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July 22nd, 2013
04:09 PM ET

Explosive found near site pope plans to visit

By John L. Allen Jr., CNN, and CNN Staff

Rio de Janeiro (CNN) - A small explosive device was found Sunday near a religious shrine in Brazil that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit later this week, Sao Paulo military police announced just few hours after the pope arrived on Monday.

The homemade device was found July 21, during police training in Aparecida, the site of a massive shrine to the Virgin Mary, Brazilian police said. It was constructed out of a small, plastic cylinder and duct tape.

A special tactical group detonated the explosive without causing any injuries, according to the police.

The affected area was not part of the pope's route, Brazilian police said. Rather, it was being prepared for pilgrims to World Youth Day, a weeklong Catholic event expected to draw hundreds of thousands to Brazil.

The pope is scheduled to travel to the national shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida on Wednesday. Neither Vatican nor Brazilian officials have said those plans will change.

Vatican officials say Francis requested the trip to the Marian shrine, said to be the largest in the world, because of his personal devotion to the Virgin Mary. He is scheduled to preach and celebrate Mass at the shrine.

The surprising disclosure about the explosive came just after Francis, making his first international trip since his March election, had delivered brief remarks to Brazilian dignitaries, including President Dilma Rousseff.

As the pope was driven from the airport to downtown Rio, crowds mobbed his small silver car, reaching out to touch the first Latin American pontiff. Later, they lined the streets as the "Popemobile" wound through downtown.

READ MORE: Pope Francis embarks on historic trip to Brazil 

Despite the rock-star greeting, Francis kept to his remarkably self-effacing persona upon his arrival in Rio de Janeiro. The pope said he wanted to “knock gently” on Brazil’s door during his first overseas journey, making sure it was OK to proceed.

“I ask permission to come in and spend this week with you,” the pope said to his somewhat startled hosts.

Francis arrived in Rio on Monday for the start of World Youth Day, which, despite its name, is actually a weeklong gathering of Catholic youth from around the world. It was launched by the late Pope John Paul II in the mid-1980s.

In truth, it would be tough to find anyone in Brazil inclined to refuse Francis permission to enter.

Those looking forward to the papal sojourn include hundreds of thousands of pumped-up young Catholic pilgrims; a Brazilian government eager for a good news cycle after a summer of discontent; agitated Brazilian protesters, hoping for a papal blessing for their demands; and even hordes of journalists with deadlines to meet.

After touching down, Francis also offered an echo of his identity as the “pope of the poor.”

“I have neither silver nor gold,” he said, “but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ!"

The pope challenged young people to “create a world of brothers and sisters” and older generations to ensure that today’s youth have “the material and spiritual conditions for their full development,” including “safety and education” as well as “lasting values.”

MORE: PHOTOS OF POPE FRANCIS IN BRAZIL 

Earlier Monday, aboard the papal plane en route to Rio, Francis worried aloud about a “throwaway culture” that neglects young people and the elderly. He said elderly persons can offer “the wisdom of life, the wisdom of the past, the wisdom of our country and our family.”

Local organizers estimated that 700,000 youth from around the world have already arrived in Rio de Janeiro to greet Francis, and some projections peg the final total at about 2 million for a youth vigil with the pope on Saturday and his concluding open-air Mass on Sunday.

Though public reaction suggests that Francis made a strong debut, the weeklong trip will have its challenges.

Latin America has long been a Catholic stronghold, but in recent years, evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants have made deep inroads.

A recent study found that a quarter-century ago, Brazil was 90% Catholic, but today it is 65%. There’s also a rising cohort of secular Latin Americans with no religious affiliation, especially among youths and city-dwellers.

Moreover, of the 21 nations usually reckoned as part of Latin America, 14 of them are led by center-left governments that have sometimes crossed swords with the region’s Catholic leaders over issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage – including in the pope’s home nation of Argentina.

Brazil has also recently been gripped by an anti-establishment mood, fueled by anger over spending on mega-events such as the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, while many ordinary people believe that services such as education, health care and transportation languish.

There’s little indication that protesters want to embarrass the pope. Instead, they seem to be hoping to take advantage of his moral authority to bring attention to their cause. This week, one group that helped kindle the massive June demonstrations has plans for a rally under the banner “Pope, look how we’re treated!”

The greater danger for Francis may be that all sides in the country’s tensions may want to spin his message their way, especially with one eye on presidential elections in Brazil scheduled for next year.

If journalists aboard the papal plane today were hoping to draw Francis into a discussion of those challenges, they came away disappointed.

Francis walked back to the press compartment shortly after takeoff and spoke for only five minutes, focusing on the risks of a “throwaway society” that neglects both its youth and its elderly.

“I don’t give interviews,” the pope said by way of explanation.

“Why, I don’t know, but I can’t … It’s a little difficult for me, but I’m grateful for your company,” he said.

Yet part of Francis’ charm is that this skittishness didn’t come off as a snub, because the pope proceeded to spend the better part of the next hour standing in the front of the economy cabin of the papal plane to personally greet each of the roughly 70 journalists on board.

Monday afternoon, Francis was scheduled to meet Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the Presidential Palace, and then the 76-year-old pontiff will rest on Tuesday before heading north to the famed Brazilian Marian shrine of Aparecida on Wednesday.

CNN's Barbara Arvanitidis contributed to this report. 

John L. Allen Jr. is CNN’s senior Vatican analyst and a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Brazil • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (594 Responses)
  1. Mopery

    What a shame.

    July 22, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  2. james

    Christian terrorism...

    July 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Tonyblackops

      The victim would be Christian, your hatred and "argument" are invalid.

      July 23, 2013 at 3:25 am |
  3. Jesus Christ Son of God

    It must be god's plan...

    July 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Shawn

      The Pope didn't pray hard enough.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
      • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

        No god has a plan. Don't screw it up with your prayers.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
      • PaulD

        In all fairness, they did find the bomb, so it can be argued that somebody's prayers were answered.

        July 23, 2013 at 12:39 am |
        • Tonyblackops

          An "inconvenient" truth for the militant atheists.

          July 23, 2013 at 3:27 am |
  4. NewBrazil

    Nobody is talking about the 350 million Reais (175 million USD) spend on this ridicules event.

    I'm amazed that just because this is a religious event, people close their eyes. We have people (including babies) starving in the nearby streets while this stupid event is talking place. Shame on you Brazil!!

    This is the reason why we have protests every single day here..

    July 22, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • SuZieCoyote

      This is nothing new for this organization. They have always been this way. Always will be this way.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • PaulD

      Yup, Jesus preferred to have nice-smelling feet to feeding the poor, so why should this surprise anyone?

      July 23, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  5. ug

    No there was not...just lib lies...

    July 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Akira

      Really?

      July 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  6. Toltec1

    So far, I like this man. He seems to be a true person of God. The world sorely needs more leaders like him, regardless of Faith or Religion. Peace

    July 22, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Akira

      I like him, as well.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
      • Oso

        You like how he is the head of an international criminal organization? Goodie for you.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  7. Brazilian

    Most Atheists don't see a thing, Catholic church is already on its free fall to hell. They lost their power and their manipulative system. But what we see down here in Brazil are Atheists are doing crazy rites to show pope they dont like him. IN such a way they are doing the same thing as religion. Some atheists are having the same ways fanatic religious people have.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Dale

      Oh, bull. Troll harder.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • bostontola

      Do you know most atheists? If not, your post is baseless.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • HJ

      @ Brazilian

      fortunately Brazilians are irrelevant primates, and nobody can understand their feral language.

      I hope you evolve into a person soon so you can experience life in a civilized way.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Ken

      Sure, if you consider standing up to religious leaders some kind of "crazy rite"?

      July 23, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  8. Sasha

    Awwwww I really do like him better than the Nazi guy they got rid of.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Donna Coles

      Me too Sasha. It was cool seeing him carry his bags up plane

      July 22, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Why hasn't your new hero released every bit of information the RCC has on pedophile priests and those that continue to protect them?

      July 23, 2013 at 12:51 am |
      • Marc

        Give him some time, the man has only been on the job for four months now, such change doesn't come overnight.

        July 23, 2013 at 1:33 am |
      • HotAirAce

        Tell that to the victims. What's the point of being Pope-A-Dope if you can't do the right thing just by twitching your nose?

        July 23, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  9. bostontola

    As an atheist, I disagree with believers often (although less often with Catholics than evangelicals/fundamentalists). But disagreements in words should never lead to violence. Attempting to inflict violence because you don't like someone's ideas is disgusting.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      From Boston to LA...

      Violence made this world what it today is... Why stop now...?

      July 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
      • bostontola

        lionly,
        I know you are kidding, but to resist a disproportionate response to disagreement usually leads to mutual benefit. Plenty of proof that diplomatic skill benefits all. Sometimes there is no alternative and violence is needed, but that should be the last resort (and you better be prepared to win).

        July 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
        • lionlylamb

          Boston...

          Without violence infringing upon societal upbringing ways, what would kindly be the outcomes if violence was never to be...? How could any society of humane endeavoring ever see things without violence dark sides...? This world has and is and shall most likely always have violence in its bloodlines Boston... Violence is a hard pill to swallow by the detestable lots where personalized freedoms are the cat's meow... We or rather some of us are warrior prone as is the case here in the USA wherever gangster drug lords do fight amongst others, right..? This womanly pope of today is but a shell of a man...

          July 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
        • bostontola

          lionly,
          I agree about the primal nature of man, our ability to agree to resist it has enabled civilization. I don't agree on the pope, I like the guy.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
        • Akira

          "Womanly Pope"?
          Elaborate, please, lionlylamb.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      Thanks for a decent post. bostontola. I'm a Catholic and I ask my God to bless you.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
      • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

        Why do Catholics get such a charge out of Latin ? Like it shows they are special, or know something others don't ?
        Or something means something more if it's done in "oooooooh, it's Latin, the "scared" language".
        We speak English here. Or are you embarrassed about what you have to say, and can't say it in English.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • E of Richmond, VA

      The poster above is atheist. I am a Jew who sees action and social justice as the best virtues of religions, so I applaud this Pope's interest in the poor. However, his choice to tour without the protection of the papal vehicle and its bullet proof glass is over idealism. The bottom line is some people express their views through violence, and that violence can kill. A pope who fails to protect his life is not only risking his life, he is risking that his message will be lost b/c his life will be cut short. Dear Pope, they found a real bomb!, please take appropriate protections for yourself. Know the idea - but live in the real world.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
      • christy

        Exactly, E. This pope is going to get himself killed just by trying to reach out to the poor and not using the necessary protection.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
      • Oso

        Delusional kettle, meet delusional pot
        Neither of you are living in the real world.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Sue

      More and more people are leaving religion in droves. We're winning. Why resort to violence now?

      July 23, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  10. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

    Wonderful to see His Holiness travelling in Latin America. God bless him and guide him in bringing more people back to the Church.
    What a shame people come on here to be negative and disrespectful to such an inspiring man of God. Bless you all I wish you had our Faith – it transforms your life even when things aren't going the way we want them to.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • noillusion

      How arrogant of you to say you wish I had your faith. I would not say to you that I wish you had no faith.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Thought Purification

      keep your faith to yourself; Catholicism – only a mother could love it.

      July 22, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

      Keep your faith in your pants, (which is more than your priests seem to be able to do). God bless you.

      July 23, 2013 at 1:15 am |
  11. brenda

    What a beautiful blessing!

    July 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      I agree Brenda – he's inspirational.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • Oso

        As inspirational as any other con-man. His job is to play Mr.Rogers, put on a sweater and divert your attention away from the bodies in the basement. Creepy inspiration you have there. I'm sure he just SO nice when he is raping someone's kid, too.

        July 23, 2013 at 1:34 am |
  12. KATHLEEN BURGESS

    I wonder if the new Pope could maybe head on over to Russia and get Snowden and deliver him to one of those countries that offered him asylum. They have lots of clout. What nation wouldnt allow a jet with the Pope on board to refuel? Just a thought.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Oso

      I guess you don't have those often?

      July 23, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  13. Ca Sunshine

    Is there any subject on earth that will not bring out arguments? God, humanity has sunken so low.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Well no when it comes to leaders like the Pope. These left leaning Latin American leaders dislike the RCC and they have valid reasons for doing so. Most of these nations are making major advancements. They don't need women having more and more kids. They want their citizens to practice planned parenthood. The RCC's policies are NOT helping these nations.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
      • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

        Emerging countries are the only ones replacing their elderly. THEY will rule the world when America, Russia, China, Europe etc have gone to the wall. Look uo the Demographic Winter – you're already dwindling. In 15 – 20 years your society will be feral!

        The whole WORLD does not revolve around killing defenceless babies!

        July 22, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • .

          Christians in this country get more abortions than all of the other religions and atheists together, at over 80%. Maybe their piety isn't so pious. Save your outrage for them, hmmmmm?

          July 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
        • noillusion

          Who would you be without the 'unbeliever'? I bet you don't know.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
      • LatinAmericanMan

        Do you even live in Latin America? You have no idea what you're talking about. Please don't be so insolent as to try to KNOW what latin americans want... And yes, I'm a Latin American that lives in Latin America.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
        • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

          Wow! That told HIM. Excellent post, Sir.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  14. kingoflimbs

    I am an atheist. I find any attack on any religious leader absolutely deplorable.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      But attacks on non religious leaders are OK? I assume NO, but your post implies that.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
      • Brian

        You're reading too much into the post. They didn't imply anything, other than the fact that they are an Atheist and they find attacks on any religious leaders deplorable. They didn't mention anything about attacks on non-religious leaders. You're doing what many people in the educated community call "Projecting". You wanted them to make that implication, so you suggested that they were.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
      • GATORpride

        You assume too much then...Which is why people like you make commenting on CNN an embarrassment.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
      • huskiemom

        Physical attacks on anyone is deplorable. Quit being mean.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
      • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

        Hey Jazz – Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure!

        July 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
        • Pole dancing for Jesus

          Put another one in the other ear.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          Ooooh, he speaks the Wizard language. Turn some water into wine please, or another magic trick, just like Jebus did.
          You do know that turning water into wine was a common magic trick in Jebus' day.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
        • Oso

          EXPELLIARMUS!!!

          July 23, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Any attack? I guess I will have to stop referring to Pope-A-Dope as a mentally ill, delusional, lying charlatan carrying on his predecessor's tradition of sheltering pedophile priests and their protectors (perhaps even himself?) from criminal charges.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • .

        Now YOU'RE projecting, sport.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Really? I don't have any imaginary friends, I have not assaulted anyone nor am I protecting anyone that did, so you are wrong on several accounts.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • Bob

      Thank you limbs. Nice to see someone with a bit of sense on here.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
      • jazzguitarman

        So it was wrong for Obama to order drones to take out Muslim religious leaders that are ordering the killing of Americans and others? Come on, while at first glance that post sounds 'cool' it really wasn't an intelligent thing to post.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      That's probably because you were raised well. Thank you and I ask my God sincerely to bless you.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
      • Oso

        Your "god" is nothing more than a wish-fulfillment delusion. My turds have more power and authority than your "god".

        July 22, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
        • sjtaylorphoto

          "Give away what you own, go live with lepers."

          Sounds like some serious wish-fulfillment to me there, bro.

          July 23, 2013 at 12:03 am |
        • Oso

          I ain't your bro, pal. You think your shit don't stink, but it does.

          July 23, 2013 at 1:38 am |
  15. Puzzled in Peoria

    First, it was NOT on the Pope's route, and second, it had little destructive power, according to this story.

    Or nonstory.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  16. Ivan

    BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT IS AN ATHEIST AND FORMER TERRORIST . SHE IS GREETING THE POPE JUST TO PRETEND AND USE IT ON HER POLITICAL AGENDA. CERTAINLY THE POPE IS AWARE OF HER GAME.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Athy

      Writing in all caps makes you appear to be childish. Are you childish, Ivan?

      July 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • Ivan

        ARE YOU RETARDED?

        July 22, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Smart people are aware of the Pope's game.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

        You just can.t bear to look at and recognize a very good, genuinely humble man, can you? That is so sad. God bless you.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
        • evolvedDNA

          AD Majorem.. Just wondering how much money was raised by Mother T, and how much of it went to the world class hospitals so evident in India. oh and the residential school issues in Canada, and the Magdalene laundries around the world.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          Mother Teresa was an atheist. Screw you Ad M. God bless you.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
        • Oso

          He's a slimy piece of shit and that is a fact.
          If you want a genuine person, a play-acting fraud is the last place you should look, son.

          July 23, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • Murilo

      Dilma wasn't a terrorist. You don't know brazilian history for to be able to say it. She fought for democracy when Brazil was in a dictatorship, She suffered torture in that age but she got around and became a president.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
      • Ivan

        OH YEA. MURDERER SHE WAS.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      There was a time when Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

      Sorry Sweetheart. She's a Head of State greeting another Head of State.

      And don't shout please – nobody's deaf

      July 22, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
      • Dippy

        And we all prefer to read in normal lower-case.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
      • Ivan

        HEAD OF STATE? WHAT A JOKE. SEE RECENT STREET PROTESTS AND THE NEXT TURMOIL THIS WOMAN WILL FACE.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
        • Dippy

          Turn off your caps lock. Do you know how?

          July 23, 2013 at 12:17 am |
  17. Toggi3

    sjtaylorphoto... How many bombs this last decade have been planted in the name of Atheism? I mean is that an igorant question? Have people been murdered in the name of Carl Sagan or something?

    July 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • sjtaylorphoto

      Not sure about the last decade (to be fair, no atheist bombs that I'm aware of, just a very subtle cultural war that mis-represents religion, pitting the best of science versus the worst of religion....)

      Historically, though, I would suggest looking up the 1920's in Mexico, when secular revolutionaries were bombing the national cathedral in Mexico City and (more disturbingly) slaughtering thousands of Catholics. Read the British novelist Graham Greene's books about that.

      And go look up the Red Terror during the Spanish Civil War, when revolutionaries killed about 7,000 Catholic clergy and even dug them out of their graves and scattered their rotting corpses around streets. Here's the lovely Wikipedia article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Terror_%28Spain%29

      Not saying for a second that all atheists are like that. But please don't tell me that your movement is any more perfect than the horrors perpetrated by the Catholic Church during the Spanish Inquisition. The problem is that the Catholic Church is made up of human beings – just like the atheist movement. And human beings do lousy things, just like Christianity has said from the start.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
      • Toggi3

        There have been movements with large degrees of atheism contained, but I've yet to hear of any significant horrors perpetrated for atheism itself. I've heard of horrors that leverage scientific prejudice, or horrors comitted for the sake of religious opression to more efficiently be a dictatorship, but really, I've never heard of assaults, murders, bombings, for insults to atheism or executions for the doubting of atheism.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
      • Toggi3

        Also fwiw, the red terror as I see it is way more to do with leftist oppressors than atheists per se.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
      • Oso

        Anyone who gets their historical "facts" from a novelist is about as stupid as one could hope for in a gullible mental slave.
        Don't quit your photo job. You don't have what it takes to argue religion with an atheist, son.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
        • sjtaylorphoto

          It's a travel book, anyway, "The Lawless Roads." What's your point? That novelists can't switch over and write good journalism?

          July 22, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  18. Johnny 5

    Did Jesus, Thor, Buddah, Rah, Allah, Zeus or a leprechaun find the bomb?

    July 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  19. sjtaylorphoto

    @ George: the only really aggressive religions in the world today are Militant Islam and Atheism, which are far more based on fear and contempt and money than Catholicism.

    @ Tom: when Atheism and Globalism take over the world, they'll just abort the poor and anybody else they think is inconvenient. They've been doing it for the last 200 years.

    God came to Bethlehem and Nazareth, two dopey little towns – not Rome or Athens or Jerusalem. I think snooty Western elites are still offended by that fact.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • eric

      You abandoned all realism when you mentioned that Atheism is a religion.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
      • usud

        It is a dogma though and sometimes atheists that I know proselytize MORE than my religious friends.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • sjtaylorphoto

        I know many good atheists. I used to be one myself. But certain brands of Atheism certainly rank with the corrupted forms of religion to the extent that they weed out certain facts and seek to enforce their beliefs, sometimes violently, sometimes very intolerantly. And it is *definitely* a belief system. (As in, "I only believe in what I can see and verify, and if I can't perform a laboratory test, well, it probably doesn't exist..." Well, that's a belief.) It also *definitely* labels people as heretics. (Witness the treatment doled out to anybody who believes that there's the slightest shred of evidence against materialist systems, for example that consciousness is not just a bodily function, and that there's clear evidence that something definitely happens to us after we die.... look up the amazing diversity of near-death experience narratives, not just ones from Christians. Atheists generally think that fetuses aren't humans because they're inconvenient. A lot of atheist networks say you're "crazy" if you believe ANY of that – and will drum you out of academic jobs, friendships, and brand you as a hate-mongering cave-dweller if you even entertain the possibility.....

        There's a legit brand of Atheism that asks perfectly legit questions. But like any system of faith, there's also a certain arrogance to it, and brands of it that certainly have an orthodoxy and certainly have heretics. Which (historically) have certainly enforced their beliefs violently.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Etymology: from a- "without" + theos "a god". Perhaps you weren't really an atheist.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
        • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

          SJ, Please keep posting. Your comments are tying these other people in knots!

          July 22, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • evolvedDNA

          What clear evidence do you have to what happens to us after we die? How many folks have come back and told us.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
        • sjtaylorphoto

          @evolvedDNA: it's not concrete "evidence" of an afterlife, but it's certainly pointing toward something tremendously interesting, at least, that several thousand people every year are declared clinically dead and yet are revived, then report having floated out of their bodies and been capable of describing the surgery – or that they went off into some other "realm." People on ayahuasca and other consciousness-altering drugs report similar experiences. To me, the fair position to take is that there's something potentially huge here, not necessarily pointing toward a God but certainly saying something extremely interesting and important about the nature of consciousness. And yet.... a good chunk of the scientific orthodox establishment would laugh me out of the room for even thinking that this is more than the brain reacting to death, that we *might* have something that's been traditionally classified as a soul, whatever that might actually be.

          That's an orthodoxy with heretics, defended for the same reason that the Catholic Church squashed Galileo – for human reasons, to defend careers, investments, personal pride, and reputations, not necessarily in defense of truth or free inquiry.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          It is not a belief system. It's a dismissal of religious claims which have no evidence.
          If it's a belief system, so is the dismissal of the as'sertion there is a 1957 Chevy orbiting Pluto.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
        • sjtaylorphoto

          Atheism and science aren't belief systems, huh? Well, that's a pretty unscientific and unhistorical to hold. Read the history of science much? The history of science is riddled with the most ludicrous mistakes, some of them extremely dangerous. Culture tampers with science all the time, and atheism is a massive reflection of that.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          You obviously have no clue how science works. Science is a method. They admit they don't have the answers yet. Religion says they have the Truth.

          July 23, 2013 at 1:09 am |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          "Several thousand declared clinically dead". No. Prove it. Stats from where ? All tthat proves is the incompetence of the doctors who declare them dead. No one who actually works in a hospital ER or ICU has ever once seen ONE person wake up from the dead. You are full of crap. And why are you people so obsessed with what women do with their privates ? Christians have more abortions than any other group.

          July 23, 2013 at 1:12 am |
      • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

        Atheists have just built the first Atheist church in America! And they CALL it a church! What say you now Einstein?

        July 22, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Dale

      Hey, sjtaylor, you know that Christian women are getting the most abortions, right?? Over 80% are done on Christian women. Another dirty little secret that Christians don't want to talk about, right up there with pedophilia.
      And given the abject poverty of most Muslim nations, of which there is no central church such as Catholicism, your point on the money is total BS. Atheism isn't a religion, either.
      Quit being such a pompous boor.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
      • sjtaylorphoto

        Well, there's people who claim to be Christians just like there's secular atheist Jews who still call themselves Jews. That's a fact. I'm not being vitriolic about it. There's "cultural" Christians just like there's cultural Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics. These are all very culture driven things up to a point. Just because there's Christian women getting abortions doesn't necessarily mean they've really thought the implications of their actions. In any case, Christianity says we're sinners. Naturally, as sinners, we would do bad things. Please stop assuming that Christians are perfect because they call themselves Christians. That's actually Christianity 101.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
        • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

          SJ – What a sensible post. God bless you.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          Do you actually think your Jebus, ("peace be upon him") actually DOES something magical to someone when you say "god bless you" ? Do you actually think you control the lord of the universe with your puny prayers ?

          July 22, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
      • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

        Source or go away. 91% of Atheists suffer from mental defects – Cope.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          "91% of Atheists suffer from mental defects." Source?

          July 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

          Lying for Jebus ? Just like St. Paul.

          July 23, 2013 at 1:18 am |
        • Sue

          Only if you consider rational thinking to be a mental disorder, which some Christians might, I guess.

          July 23, 2013 at 1:18 am |
      • CurmudgeonTx

        Yes, more Christian women in the USA get abortions...but that is because the population of the USA is made up primarily of Christians. If you look at the stats, it is about the same across the board.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
        • jazzguitarman

          Abortion wouldn't be much of an issue for the Christian community IF those in said community didn't have abortions. Only around 10% or so don't believe in some so called 'god' so if only they were having abortions, abortion wouldn't be such a political topic.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
        • Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

          Most are CINO. Hardly proves a thing, eh?

          July 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          CINO. The old no true Scotsman fallacy.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • D'arcy

      I smell a NWO conspiracy theorist here.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Delusional nonsense.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      Atheism is a religion? how can not "believing" in some thing be a religion..

      July 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Sue

      sjtaylorphoto
      Guess you never considered that only the people in dopey little backwater hick towns like those would buy something so incredibly silly.

      July 23, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  20. sonotso

    Regardless of what one thinks of Christianity and organized religion in general; you can't hardly go wrong following his teachings.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • bbcblogger

      Except for his teachings on pedophilia

      July 22, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Johnboy

      Really? Naive much?

      July 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Isn't it silly to assume some book written decades after the events took place (assuming they even took place), is a reflection of 'his teachings'? And why does it matter WHO these teachings came from? I mean there are those that say Shakespeare didn't really write all of the plays attributed to him. Does that change their meanings? NO. So yea there are some nice teachings in many books. Only a fool would limit themselves to certain books because that is what mommy and daddy want.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • jv

        Better to ignore rather than critisize something you dont understand, im sure you have the answer to everything anyway...

        July 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
      • Adam

        You really brought your point home with that "mommy and daddy" part. People respond well to pointless smugness. Nice!

        July 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
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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.