July 27th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Why millennials are leaving the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates - edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions - Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. - precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

Their answers might surprise you.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Opinion

soundoff (9,864 Responses)
  1. Mike

    I'm sure there are a ton of really passionate individuals with well thought out comments and I'm sure there are plenty of trolls. I just want to commend the author of the article. I really enjoyed it because she perfectly articulated my life-long experience with faith. I have always felt faithful, yet been made to believe that that couldn't be true because I fundamentally disagree with many evangelical teachings. So that's definitely one reason I never felt comfortable in the church. To each his own.

    October 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • bananas

      u felt faith?

      don't believe evangelical teachings

      who is jesus?

      November 1, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • rh

      Faith is owned by no religion, not by Christianity, not by Islam, not by Judaism, not by Hinduism, not by Buddhism, not by Sikhism, etc. etc.

      I have very strong faith and am very spiritual. If it makes you feel better, I'm an animist instead of an atheist, or maybe a humanist.

      I would test my morals against any person who is religious. Unfortunately, in a few cases I had to.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:11 am |
  2. Doug

    I'm not implying that I actually believe this stuff, but comparing these differing views within evangelicalism should tell us that many dogmatic claims are falsifiable. The truth is there have been competing theoligical views throughout christian history and one side tries to silence the other. The "winners" are then free to teach ideas to the masses un-opposed.

    October 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  3. Doug

    The fact is the debate has been going on for decades- the debate between dispensationalism and covenant theology. The former is essentially where we see the birth of christian zionism emerge from. You may not have heard much about the debate seeing as the media gives so much coverage to bible prophecy surrounding Israel and all that 1948/1967 stuff- these teachers have a whole tv station at their disposal.

    The point made by covenant theologians is that the messiah intended for people of all nations to become Abraham's seed spirirually via the new covenant, and the bible implies in the following verses that being physically descended from abraham has nothing to do with being God's people:

    In John 8:39 a group of Israelites claims to be God's people via physical descent but Jesus says otherwise

    In Luke 3:8 John the baptist addresses the same group:
    " And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham."

    In Galatians 3:28-29 Paul writes "there is neither Jew nor Greek.... And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise."

    Covenant theology says God's people has nothing to do with race or nation, but everything to do with redemption from a supposed fall in genesis

    Its telling when orthodox evangelical bible believers such as Hank Hannegraaf hold such views and reject sensationalist claims.

    Also New Testament scholar Barbara Rossing has discredited much dispensationalist hype in her book "Rapture Exposed"

    October 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  4. Harlem Knight

    Let's just get rid of religion and move on. We can still have "church", community, compassion, and Christmas. But someday, religion will get us all killed. We know it, and owe it to our kids to start to do what we can to prevent that from happening.

    October 31, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Smarty Pants

      In response to "Let’s just get rid of religion and move on. We can still have “church”, community, compassion, and Christmas. But someday, religion will get us all killed. We know it, and owe it to our kids to start to do what we can to prevent that from happening."

      Jesus did exactly that, and they killed him!

      October 31, 2013 at 9:56 am |
      • Andy


        October 31, 2013 at 9:57 am |
        • Smarty Pants

          Jesus did nothing wrong, hurt no one, in fact healed the sick, befriended the poor, and yet they killed Him in the name of religion. What do you mean, "Huh?"

          October 31, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • lionfou

          Cuz he threatened their turf,
          the same way that Galileo threatened the Church's turf,
          or gay folks,
          or secular humanists,
          or Muslims,
          or people who want women priests.

          Anyone who says "Think for yourself", threatens their turf.

          Who are "they"?
          The ones who don't want you to listen to you.

          "Well I try so hard
          to be just like I am
          but everybody wants me
          to be just like them.
          They say 'Sing while you slave' and I just get bored.
          Well I ain't gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more."

          –Dylan, one of his favorite songs for both Clinton and Obama.

          October 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • Dwight


          October 31, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • lionfou

          It's the whole ball of wax, Dwight, you seriously don't get it?

          October 31, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • Dwight

          Doctrine I get. "STOP being conformed to this world. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will know what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans12:2)

          That I get. Dylan? I don't. He doesn't speak for me. He doesn't know the will of God.

          October 31, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • lionfou

          Dylan doesn't know the Will of God?


          There's nothing to say to that. Dead lost. Absolutely dead lost.

          October 31, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • Dwight

          "Dylan doesn’t know the Will of God? Oh…..my…..Lord….. There’s nothing to say to that. Dead lost. Absolutely dead lost."

          Now obviously, I can't know Dylan's heart, or yours, but from what I hear, yes, absolutely, he does not know the will of God? Do you? What do you say is the will of God? What is the "mystery of the gospel" for which Paul seeks prayer to speak boldly? What are the "unsearchable riches of Christ"?

          October 31, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
        • lionfou

          According to JC, Paul and John, the will of God is simply love in action.

          You get more complicated than that, and the head has a tendency to get stuck up the butt.

          Listen to "Blowing in the Wind", and tell me you don't hear God talking.

          If you don't, I'm outta here. Waste of time.

          October 31, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • Dwight

          lionfiu said, "According to JC, Paul and John, the will of God is simply love in action."

          What kind of love? Everybody 'group hug' kind of love? Tenderhearted sweetheart kind of love? Good Samaritan kind of love? Father son kind of love? Self-sacrifice kind of love? What then?

          What action? What are we to do and when are we to do it? Is that what you think scripture is all about? Mend each others' physical and emotional wounds? Rest on Sundays? Vote conservative republican? Be straight? Leave blog comments about Bob Dylan's lyrics? Take a bullet for a friend kind of action? Exactly what action should we take to be doing the will of God?

          Why is the will of God "simply" something? If it is so simply, why isn't the New Testament a single sentence instead of a compilation of books and letters?

          I regret you didn't answer the question, lionfou, you only raised more.

          Even JC didn't finish telling His disciples everything. He wanted to tell them, but they weren't ready. Why weren't they ready? How would they ever hear more? The Spirit of Truth had to come. The Spirit of Truth had to lead them into all truth. After being with JC for three years, it still wasn't enough. The Spirit of Truth had to take over. So, no JC did not tell us the complete will of God. He couldn't. No one was ready for it yet.

          "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:12-13)

          JC was moved when He saw Israel not knowing what to do. Did He teach them one thing, that love in action is what it's all about? No! He taught them many things!

          When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)

          Paul went way beyond what was "simple" and told us about a revelation that had never been revealed before. Paul also told the saints of various churches that there was the "milk of the word" on which infants or children nourished, and there was the "meat of the word" for the mature believer. He knew children weren't going to 'get' this revelation, it was specifically for the mature believer. Did Paul simply say that God's will was love in action? Absolutely not! And real I'm glad! That's barely scratching the surface. Truth, on the hand, is deep. Consider these verses...

          "...the mystery was made known to me by revelation..." Eph 3:3
          "...[the mystery] was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed...by the Spirit" Eph 3:5
          "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom..." 1 Cor 2:6
          "Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power." (Eph 3:7)
          ...and SO much more!

          Paul was primarily given this revelation, this "mystery of the gospel," also known as the "mystery of Christ," and is charged for its delivery, made a minister, to make "the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God" plain to everyone. Eph 3:9.

          There are many, many things Paul teaches which are for the spiritually mature, not babes in Christ. Babes in Christ say, "Love others as you would have them love you." And this is good. But it barely scratches the surface of God's eternal plan, and the depths of His will for us who believe.

          So, no, I do not care for the lyrics of Bob Dylan. If you must depart, so be it. Fare thee well! Think I am lost. That is fine.

          But note this, lionfou, it was not to you I was writing just now. I know you're not interested in these things, and I don't expect to persuade you to change your mind, not even a smidgen.

          I wrote to those who would read this and hope for more, because there IS more. Spend time in the book of Romans. Seek and pray to understand full well what is both the good news of the gospel and the bad news that requires it. Why are we lost? How did we get lost? Why do we need to be saved? What does 'saved' mean?

          This is going to take a little faith and lot more humility than what I've read in these blog comments. But, I believe you will know God is drawing you to Him. Don't give up your mind either! Faith is anything but brainless. Heaven forbid! Use your mind, ask questions, dig deep, press hard for answers, and don't give up easy.

          Ask and you shall receive.
          Seek and you shall find.
          Knock and it will be opened to you.

          If you do not ask, you will not receive. Simple as that. If you say 'give me proof' it will flee from you. Seek diligently and God will reward you.

          "...whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." Heb 11:6

          It does say that you "must believe that He exists" to everyone, but only to those who "would draw neat to God."

          If you'd like to discuss any of this with me offline, I'm going to give my personal email address again and invite you do so. I'd love to hear from you, especially if you are a seeker, at dwight_usa@yahoo.com. Thanks and God bless!

          October 31, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
        • lionfou

          Perhaps Martin Luther King said it best: "I can't like someone who bombs my house. But I have to love him."

          And Paul's famous passage about love, I should memorize it. it's popular at weddings. Really nails it.

          I think Paul would be ap-palled to find out that people regarded every word he wrote as scripture, including "Wives be subservient to you husbands", "slaves, be subservient to your masters" and "I will not suffer a woman to teach, or to have authority over a man."

          The New Testament is fantastic. The Bhagavad Gita goes much deeper in some areas. And in the end, the journey inside to heaven, and outside to bring it to earth, is your journey alone.

          "And though the masters make the rules
          for the wise ones and the fools,
          I got nothin', Ma
          to live up to."

          –Gospel According to Bob

          "Be not conformed to this world."–including the churches.

          "The ashram protects man from the world.
          Man must protect himself from the ashram (or church)."

          October 31, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
        • Dwight

          "It’s the whole ball of wax, Dwight, you seriously don’t get it?"

          No, I don't get what your talking about, but I do know this for certain – it's neither the gospel nor the mystery of the gospel. So, I hope it's not "the whole ball of wax" because my hopes are set on something much greater.

          October 31, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  5. joe222

    They leave the church for two perspectives:

    1. One perspective: If the church is correctly exegeting the scripture, they leave because they do not want to be challenged for the sin that is in their life that they do not want to abandon, so they leave to find a church that will "tickle their ears" and abandon sound doctrine.

    2. The other perspective: The "milliennials" are soundly saved in Jesus Christ, they seek spiritual nourishment and meat. However, the church is seeker sensitive and the church does not correctly exegete scripture, the church starves the sheep to feed the goats, the church seeks to entertain rather than to teach sound doctrine, the church refuses to understand that the church is for believers (unbelievers are welcome, but the primary focus of church is to feed the sheep), and is more concerned with its stadium seating and 100,000 W sound system and light show.

    Narrow is the gate, and only a few find it.

    October 31, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Doug

      The thing is many evangelicals already believe in multiple gods, they just don't realize it. Compare the violence of martin luther to the god Jonathan Edwards worshipped to the god CS Lewis believed in. If all christian leaders of history were ressurected and saw each other along with modern evangelicals we'd have a heck of a brawl on our hands.

      Many evangelicals agree on "essential" doctrine but Iin reality believe in different gods who vary wiith denomination, time, and individuals – they just happen to call him by the same name.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Darren

      How about: They leave church because they are not christian.

      October 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • Observer

        How about: they leave the church because they have ACTUALLY read the Bible?

        October 31, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • Doug

          Yes. People have read the bible cover to cover, many are essentially told to read it with preconcieved doctrines in mind.

          For example, I could point out specific verses from the new testament that contradict the whole doctrine of Israel being God's chosen nation and subsequently disprove much bible prophecy hype surrounding the issue.

          Or this- the word God in Genesis 1 is translated "yahweh elohim" which is plural. They say that means the trinity, because they already were told to believe in it or else.

          But if the writer of Genesis never heard of the trinity why would he refer to god as plural?

          At that point they tell you to stop asking questions or that God is above us.

          October 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • Dwight

          "I could point out specific verses from the new testament that contradict the whole doctrine of Israel being God’s chosen nation and subsequently disprove much bible prophecy hype surrounding the issue."

          You're on!! I would love a challenge involving real scripture! One or two phrases or verses at a time, though, okay? Let's make this a reasonable debate. Thanks!

          October 31, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
        • Truth

          Psalms 83:18 in the old King James Bible will steer you in the right direction on the trinity.

          November 1, 2013 at 12:08 am |
  6. Doug

    Horray for the Red Sox! Happy Halloween everybody....

    October 31, 2013 at 5:37 am |
    • Paul

      Happy Reformation Day everybody!


      October 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
      • Doug

        Horray for reformation day!

        Starring....Martin Luther, the man whose church leadership ideals involved burning down synagauges and burning books as well.

        October 31, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • Jaws

          Yeah, Martin Luther... like 2,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea - a good start!

          He had some valid gripes against the Church. He should have gone all the way in uncovering the rest of the superst-itions and fantasies of Christianity (and Judaism) to the point of leaving them claimless.

          November 1, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  7. Jumbuck

    I enjoyed this article and think it raises some good points of contention that should not be ignored nor shied away from. This larger issue from within this article is speaking is the consumerism of churchgoing.

    Churches are changing their products to attract individuals when, in all reality, a church’s beliefs and standpoints are going to be the church’s beliefs and standpoints, regardless of how they look, not changing the substance (as stated in the article).
    On the other side, all that happens when people want to attend a church is the migration from church to church until they find “the one” they like best. All that’s really going on is an individual keeps searching for a group of people that think the same way they do, therefore negating any real objectiveness religion is supposed to impart. This is a fallacy of a gigantic proportion they very few are talking about.

    October 31, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Andy


      October 31, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  8. Bootyfunk

    Apollo was a sun-god and he fought and conquered the serpent of night. Baldur was a sun-god. He was in love with the Dawn - a maiden. Chrishna was a sun-god. At his birth the Ganges was thrilled from its source to the sea, and all the trees, the dead as well as the living, burst into leaf and bud and flower. Hercules was a sun-god and so was Samson, whose strength was in his hair - that is to say, in his beams. He was shorn of his strength by Delilah, the shadow - the darkness. Osiris, Bacchus, and Mithra, Hermes, Buddha, and Quetzalcoatl, Prometheus, Zoroaster, and Perseus, Cadom, Lao-tsze, Fo-hi, Horus and Rameses, were all sun-gods.

    All of these gods had gods for fathers and their mothers were virgins. The births of nearly all were announced by stars, celebrated by celestial music, and voices declared that a blessing had come to the poor world. All of these gods were born in humble places - in caves, under trees, in common inns, and tyrants sought to kill them all when they were babes. All of these sun-gods were born at the winter solstice - on Christmas. Nearly all were worshiped by "wise men." All of them fasted for forty days - all of them taught in parables - all of them wrought miracles - all met with a violent death, and all rose from the dead.
    The history of these gods is the exact history of Christ.

    October 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      And, all of your post is bull feathers.

      October 30, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • lionfou

        Actually not bullfeathers at all,
        though perhaps oversimplified.

        If you google around world mythologies, or read Joseph Campbell or The Golden Bough, you'll see that the birth of the sun (Dec. 25, when the solstice is over and the sun starts returning), and the rebirth in spring, are old, old mythologies.

        Easter is the first sabbath after the first full moon of spring–a traditional date for celebration of having survived the winter, and the return of the flesh after death.

        Do some research before insulting sincere people and bearing false witness–I assure you, if you start acting like a Christian, no one will object. "By their fruits you will know them."

        Nobility of character, embodying the Gospel, doesn't come from a book. It comes from YOU (or the Holy Spirit in you–and sometimes atheists are more filled with the Holy Spirit than millions of the religious. It's not belief–it's PRACTICE.)

        All the best.

        October 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
        • bs alert

          check the wikipedia pages on the gods he listed... none of them were born of virgins/announced by stars/resurrected.

          October 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
        • lionfou

          One of the most interesting parallels is with Osiris, as described in "The Pagan Christ" by Tom Harpur, Anglican priest, Rhodes Scholar.

          One story that is only in John, is Lazarus. And much of it is word for word from the Egyptian, according to Harpur. From the town name (Bethany...Beth means "place of", anu means to return from nothingness (nu) in Egyptian. U and Y are the same letters in Greek. And Meru in Egyptian, Mary in English. Osiris/Azar and Lazarus (L meaning "the"). And word for word, "He is only sleeping" (Jesus about Lazarus, Horus about Osiris). On and on......

          So a lifelong Biblical scholar goes into depth on all this. His take is, it doesn't matter if the Jesus story is original–it is not. Or even if it's literally true. It, like all mythologies, is a metaphor for the inner journey WE can take, to heaven.

          Campbell calls mythology "other people's religion." Meaning MY religion is true, yours is just a mythology.

          The gospels that talked about the inner journey (like the Gospel of Thomas) were suppressed in the first centuries of the Church. They didn't want you spiritually independent, they wanted you to think the Savior and God were outside you, and you needed them and their approved 27 book scripture (28?).

          You know that by the fourth century, they hadn't even decided if Revelations belonged in the Bible? I think it was a horrible mistake to put it in. Much too violent to be associated with Jesus, and makes people future trippers instead of "the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

          Mythology–a map of the inner voyage, or inner rebirth from the dead–all of us can find Real Life. And religion has nothing to do with it. The master teachings of Jesus, Krishna, Lao-tzu–are to be PRACTICED. What you believe, pie in the sky when you die, bearded patriarchs in the sky, virgin births (that's another metaphor, born from the pure and true part of you instead of worldly motives)–all irrelevant.

          What is relevant?
          Are you happy?
          Do you love life and its trillion players?

          "I came that you might have life,
          and have it more abundantly."

          October 30, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • mike

      Jesus wasn't born in December. That is something that came from the pagan converts into Christianity early on. In an effort to woo and convert pagans several 'festivals' were allowed, even incorporated.

      October 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  9. Doug

    If anything this should at least cause us to question the theological claims of christianity. And by christianity I don't mean the love god, love your neighbor help the poor type. If that's all the bible said the world would be different.

    Bottom line is, we can at least take some of the absolutist claims of evangelicalism and say "hey, it might not be true". The problem is that people are taught from childhood to believe things and never question them. Life involves questioning and learning. Every scientific disvovery was made when people questioned religious authority – that at least should tell us something about the power of free thinking.

    October 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Paul

      "Every scientific disvovery was made when people questioned religious authority."

      That's not true. If, by chance, you're thinking of Galileo, then he wasn't questioning religious authority. He was questioning the scientific community. Geocentrism was the prevailing scientific theory of his day. The church of that time just happened to agree with the scientific community. So your claim "Every scientific disvovery was made when people questioned religious authority" is clearly false.

      October 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
      • Doug

        I guess that was a bit presumptuous of me. But it doesn't negate the principles of science itself- testing theories and weighing evidence to come to conclusions. Christianity involves essentially the opposite- one starts with a conclusion and works backwards to justify it and being closed to any level of evidence that falsifies the initial conclusion.

        For example, it could theoretically be possible that God exists and wants us all to forget religious division and work towards world peace. But evangelicalism says "no that can't be true because the bible says thats from the antichrist, and I'll go to hell if I believe it"

        October 30, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
        • Doug

          And getting back to your earlier comment, what would you say if I said there were muslims in the senate? They just happen to be invisible, beyond time, and impossible to percieve via senses and they always existed. And if you don't believe in them they'll torture you for eternity. Now try proving there are no muslims in the senate under those conditions. See how it is?

          October 30, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
      • Paul

        If you made that claim, the burden of proof is on you, not me.

        October 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
  10. Doug

    I guess I should rephrase it:

    Atheism essentially is saying for all practicality, God doesn't exist. I didn't fully understand it until I listened to proponents if New Atheism, namely physicist Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins author of The God Delusion.

    Its not that we're trying to prove God doesn't exist, its the fact that God's existence is not capable of being disproved any more than a man can disprove the existence of flying unicorns- if of course those unicorns are invisible, beyond timr and space, and put people in hell for disagreeing with them

    October 30, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  11. Doug

    I say we let everyone freely study all denominations, in history and how views of god evolved, see their incompatability, and decide for themselves. It shouldn't take an Oxford professor to point out that these different views are simply a reflection of the god people wanted to believe in based on their preception of love and justice.

    Many people do not understand atheism. Because it is impossible to prove something doesn't exist, any proposed belief about God is theorhetically possible. For example, a pentecostal christian in arkansas does not likely believe in the same god as a catholic from new england. I might find one god more favorable, but that alone does not mean he actually exists.

    My point is the entire history of christianity is a zeitgeist progression of theology. Google "zeitgeist movie" and you'll see what I mean

    October 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • lionfou

      And yet God and religion are two totally different things.

      Whether there is an eco-system of mind, one Mind inhabiting the whole universe, is a matter for scientific investigation.

      Do we have practical access to a far more accurate Intelligence that produces results that defy probability? Measurably?

      Is there, in fact, at the core of our consciousness, an endless "bliss" when we get free of delusion and entanglement–that is endlessly generous both to and through us to others.

      Can we consciously direct "subtle energies" with the mind, for healing and other positive purposes?

      Higher mind, higher fulfillment not dependent on anything, and higher powers.

      Call it God or bananafish, the proof's in the pudding.

      All the shamanic traditions of thousands of cultures have laid out practical ways to attain these 3.

      It's time for scientific rigor that transcends all cultures and religions, and opens science to a revolution equal to Newton and Copernicus, Einstein and Oppenheimer–to another level of undiscovered Power.

      Opinions one way or the other about God, are not practical, repeatable knowledge.

      Having practiced that Ecstasy all my life, and coming from a family where intuitive knowing from no earthly source–from precognition to telepathy–is quite normal–and having often experienced rapid healing with no physical medicine (haven't had an aspirin in over 40 years)–this stuff is completely real-world non-dogmatic proof's-in-the-pudding stuff.

      There is belief, and there is knowledge.

      To me, Jesus was all about APPLIED belief, to produce so-called "miracles".
      Religious folks have tended to be all about the former.

      "By their fruits you will know them."
      No Pope ever walked on the moon.
      A scientist did.

      October 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Paul

      " Because it is impossible to prove something doesn't exist.."

      That's not true. People make and prove universal negative claims all the time. No T-Rex are alive. No muslims are in the U.S. Senate. The statement "it is impossible to prove something doesn't exist" is usually made by atheists that don't want to provide burden of proof for their claim "God does not exist."

      "My point is the entire history of christianity is a zeitgeist progression of theology. Google "zeitgeist movie" and you'll see what I mean."

      The Zeitgeist Movie is nothing but conspiracy propaganda.

      October 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
      • Doug

        Nobody is claiming t rexs are alive (although some christians think people walked with them) and nobody is saying there are muslims in the senate- the point is when a person makes truth claims the burden of proof is upon them.

        If someone told people that eating a new brand of ice cream will make them invisible or that leaprachauns affect the trends on wall street nobody would believe it.

        Yet tell people that they will end up in an eternal torture chamber for not believing in the trinity and people believe.

        The problem is evangelical christianity teaches us to shut off our minds and be satisfied with not understanding things.

        October 30, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
        • Paul

          You seemed to have missed the point. You claimed that "it is impossible to prove something doesn't exist" and I showed you that is not true by showing you that you CAN prove that no T-Rex are alive and that there are no muslims in the U.S. Senate.
          My point is that since you CAN prove something doesn't exist, then someone who makes the claim "There is no god" needs to provide proof.

          "The problem is evangelical christianity teaches us to shut off our minds and be satisfied with not understanding things."

          That's not true. The Bible says to "love God with all your mind." Being a Christian doesn't mean checking your brain at the door.

          October 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • Observer


          MegaGod creates universes whenever he feels like it. He then creates gods to manage them.

          Prove MegaGod doesn't exist.

          October 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
        • Paul

          I made no such claim. Thus, the onus in not on me to prove it. The burden of proof in on the one who makes a claim.

          October 30, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
        • Observer


          "@Observer, I made no such claim. Thus, the onus in not on me to prove it. The burden of proof in on the one who makes a claim."

          I'm sorry. I thought you've been claiming God exists. Now would have had to prove it since "the burden of proof in on the one who makes a claim."

          October 30, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
        • Paul

          Follow the discussion. You said this:

          "MegaGod creates universes whenever he feels like it. He then creates gods to manage them.

          Prove MegaGod doesn't exist."

          I did not say it. If you made that claim, the burden of proof is on you.

          October 31, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
        • Observer


          Do you claim that God exists? Yes or no?

          If the answer is "yes", then as you said "the burden of proof in on the one who makes a claim."

          So does God exist?

          November 1, 2013 at 12:51 am |
      • 2d6plus8

        You cannot prove that T-Rex's are not still alive today. You can provide a high degree of certainty that they aren't using rational arguments and evidence but it can never be proven. Additionally, most atheists do not claim that there is no god. They claim that they are without belief in god. There is a subtle but distinct difference between the two. The former would be claimed by a gnostic atheist who fells that they are absolute in their knowledge. The latter by an agnostic atheist who only believes in what he can know but recognizes that this knowledge is not absolute. Agnosticism is a statement about knowledge while atheism is a statement about belief. The spectrum being gnostic atheist, agnostic atheist, agnostic theist, gnostic theist. I have never met a gnostic atheist.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • Paul

          "You cannot prove that T-Rex's are not still alive today."

          You missed the point. My point was you CAN prove a negative. No S are P. It's basic Aristoletian logic.

          October 31, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  12. Kimberly

    No one noes where they went? There was a mike, too. He vanished shortly after he never said what pigs athies were, but he sure didn't like faith. No one remembers, even sweet snake, our bound for prison black mamba?

    October 30, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  13. Kimberly

    U no. The ones alqaeda praises and expresses her deepest sorrow for? Observer, u remember, surely. U agreed with them about vile xtards posting arguments u ran from.

    October 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  14. Kimberly

    Has anybody seen Meredith s? Or Jeremy? U no, the Christians who despise Christians who tell athies to shove it.

    October 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  15. Doug

    I used to be evangelical until I realized there were already at least a dozen or so sects/denominations that believed I was going to hell anyway, and I said to myself 'why not just take it one denomination farther?'

    Maybe its time we all just get over the God delusion- we've given it all if history and it still hasn't worked

    October 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Kimberly

    So. Point being, I'm thinking, r u seriously suggesting god don't exist? What is wrong with u? We must end all xtards! Today!

    October 30, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Keith

      Yes, I am an atheist. God does not make any sort of logical sense. The notion of a conscience being existing outside of time and space removes all the prerequisites for existence. However, while I would argue that a divine being does not exist, I don't see believing in a divine being as a moral wrong. My issue is with organized religion and it's clear tendency to oppress or harm those with whom it disagrees with and for committing, condoning or covering up evil acts that it or it's members commit for its own self interest under the disguise of divinely revealed truth.

      Furthermore, instead of trying to argue against my points, you simply choose to call for my silence. For shame!

      October 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  17. Keith

    "we’re leaving the church because we don't find Jesus there.."

    If I could speak for some of those in my demographic, many of us don't find morality or rationality there. We see increasingly how religion in general hinders social and scientific process. Let's look at some numbers. PewResearch shows that in the 18-29 age group, about one out of three people (32%) identify as having no religious affiliation (be it atheism or agnosticism or deism). Of that demographic, 88% say they are not looking for a religion that's right for them. That age group has the largest number of those not affiliated with religion and it is also growing more religiously unaffiliated faster than any other age demographic. Clearly, not everyone who leaves your sect of Christianity is going off to a different one. And if I could speak personally, the idea that the catholic church is a morally better alternative would be laughable if not for the atrocities committed by the Vatican including (but certainly not limited to) the child molestation scandal and it's cover-up, the spread of HIV through the condemnation of contraception, the persecution of Jewish people, the forced conversion of indigenous people, for silence during Hitler's final solution, and for injustices against women.

    October 30, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  18. jimd

    Jesus said the world will hate you if you love Jesus. Welcome to the world.

    October 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • reiz45


      October 28, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • lionfou

        The world may not hate you if you love Jesus, but they might if you're a pretentious, arrogant, judgmental, self-absorbed buffoon who doesn't listen respectfully to others or hear Jesus in THEM talking to you.

        October 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • Will

          The world may not hate you if you love Jesus, but they might if you're a pretentious, arrogant, judgmental, self-absorbed buffoon who carries on with delusions of oppression.

          October 28, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
    • Smarty Pants

      Amen! And if the world does not hate you, check to see where your devotions really lie. All this because the world hated Him first. I believe people would kill him today even faster today than they did 2000 years ago, or write him off as a loony and put Him away.

      October 29, 2013 at 6:35 am |
      • lionfou

        Well, since virtually no one practices real Christianity,
        as in "Love your enemies, do good those who hate you",
        as in "Judge not, get the log out of your own eye"
        as in "Lay not up treasures upon the earth",
        as in "If you pay trillions for weapons and zilch for hungry kids, you ain't no Christian" (liberal translation :),
        then you don't need to worry about the world being against you for being Christians,
        only for being dogmatic irrational judgmental types.

        "I have nothing against Christianity. I just think it's never been tried."
        –GB Shaw, most successful playwright since Shakespeare.

        October 29, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Applaud Aloud

      I do agree that most of the world is not practicing Christianity BUT that does not have to stop you from doing it. Does it? There is a gospel and the tents are in the creed. They are not complicated and you recited many of them (Love your neighbor, do not judge, do not hate,sow love; peace ...Pacem). You do not even need an old testament .. the gospel, Acts and a creed (all free on the Internet). Many of us are unaffiliated Christians and that IS what the BLOG article is about. (Leaving churches is not abandoning faith .. churches are ALL apostate . they got lost). You do not have to be lost. Just do what you are preaching and faith will be there.

      October 29, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
      • Applaud Aloud

        tenets are in the creed..
        I believe in
        God, the Creator (Cause)
        I believe in Jesus Christ (you just recited most of what he taught
        the Holy Spirit (when you have the Spirit .. you do not hate, judge, war, etc.)
        born of Mary.
        He suffered under Roman death sentence,
        was crucified, died, and was buried.
        was dead.
        rose again.
        ascended (did not die again)
        he is the judge .. we are not the judge
        He will come again to judge the living and the dead.3
        I believe in Holy Spiri
        the Church (when it is not apostate)
        the community of Christian
        the forgiveness of sin
        the resurrection of man
        and life everlasting
        THOSE ARE THE TENETS; that's it. Don't have to read anything, join anything, donate to anything, kiss any rings (or other parts), don't need sacraments, don't need to recite anything, submit to anything, cow tow to anything ..
        If you want to LEARN about Faith - HOPE - LOVE see the movie the named "the Impossible" Naomi Watts (woman never gives up hope, has faith, courage and motivated by love .. no mention of a church, no guns, no politics, no fire and brimstone, no flags, no money ... nothing BUT faith and hop and courage .. excellent starting place for anyone ... start there and build upward.. the sky is the limit!

        October 29, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  19. Mike

    Because they realize an imaginary ghost in the sky is simply an old school control mechanism for the masses of ignorant sheep. It's about time....

    October 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • reiz45

      Have fun in hell. I would suggest you go to Church!

      October 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
      • lionfou

        Hell? A person who loves has no fear of hell.

        "Perfect love casts out fear.....One who loves is born of God and knows God"–including atheists!

        When "Christian" Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they slaughtered 40,000 civilians.

        When Saladin conquered it back in 1187, he told his soldiers to spare civilians, "to teach a lesson".

        When a Muslim general has to teach Christians how to be Christians, that tells you something. God is not fooled, and "by their fruits you will know them." "Faith without works is dead."

        No one who loves can ever live in hell. Only judgmental fools like you.

        October 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
        • Truebeliever

          "Cherry-picking" As I have said in one of my very early comments on this publication people pick and choose what they want to believe in order to fit their personal ideology rather than obey what God says in His publication, the Bible. Throughout most responses, this is what I continue to see but people are so arrogant to don't look beyond their own selfish purposes but only develop their own personal religion that makes them feel most comfortable.

          October 29, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • lionfou

          You're speaking of yourself, of course. "Projection" is omnipresent among the dogmatic "Christians". They see a war against them, when THEY are at war with humanity. They see a "war on marriage", when they're the only ones fighting others' marriages. They see cherry-picking, which they do all the time, with lines like "slaves be subservient to your masters" and "you MUST kill your child if they get in a bad mood and curse you" and "it's OK to sell your daughter into slavery."

          In the case of discriminating, intelligent people, it's obvious that some words in the Bible are holy and righteous and useful,
          and some are leftovers from a patriarchal, racist, primitive society–and one MUST use the Logos, the REAL son/daughter of God inside us (John 1), to make clear distinctions.

          Anyone who does not trust that inner light, knows nothing of God. They're in a cult, forfeiting their God-given intelligence and morality.

          And that ain't the way to heaven.

          October 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • Will

          Your "god" never made any publication of the bible. It was all written by men. In fact the bible has had more writters and remixes than a bad rap song. Even if one were to floow your bible to the letter, such a follower would (and should) be locked away in maximum security awaiting execution.

          October 30, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • Truebeliever

          You exemplify my point on cherry picking perfectly.The Bible is the Word of God written through divinely directed men. God can work that way as the creator of the universe. In rebellion, you choose what you want to believe. Rather than obey what the God of the universe tells you choose the satanic lie. I don't mean this in anger or hostility to you.

          October 30, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • Check


          You "cherry pick" too, unless you believe these "words from 'God'" in your Bible:

          – You cure leprosy by having a dove killed, dipping a live one in its blood and having it fly around. Also, you have to anoint the toes of the suffer with the blood.–Leviticus 14

          – You discover unfaithful wives when their bellies swell and their thighs rot after they are made to drink some magical water. – Numbers 5

          – Prized striped goats are bred by having the mating parents stare at striped objects. –Genesis 30

          – You may buy, own, sell, and will slaves to your descendants (only foreigners for slaves, though, no Israelis) –Leviticus 25

          - If a wife grabs the testicles of her husband's enemy, she shall have her hand cut off. Deuteronomy 25

          There are several other similar instances of absolute rubbish that this "God" allegedly "spoke", along with a bunch of other rules and laws that are obviously only from the minds of primitive men. How anyone can believe that this stuff came from a real smart divine being is ludicrous.

          October 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • Observer


          Why did you cherry-pick the Bible and choose to ignore the specfic verses that Check mentioned?

          October 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
      • leibowde84

        People like you are why so many millennial are leaving the Church. If there is definitely one thing that is, without a doubt, true, it is that you have no clue or even the ability to understand who is going to hell and who is going to heaven. If you are foolish enough to think this simply because the Bible informs you ... you have a very ignorant view of Jesus' teachings. Never use "the Word" to condemn others or show others that they aren't as cool as you.

        October 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm |

    Because it's time to leave the Church, and truly find Jesus Christ here now!


    October 28, 2013 at 5:12 am |
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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.