer

      About 2/3rds are Catholic? Maybe in Baltimore and Boston. But in the States most Christians identify as Protestants. The heaviest percentage of those Protestants being Evangelicals (a little over 25%). So, yeah, "mainstream." Focus on the Family and all that jazz.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Saraswati

      About half the world's christians and 1/3 US christians are Catholic.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  15. Jay David

    IIt's nice that, at least, one Christian group actually believes in the teachings of Jesus. The teachings of most Christian denominations, including all major denominations, are completely anti-Christ in including a belief in the godliness of war and the death penalty and the typical Christian's hatred for gays and women and Christianity's long support of slavery.

    July 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • wolftune

      Completely agree with this. Christianity could be a beautiful religion if people followed the teachings of...Christianity. Not bible thumpers, conservative preachers, or church dogma. If Christians would just write down everything Jesus ever said or did and then follow one of them per day, we would indeed have a better country.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  16. MagicPanties

    Yes, more silly Christians, what a surprise.
    This should be called the anti-thinking movement, as that is the basis of all religions.

    July 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  17. cd

    Nice job CNN,you don't let's s down in coming in second the the JR HIGH NEWSLETTER.

    July 7, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      "Opinion" pieces aren't for everybody.

      July 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  18. Ronnie Harper

    Religious people are the stupidest, most useless bags of air ever.

    July 7, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      All of them?

      July 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  19. Tweety Bird

    why wear winter coat and hat?

    July 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Akira

      Not really 4th of July wear, is it? I'm hoping it's an old picture...

      July 7, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Cynthia

      Have you considered that those are pix of Australian Mennonites preparing for caroling during the Australian winter Christmas?

      July 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Jack

      No, because the caption says "Mark Van Steenwyk leads his Mennonite Worker Community in Minneapolis." And Austrailian Christmas is the same day as our Christmas. What a silly post.

      July 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • logan5

      It's simply an image of the group taken during the winter.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  20. gus schultz

    I agree with dugan...Who needs the garbage preached by Billy Graham..'Love your neighbour' ? Who needs it ? Guys like Ed and myself are in this world to have fun and live totally for ourselves without any interference from God.

    July 7, 2013 at 8:22 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.