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. iain Stephenson

    Interesting article. Some good points. But am I alone in wishing that just for once someone would write about something other than what they want from "the church". Maybe something about what they as part of the church, that includes all generations, are doing for it, to make it an authentic community of God.

    December 23, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  2. Keith

    The first time they told me it was a mystery, my Bull Chit meter rang so loud I had to leave the building.

    December 21, 2013 at 5:06 am |
  3. James

    I offer no opinion, I offer truth. I share with you in Love where I found peace. Look and seek within to have joy, peace an understanding of our purpose in life and that is a personal relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ. I am a product of the Happy Days and Hippie Days. I fully understand where all of you are coming from. Each generation in the past has dealt with the same questions. I prayerfully suggest reading the book of John in the Bible about the life of Christ, and ask yourself this question. Are there any teachings of Christ that is not your personal desire ? I hope this generation will continue to question the teachings of man. Seek the Hope that lies within all of us. You may find the answer is not academic. The 10 commandments most of us are acquainted with has been condensed into two. Love The Lord thy God with all thy heart, sole, body and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. My intention is to share where I found peace and joy. A friend to the generations that desire answers that lie within all of us.

    Viewing the Standard King James Version (Pure Cambridge). Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of John Chapter 3

    1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

    2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

    3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

    5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

    6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

    7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

    10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

    11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

    12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

    13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

    14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

    Jesus and Nicodemus
    John Chapter 3 : 14
    15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

    18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

    20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

    21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

    23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

    24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

    25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

    26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

    27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

    28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

    29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

    30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

    31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

    32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

    33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

    34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

    35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

    36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    December 20, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Keith

      You are as full of crap as the rest of them

      December 21, 2013 at 5:01 am |
      • joshtheapologist

        I could reciprocate, seeing as you are intrinsically "full of" arrogance, assumptions, superiority complexes, and the illusion of knowledge, similar to Richard Dawkins.

        January 15, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
        • boogysattva

          Dawkins believes in material reality, while Einstein said, "There is no matter."

          January 15, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
        • joshtheapologist

          I am not discussing points of view, I am simply answering the apparent self-confidence this person exhibited, much like Dawkins.

          January 15, 2014 at 7:51 pm |
        • Keith

          Richard Dawkins is a fool, he believes science explains every thing and he is stupid enough to believe that arguing with Christians will accomplish something.

          I speak from my personal experience, I make no assumptions. I studied comparative religion for 8 years trying to heal from my "Christian" raising. I found out that you are all idiots and that none of you even understand the basis of your religions. It seems that faith replaces education and reason for all the faithful.

          Reciprocate if you choose, but I know who the imbecile is.

          January 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          I am an idiot? I suppose William Lane Craig, John Lennox, Copernicus, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, Sir Robert Boyd, and countless other Christian thinkers are idiots as well, and only atheism is the 'intelligent' group of people. I don't know the basis of my faith? Please explain this to my lifelong study of Christianity along with scientific thinking, faith isn't the replacing factor of education, it is the help of education. And quite honestly, I think we all know who the real imbecile is, and, it doesn't appear to be me.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
        • Keith

          delusions are hard to break, good luck to you. By the way, religion never helped any of those scientists. A "Christian Thinker" is a oxymoron.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Religion never helped these men? Well, they did their studies with God in mind, so yes, it did help them to rationalize their discoveries with doctrine. There is a growing number of Christian philosophers today, which basically insinuates they are thinkers. So a Christian thinker isn't an oxymoron, it is just common.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          And I have been trying to break the atheist delusion for many years now, as it unfortunately has blinded many people into the mentality of chance, which has we all know, has a probability of a ridiculously high number to zero.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
        • boogysattva

          One obvious hint at a Higher Intelligence, stares us in the face every day and night.

          There are precisely two large lights in the sky. They are totally different sizes, and totally different distances,
          and yet they perfectly cancel each other out so they look like the same size, and the moon can eclipse the sun.

          Odds against that? Astronomical.
          Yeah, and if you hit me in the arm and an hour later I get a bruise, it's just a coincidence.
          I would have gotten a bruise anyway, right?

          January 15, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
        • Dan

          But they don't cancel each other out. Most of the time, they eclipse only partly. When they are actually in alignment, which is relatively rare, the moon doesn't totally cover the sun – in fact, it covers it just enough that the brain doesn't constrict the pupils and the act of looking causes eye damage. Plus, the distance between Earth and the moon is not constant – it grows more distant, less "canceling" every year. If the moon was not captured, it follows that the moon quite overlapped the sun in terms of image at some point.

          I think you're rather reaching with this hypothesis. I think most atheists would agree that it isn't that the universe couldn't be presided over by an intelligence, just that it's jumping the gun based on what we know.

          January 16, 2014 at 1:58 am |
        • boogysattva

          Oh, get real and do the math. You're hilarious.

          Check out Biocentrism, promoted by Dr. Robert Lanza who was head of the team that created a human embryo, one of the top stem cell scientists in the world, on the cover of US News and front page of NY Times. The scientific thesis that consciousness is completely separate from the body and from time and space.

          As a former atheist (with 800s in math and chem), for whom practical and consistent access to an impeccable Intelligence, inner bliss, and reliable power beyond the ordinary, is as reliable as the floor i stand on or the sunrise–the scientific proof of God greatly interests me. It will happen within a generation–crowding out both the dogmatic religionists ("funless mentalists" I call them), and the dogmatic materialists who masquerade as scientists (Dawkins et al.). They are flip sides of the same coin of spiritual ignorance.

          "There is no matter."–Einstein

          So what DOES exist, if there's no "material" world?

          That's the question. In the East, they have the word "satchitanand"–existence/truth (sat), consciousness (chit) and bliss (anand). They'll smile broadly at you and say "Jai Satchitanand!" Hooray that what actually exists is pure bliss, which I can, and do, experience as my very own consciousness!

          Even Dawkins says the exploration of consciousness is an important scientific frontier. He's in for some surprises–pleasant ones–when he actually does it.

          Outside all paradigms, all dogmas, beliefs, scriptures, religions–is where the Goody awaits the humans. On the furthest frontiers of science.

          "Gate gate paragate
          parasamgate bodhi svaha!"

          Gone beyond the beyondest beyond.
          Hail the goer!
          (the true scientist,
          both "scientia" (knowledge)
          and "gnosis" (knowledge)

          Why be an agnostic when you can be a gnostic?
          Not believe, know. Directly experience.

          In French, "experimental research" and "experiential search" are the same words.

          "Fare forward, traveler." (Eliot)

          January 16, 2014 at 9:26 am |
        • Dan

          The math's been done: "In addition, the Moon's actual orbit is elliptical, often taking it far enough away from Earth that its apparent size is not large enough to block the Sun totally."

          Intelligently designed to cause blindness? :\

          But never mind that. You said, "Not believe, know. Directly experience." What does that even mean?

          January 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • Keith

          Being a Christian hinders rational thought.

          January 17, 2014 at 10:17 am |
        • Dan

          Being human hinders rational thought. You can believe in something unusual and unproven, and even unlikely, but it does not mean that your reasoning cannot be trusted in general. What does is overconfidence; bias and unjustified conviction.

          January 17, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • boogysattva

          BRILLIANT, Dan!

          And such a breath of fresh air and humility, and natural realism. Human, indeed.

          January 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • Keith

          I would argue that if you believe in Santa Claus that you will make decisions that are not logical and will have expectations that will never be met. The same with a "god" no matter which one your choose. The truth is on display every day, of folks making horrible choices because of their belief systems.

          January 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          There are just as many instances, if not more, of people making inhumane decisions based on politics. A Palestinean woman detonated a bomb inside an Israeli cafe. Now, you assume it is between Muslims and Jews, but actually Israeli police had just arrested her family. Most cases of terrorist activity has intrinsic causes deeply rooted in politics. Religion is the motivator to infuriate recruits, and a scapegoat to prevent us from discovering the true causes for destruction.

          January 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • Keith

          But Religion works, If there was not the "god" to hold those evil people together they would not be there. 150 years of the Orange Men in Ireland has proved that and the hate will not die because it is taught in the churches.

          January 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          There are many people who feel oppressed, be it the Government or modern public opinion, and want to fight back. This, however, would not sound appealing to a young man you're trying to recruit. These people then say such things as some group of people is insulting our religion, which radicalizes young men. This person's political agenda is masked with religion, making the common public overlook the causes, leaving us ignorant. I encourage everyone to suspect everything you hear on the news, it might not be about religion, it might be something else.

          January 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
        • Dan

          An irrational belief only leads to irrational real-world decisions where the belief is 1. Tied to those decisions, and 2. Held in conviction not justified by facts and reasoning.

          Santa-belief, for example, is in and of itself harmless, but if one was to prohibit all naughtiness in the name of preventing coal-stockings, then his belief is causing him to behave irrationally. The goal is not to abolish unjustified belief, but to teach that to act on beliefs not recognizably justified to most is dangerous.

          January 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • Keith

          In Vietnam it was clearly a sectarian war. No one got confused. The folks that make it a religions war want it that way and all of the Desert cults thrive on death and destruction.

          January 17, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          You blindly place blame on religion, even in Vietnam, which was just as political as religious. Because the atheist, (emphasis) North Vietnamese government persecuted the Christian minority, doesn't make it the victims' fault. Why don't we just blame the little kid for being bullied?

          January 17, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
        • Keith

          I served in Vietnam, there was no religion mixed up in that war. Defending Religion is pretty silly when there is thousands of years of history that prove that Religion has been the most destructive force in Human History.

          January 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Tell that to Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, atheist dictators who killed more than all religious conflicts combined.

          January 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          There is a plethora of evidence to support the knowledge that humans are the most destructive force in history. If people don't conflict over religion, then it is land, or money. People are generally corrupt and envious, which is always the reason for conflicts, and I think it is not very rational to single out one belief system for the wickedness of humanity. Why can't people commend religion for Mother Teresa, John Paul II, YMCA, ChildFund, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, or the other countless humanitarian religious organizations.

          January 17, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
        • boogysattva

          Ah, no, Hitler–almost all of whose support was Christian–slaughtered around 50 million. Stalin caused 90% of the Nazi casualties (look it up), which mean he saved at least a million American lives, and that's a low estimate. Imagine fighting 10 times as many Nazis.

          The Western "Christian" nations slaughtered people all over the globe in a colonial greed-infused genocidal rampage for centuries, stole their assets, enslaved their people. Look up the Opium Wars, and retch. The CIA alone was responsible for at least 6 million deaths, according to ex-CIA asset John Stockwell (see youtube) and his colleagues.

          In the first Crusade in 1099, the "Christians" slaughtered 40,000 Jews and Muslim civilians in 2 days. When Saladin took it back in 1187, he told his soldiers to spare civilians "to teach a lesson"–i.e., to teach Christians what REAL Christians act like.

          When a Muslim general has to teach you how to be a Christian, you're in rough shape.

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

          "By their fruits you will know them."

          There are millions of atheists who are far more Christian than most Christians. God is not mocked.
          And I'm a BIG fan of Mr. JC,
          and almost NOBODY truly practices his teachings.

          "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" is the real Gospel,
          along with "Judge not" and "Get the log out of your own eye",
          and "As you do unto the least of these, so you do unto me."

          American evangelicals consistently vote for greedheads and mass murderers.
          That's been essentially true of "Christians" ever since Emperor Constantine made them the state religion in the 4th Century.

          January 17, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Stalin killed 50,000 priests, destroyed Churches, outlawed religious expression, and killed Nazis because they were Fascist, which has always been in conflict with socialism. Hitler persecuted Christians as well as Jews, and the Crusades were during the most corrupt leaders of the church. Atheism is responsible for FAR more deaths than religion, Mao, Napolean, Mussolini, all atheists, and responsible for the most infamous crimes against humanity. (Look it up)

          January 17, 2014 at 7:08 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          The colonial period was during the oppressive reign of the white men, the religion was just a factor. And it is a known fact that Hitler detested true Christianity and he favored Arianism, outlawed by Constantine in the fourth century. See, there is more than what meets the eye.

          January 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Stalin also began the most oppressive reign in the twentieth century in those countries he 'liberated' from the Nazis, such as Finland. He only pushed socialism, it is just a good thing that the fight was against facism.

          January 17, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
        • boogysattva

          Yeah, Stalin wasn't as extreme as Jesus and the early Christians, who were communists.

          "Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor."
          "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich person to enter heaven."
          "If someone asks for a loan, give it. If someone asks for your cloak, give them your coat also."
          "Lay not up treasures upon the earth."

          In Acts, a couple sell their land and give most of the money to the community, but secretly keep a small stash. When they are exposed, they drop dead instantly.'

          "They held all things in common."

          The attempts to reconcile unbridled capitalism with the Gospel–so popular among the "right"–are hilarious.

          "You cannot serve both God and wealth."

          January 17, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Actually, socialism in its basic sense is the best political party in politics. It teaches to help the impoverished and to have everyone help with labour, which is what the early Christians taught. Every other political party has one society status above the others, no equality. Socialism actually is the most humanitarian of them all, just not radicalized versions.

          January 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
        • boogysattva

          "The religion was just a factor". Yeah, no factor at all!

          "By their fruits you will know them."
          "Faith without works is dead."

          Are you serious?
          If your religion makes no difference in your behavior, what's the point?

          January 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          I never said religion doesn't have an impact on my actions, what I said were examples of when radical people hide behind religion to justify their actions. Jesus's teachings affect the way I think about sin, or simply society in general. And the YMCA, ChildFund, Salvation Army, and countless other christian humanitarian organizations have acted upon true Christian teachings. Why not focus on them?

          January 17, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
        • boogysattva

          And yes bro, there are countless examples of GOOD, real Christianity. Each year this month we celebrate the birthday of a true Christian, Dr. King.

          "I can't like someone who bombs my house. But I have to love him."

          Jimmy Carter is also the real deal Christian.

          January 17, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          The message I'm attempting to spread is that with any group of individuals, there will be those who become radical, but there usually are exponentially more positive effects than negative. I'm glad that you understand this, and don't act like the typical skeptic.

          January 17, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
        • boogysattva

          EXPONENTIALLY more positive?

          The fundamentalist movement in the Air Force Academy is truly sinister. Treasonous. Fascist. All in the name of Jesus.
          The Book of Revelations (which was not even approved by the Pope as late as the 4th century) is behind a lot of the most sinister side of "Christianity", the false, violent kind.

          And I'm not fond of the Mafia protection racket side of Christianity–the idea of an all-Good, all-loving Father who would send his own kids to eternal torture if they don't toe the line. Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.

          Fortunately Jesus, John and Paul all say that Love Your Neighbor is the root of all commandments, and any commandment that is not a subset of that is not a commandment at all.

          Hence the anti-gay thing is completely un-Christian.

          The Bible says all football players are sinners ("You shall not touch the skin of a pig"),
          all shellfish, or rabbit, or pork eaters are sinners.
          It's OK to sell your daughter into slavery (as long as you follow the Biblical rules),
          slaves are not allowed to escape ("Be subservient to your masters"),
          women can't be equal in marriage ("Be subservient to your husbands")
          and on and on and on.

          But the real Gospel stands out from all that crap. And Jesus was one amazing, brave, brilliant, broke-the-mold dude.
          A true model and a master teacher. "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father."

          He really DOES have the goods on how to create heaven on earth, starting with "within you".

          "Whoever follows the spirit of God, is the son (daughter) of God."–Romans 8

          January 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • boogysattva

          And whether Hitler detested Christianity is not the point! The point is that the Christians brought him to power! And supported him all the way. Amazing.....knock knock, anybody home?

          January 17, 2014 at 7:54 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          You seem to forget that the United States, Great Britain, and France fought the Nazis. These countries were predominately Christian, so Christians fought against Nazis, whose leader was Aryan, a radical offshoot of Christianity.

          January 17, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Hitler's main advisers were actually atheist, the only reason Chrisians brought him to power is that he promised to redeem disgraced Germany after WWI. Then they were fed anti Semitic propaganda, and many Christians actually rebelled. The Church was corrupted at this time, and naturally so became the Christians.

          January 17, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          If a dictator was in your country which was devastated by foreign nations and at the 95% impoverished level and promised to bring honor to your country, wouldn't you like him? Hitler manipulated the media to depict him as a good man, when he obviously wasn't. He actually claimed to have been the last man standing in a battle, killing many Brits. Later, they found out he was just an assistant, who never actually saw combat, however, the people began supporting this picture of a hero.

          January 17, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
        • Keith

          Sorry it seems you do not know history and can't count.

          January 17, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Desert? I have trouble grasping the fact that you think it is only in 'the desert' that destruction is wanted. That is ignorantly opinionated, expected of people like Sarah Palin. Napolean, the most destructive person in ancient Europe, was atheist. Mao, Mussonlini and countless others were atheist and persecuted religion endlessly. Why don't we just stomp out atheism? Because most people can think logically and know that you can't throw out an egg carton because of a cracked egg.

          January 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • Keith

          You have trouble grasping it because you are not very bright. The Desert cults are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

          January 17, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Slander is for the weak minded, I actually am much 'brighter' than you would think. Instead of countering my challenges, you simply dismiss them. This is cognitive dissonance, and it shows that you are unable to reason like an adult despite having served in Vietnam. Surely we can behave like professionals and not like adolescents, the moment you begin slandering, you have lost credibility.

          January 18, 2014 at 8:39 am |
        • Keith

          You are still an id/ot. .

          January 18, 2014 at 10:45 am |
        • Keith

          You never addressed what I said, it seems you can not keep up with the conversation. All you are interested in is your own opinion.

          January 18, 2014 at 10:47 am |
        • boogysattva

          Keith, could you PULEEEEEZE discuss some content?

          January 18, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • Keith

          As soon as they do

          January 18, 2014 at 10:55 am |
        • boogysattva

          doesn't work that way in the adult world, Keith.
          Are you really that narcissistic, that you don't get that you're abusing EVERYONE'S time?
          I had to say it once. Believe me, everyone's thinking it.

          Talk about something real, informative or constructive,
          or please go somewhere and God bless. We've got a discussion to conduct. And it's not about you.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:01 am |
        • Keith

          No this is a public forum and it is about me as much as it is about you. Narcissistic is you scolding me and telling how to conduct myself.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:13 am |
        • boogysattva

          OK you've proven my point. My work is done.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:17 am |
        • Keith


          January 18, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Text lingo, the common ending of a conversation, and in this case the losing of a debate on CNN.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • Keith

          oh yes, you are right about everything

          January 18, 2014 at 11:26 am |
        • boogysattva

          In a public forum it's OK to ask people not to poop in the seats. To respect the collective space.

          I assume you're very young. General rule of thumb with children is,
          don't feed energy to brats. So I'll sign off, until the adult discussion comes back.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:36 am |
        • Keith

          you can kiss my 65 year old as s you ignorant putz

          January 18, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
        • Keith

          So, how are you involved with my disagreement with Josh? I am having so much fun argueing with him that I do not even remember what the original thread was to begin with.

          If you are really interested in my take on why millennials are leaving the church I will gladly share that.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:01 am |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Arguing*. And you have ignored the rebuttal I said because you are too close minded, unable to accept anyone's opinion but yours. You have been beaten in every fashion, but of course you dismiss it and continue to push your superiority complex.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:04 am |
        • JoshtheApologist

          I listed good examples of religion, which atheism has none to be honest, and you have not replied to it. This surely means that you have become too proud of yourself that it would shatter your ego like a cheap mirror to admit it.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:07 am |
        • Keith

          you missed it when you got lost worrying about atheists.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:17 am |
        • JoshtheApologist

          I am an idiot because I am not as ignorant as you? Good examples of religion? YMCA, Salvation Army, Catholic Relief services, ChildFund, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, St Vincent de Paul, Samaritans Purse, and the hundreds of millions of peaceful, hopeful, kind and generous religious people out there. What have famous atheists such as Dawkins done? Arrogance, not much more. I am not interested in my own opinion, unlike you who refuse to listen to anyone but yourself. I actually listened with an open mind, I never called anyone an idiot because they have a different opinion.

          January 18, 2014 at 10:55 am |
        • Keith

          I tried having a conversation with you long enough to know that you are a evangelical and folks like you are stuck with your faith, facts can rarely get past that.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:12 am |
        • JoshtheApologist

          You are just pitifully wrong, I am a Catholic. And narcissism is actually well observed in your opinion pushing, which hasn't listened an iota to anyone else. You have become one sided, still haven't refuted my good examples of religion, and still continue to try and demean us. You have exhibited arrogance, a superiority complex, narcissism, close mindness, stereotypes, and cognitive dissonance. These alone can show that this little debate is well favoring me, but of course now you will comment that "Im an idiot," or some other nonsense to cover up your wounded argument.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • Keith

          No my argument is not wounded, Christians have caused the world as much misery and pain as any other group of folks and there is no redemption for them. I will not change you are right, and every chance I get I will fight to keep them out of my life and others.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:26 am |
        • JoshtheApologist

          I realize you aren't an expert in human behavour, but surely you can see the arrogance and close mindness in your argument? Atheists have caused just as much suffering as Christians, and there never will be redemption for them. And you will fight to keep good Christians out of your life, similar to how you fought to prevent the North Vietnamese from utterly crushing the South? Didn't seem to work then either.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:30 am |
        • Keith

          I stayed alive in Vietnam for three years in force recon. You do not know a ph ucking thing about Vietnam, you ignorant as s hole

          January 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          I know that for every 65,000 rounds Americans shot, 1 Viet Cong was killed. And that the North invaded the South and began an oppression that dwarfs anything Christianity caused.

          January 18, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
        • boogysattva

          If atheists are full of love, they are already redeemed.

          "One who loves is born of God and knows God, for God is Love."

          "Judge not."

          That, and only that, makes you a Christian–even if you're an atheist.

          People who believed Jesus died for their sins have slaughtered millions of innocent people. So obviously THAT doesn't do the trick. Only love does.


          January 18, 2014 at 11:06 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          Many people who don't believe that also caused much suffering. To place blame on a belief is amateurish, why don't why also blame atheism for Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Napolean, and others like them? Redemption comes from love, the love the Son of God showed when He died for our sins. However, people must accept the redemption, or else they have not been saved. You helped me diffuse a militant atheist just to continue debating me? That is where the quack is, the hypocrisy you exhibited. Belief in the Son of God doesn't generate violence, radicalism does. Loving each other doesn't have redemption in itself, the redemption is found in Christ.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
        • Keith

          I wish "god" would come back and pick his fan club up.

          January 18, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
        • Dan

          The point is, Keith, you're pointing to extreme examples to justify an extreme position. The problem isn't religion, it's using unjustified beliefs to sanctify bad decisions. That doesn't always happen just because you have an unjustified belief.

          January 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
        • Keith

          Dan that is ignorant, neither you or Josh are very bright.

          January 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm |
        • boogysattva

          Keith, that contributes absolutely nothing to an adult conversation. Address the content or spare us and argue with the mirror.

          January 17, 2014 at 11:53 pm |
        • Keith

          I guess you didnt' bother to read the comments that led me to that observation.

          January 18, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • Dan

          I made a very simple point, Keith. Let's stick to it. I provided reasoning supporting (and Josh provided several examples of) the fact that religion is not bad per se. Believing in something is not the same as holding it in such confidence that you believe it is justified to control or hurt others on its basis. This holds for all beliefs, religious or otherwise. If you must find a place to lay the blame for humanity's ills, you need look no further than humanity itself.

          January 18, 2014 at 12:44 am |
        • Keith

          You reasoning is so convoluted that it is difficult to understand what you are trying to say. But I am blaming a particular part of humanity, the religious. I have seen no examples of good that Religion has done that justifies all the evil.

          January 18, 2014 at 10:44 am |
        • Dan

          What is so "convoluted" about the idea that intellectually unjustified beliefs do not always lead to unreasonable, unjustified decisions?

          Can you admit even that, Keith? Can you admit that there are people who believe differently from you but do good in the world and not evil, perhaps even on the basis of that non-rigorous belief? Can you see that believing something unproven doesn't mean that absolutely everyone who holds that belief will act irrationally on its basis?

          A man who believes he is a lampshade can still understand that not everyone will see things the same way. He can still admit the possibility he is wrong and behave in accordance with how society expects him to behave. He may even believe that his lampshade-ness is an unprovable but hopeful prospect that leads him to do good for others.

          THAT is my point – Unreasonable beliefs can be tempered with honesty, humility, and compassion for others so that they aren't harnessed to destructive ends!

          January 18, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • Keith

          I dont' believe that all Christians are evil, I believe that Christianity is evil. I believe that the belief system of most evangelical Christians is every bit as harmful as any fundamentalist Muslim. I was raised in a Fundamentalist church,

          January 18, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
        • JoshtheApologist

          You were raised in a fundamentalist church, not a catholic, orthodox, Protestant church. To categorize all Christianity because of a small fundamentalist church is just invalid. The message of Christianity: Love Thy Neughbor as Thy love Thyself, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Only in Muslim fundamentalism is anyone told to kill anyone who isn't a Muslim, Christians are never told to kill.

          January 18, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
        • boogysattva

          This weekend when we celebrate a REAL, "love your enemies", "as you do unto the least of these" Christians, Dr. King, you say Christianity is evil? Oy.

          January 18, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
  4. In home personal training long lsland

    This was such a great post thank you Rachel Held Evans. This is how I feel all summed up. I agree with young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

    I most admit that I find my self often confused by those with overly aggressive religious beliefs.

    December 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • RobertTT

      That's your brain telling you "Wow this religion thing is really stupid" ... and the mental haze caused when you don't listen to it!

      December 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • lionfou

        Ah, I don't think that's what she meant, RobertTT. It's always tricky putting words in someone else' mouth. And highly presumptuous.

        There is some very sophisticated stuff in the world scriptures, from the Bhagavad Gita to the Tao Te Ching to the Sermon on the Mount. Quite separate from dogmas and funless mentalists. Many brilliant scientific minds have explored their depths.

        Perhaps the religious folks aren't the only ones trapped in their dogmas, and refusing to think critically. 😉

        December 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
      • Alex Martin

        Very well said.

        December 25, 2013 at 4:15 am |
    • Keith

      You will have to leave the idiots that interrupted the Bible as a History Book or as literal truth, then you will not have to live with so much conflicting information. The Bible is a teaching book, most of the Evangelical's are not even qualified to tell you what the Old Testament means. It is the Jews book, ask a Jew. They do not believe much of the foolishness that the Fundamentalists think it means.

      December 21, 2013 at 5:05 am |
  5. Natalie

    You can sit down with leaders and tell them what you really want out of the church (Jesus), but good luck being listened to when they care about their "building fund" and salaries of the church members. If you don't remember, Jesus flipped tables over and went into a freak out session over people turning his temple into a market place. These people in church hierarchy want Jesus in their personal lives, but when they go to work, they want business.

    December 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
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  9. dennis


    1 John 2:19 KJV
    They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

    2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV
    Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed , the son of perdition; A FALLING AWAY FROM THE CHURCH

    2 Timothy 4:3 KJV
    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

    Matthew 24:12 KJV
    And because iniquity shall abound , the love of many shall wax cold .

    November 26, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Stephen Caldwell

      Like John wrote in Rev. Even so...Besides this one persons synopsys is not everyones perspective. Even so...One doesn't have to look around very hard to see whats going on around the world, and to see It was written 2600 years ago and is happening , and yet no one in the media seems to see or understand that God said it would be like this. Dont even stop their convenient lives to notice...even so, they will very soon!

      November 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
      • Observer

        The end of the world has been "close" for THOUSANDS of years.

        Nothing new at all.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
      • Seth

        So you're suggesting that if I had a load to sell you, I wouldn't say some people would find it hard to believe?

        November 27, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  10. Kelly Salasin

    This makes me cry.
    With hope.
    And understanding.
    (Even though I'm 49. And assign myself to no particular faith.)

    November 22, 2013 at 6:24 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.