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. Trey

    What does "creation care" mean?

    July 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Smeagel4T

      It means not allowing the money changers to destroy God's temple (Earth) in the name of worshipping Mammon (greed).

      July 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  2. Seyedibar

    A little study of history and comparative religions goes a long way. Abraham is based on an Egyptian figure. His god was Ptah, not El, and his vision was of Memphis, not Isreal.
    Jesus was likely based on a Merkabah mystic, son of a hairdresser and carpenter. The oldest nonsupernatural tales speak of a mystic in the first century BCE who was stoned and hanged with his brothers for tattooing banned symbols.
    Moses was almost certainly the Pharoah Thutmoses II and III who briefly reunited the wartorn Mediterranean empire territories under the Egyptian state religion. The old testament's accounts are clearly based on the script on Thutmose's war monument walls. Their Ten Commandments are taken word for word from the Confessions of Maat (also inscribed on the Canaanite war walls).
    And if you go back a little further, Uguritic archaeology shows us that the book of Genesis is based on the ancestor kings of the Canaanites. Most Christians and Jews aren't aware that the creator of the garden of Eden, El, is recorded to have died of a wild boar attack.

    July 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Camille

    As a 46-year-old woman, I've just returned to Catholicism after 30 years away. Specifically, I'm attending the Latin Mass, the oldest, most traditional, conservative, supernatural, and beautiful form of the Mass. So, I agree with you that church must have meaning and dignity to be powerful.

    July 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      How exactly is your mass "supernatural"?

      July 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
      • TriXen

        Probably because she doesn't understand Latin.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • OTOH

      Sure, the Catholic mass has some beautiful rituals and pageantry that elicit an intended emotional response. Enjoy... but that does not verify that the fantasies that they preach are true.

      July 28, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  4. Great Article

    I liked the article. It was pretty straight forward and wasn't super preachy. The one thing that I want to comment on was her statement that deep down, we all long for Jesus. I think that this is a big fallacy in religious thinking. Many people simply don't believe in it. It's not a positive or negative thing, it just is. I have never had, nor ever will have a longing for Jesus. I just don't think that religion is real. I don't fault people for believing themselves, it's wrong to assume that everyone has this need for Jesus whether they believe in it or not. That's the inherent problem that if a religion is true for someone, it would have to be true for everyone because if it were untrue for even one person, then it would have to be untrue for everyone else.

    July 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Jenny Shaneyfelt

      If you don't or have never had a longing for Jesus, you don't know him. If you did know him, you would irresistibly run to him. You were designed and created to love him. Saying you don't want Jesus is like an airplane that doesn't want to fly or Michael Jordan saying he doesn't want to play basketball; but it's really even so much deeper than that, every fiber in your being was built to worship, glorify, praise, love, and jump for joy just to get the chance to speak with him. I pray you will get the chance to know the only one who has the ability to love every cell in your body, soul, and spirit because this is the point at which you will begin living. I'm sorry the church has failed you in showing you who he is. Love to you my friend!! El shaddai Elyon na Adonai!!

      July 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @jenny, that is pure cr@p.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
      • Great Article

        See, this is exactly what I'm talking about...

        July 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • sam stone

        by what authority do you claim to know jesus?

        especially considering the the bible, as translated, edited hearsay, has been fvcked with more times than a san diego streetwalker when the fleet is in town

        July 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  5. Dave

    I do have some general statements to make before signing off. I have read the following and would like to comment on the following in kind:

    1. Hitler was a Christian and therefore that in and of itself disproved the reality of Christianity – This is a stupid statement to make. Misrepresenting a belief does not define the tenants of truth of that belief. Just because I might say I am a Muslim and then proceed to put a cross in a mosque does not make me a true Muslim. Give me a break.

    2. The bible and Christianity are not scientific – Again a flawed argument. Why is it in the book of Job it talks about the Earth being spherical yet centuries later the world was described as being flat. Why is it that there are instructions given in the Old Testament on how to deal with hygiene properly. Why is it that the Catholic (I am not Catholic by the way so not bias) church did more to protect reading, writing and basic math during the medieval periods.

    3. The bible is historically inaccurate – The most stupid argument to date. You claim that Christians claim the world to be 6000 years old. Even if that were true, the bible does not give an exact time when the Earth was created. "In the beginning" verse alludes to the big bang. Most of the cities referenced in the bible can be proved. Some folks here tried to allude that Jesus might not have existed. Josephus who wrote history from a non-biased point of view said that Jesus lived and he was much closer to that era than any of you and could probably think more objectively too. That the bible makes reference to the sudden changes in the lives of the disciples is proof positive. Unlike suicidal religiously zealous persons, their life changed almost immediately from trying to preserve their lives to spreading the gospels at risk to their lives. And the disciples separated and went all over the known world. This means that any possibility of group brain washing claimed would not have had as strong a hold. Someone would have broken ranks in time especially at the risk of death. And do not use the Manchurian movie as an example of long arm brain washing. If that were the case back then, one would have to conclude the disciples were expert in a form of clinical psychiatry yet to be discovered. So much then for non-scientific Christianity.

    4. Finally for the moment – Millennials, Gen X etc. are themselves hypocrites (I am also a Gen X). We are criticize the Baby boom generation for indulgence when at least they took to the streets. We certainly indulged ourselves in the 1980's. What have we done. We criticize the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation but at least the saved the world and dealt with the Soviet Union. Mills and Gen X want to have this white washed perception of being cute and good; However the 1980's movies attest to our arrogance. The 1990's movies attest to youth overindulgence, and current movies attest to arrogance, child self-righteousness, non-reality of the world and things. Go to the Disney Channel. The other generations were not perfect. However we are not necessarily good. We cannot reform truth for PC sake.

    4. As in the Hitler point discussed above, you folks try to prey off of the hypocritical living of others to discredit Christianity or any religion for that matter. If you were really thinking philosophically and critically, you would divorce the teachings from the individual. After all, we have all misrepresented things; even the atheists.

    July 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      You have gone a long way to present the No True Scotman argument.
      It still does not work.
      Hitler was christian, deal with it.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Dave

        So your only come back is to have no come back. I make a claim and it must be so in other words. I have to remember this when I apply to NASA to be on their scientific panels of which I totally do not qualify for. I can certainly deal with the fact that Hitler claimed to be a Christian a lot more easier than I can deal with people who argue provocative rhetoric for the sake of comment. Ok, Hitler claimed he was a Christian while indulging in Mysticism along with Himmler who grew up Methodist; but I am sure he was still a Methodist when he committed suicide at the end of a long bad nightmare that ended called Nazi Germany. Yes, they like we get the privilege to claim we are Christians.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
        • Observer


          "Why is it in the book of Job it talks about the Earth being spherical yet centuries later the world was described as being flat."

          The Bible described the earth as a CIRCLE not a sphere. A circle is FLAT. It is 2-dimensional, not 3-dimensional.

          The Bible also talks about the "corners of the earth".

          Read the Bible so you won't make such foolish statements.

          July 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
      • Dave

        At first I was not going to continue to respond but you said something very very important. In fact possibly the most important statement blogged on this topic. That Hitler believed in the Christian God. I think that is debatable one way or the other. But lets go with that argument because Hitler did not explicitly say he was an Atheist. In fact he did believe in a spiritual world. However, believing in something is not the same as living by something. I believe that Communists China exits and know it exists and may even understand every aspect of their government (which I do not::>>). However, if I do not believe in their method of governing, then I am not a Communist. So even if Hitler did believe in the existence of God from the Christian point of view, since he did not live by the Christian word of God, then he was not a Christian. In other words, claiming something and believing something and not living to heart that something makes you something else. You do not want to say Hitler was an atheist but he did practice on his fellow man the philosophy of survival of the fittest. So.........

        July 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Hitler was not an atheist. He fought against atheism, and thought it to be mental illness, that you could not be a moral person if you did not have faith.

          July 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The problem with people who profess to be Christian but are rejected by other Christians is that there is no method by which anyone can determine who is or isn't a Christian. Since there is no way to prove someone is not a Christian, we nonchristians must assume that everyone who says they are a Christian are a Christian.

      Must of your other reasoning is very stupid and obviously biased. You value your beliefs over any honest critique; you prize your determination of spiritual truth over hard facts that discredit your position; you allow any excuse that will do in order to hold onto your world view. For you, any excuse will do, just so long as it doesn't make you have to consider changing your mind.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • Dave


        So when the New Testament says you must believe in Jesus and be born again, then thou shalt be saved, what part is hard to understand. I think however you hit something on the nail that Jesus and the early apostles hit. People try to make Christian doctrine so complex that they miss simple truths and then miss the big picture. I do think that if the church failed in anything, it was because they succeeded in making the doctrine too complex. HOWEVER (sorry about the Caps) that being said, once a person does accept the Christian faith, then true living must begin. Not pretenses. I am not addressing your statement totally in a direct way so I will have go back and re-read to continue. However, the pretenses of the church need to be re-examined and that is also what I am hearing or reading I should say a lot of in this blog.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
        • Seyedibar

          Why should anyone believe such nonsense as truth? There are thousands of cult leaders and shamen and illusionists who have claimed the same. There have been thousands of gods worshiped in hundreds of religions. And you choose to believe in the one whose story has long since been proven to be embellishment, if not complete fiction. Apply the same scrutiny to your own gods as you would to any of those other 300+ religions, and you may find that you've been fooling yourself all along... or rather your parents fooled you.

          July 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Cpt. Obvious

        “The problem with people who profess to be Christian but are rejected by other Christians is that there is no method by which anyone can determine who is or isn't a Christian.”
        This is true to some degree. If you meet someone you may not know if they are Christian or not. However, we can know who the Christians are, by what they do. This can take time.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      1. Hitler used Christian Lutheran propaganda to spread antisemitism and the Vatican church to launder their gains. The Church was explicitly involved.
      2. There are 5 verses in the bible that explicitly state that the world is flat.
      3. "In the beginning" didn't exist until the KJV translation. Before that time it read "When on high" which is a reference to the Canaanite kings building their temples on a mountain ledge. The oldest translations also make it clear that El and his people chopped down a forest by hand and pushed back water to build Eden.
      4. You're not actually trying to make any sort of point. Not sure why you numbered that one.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • Dave

        I can only address point # 1 as the other points I would honestly have to go back and research on my own.

        On point # one which everyone is getting hung up on, again, all I can really say is that I can reference anything or anyone at anytime in a misrepresentation sort of way. You and I together I am sure could easily come up with historically significant moments in which the church could have stood up to evil and did not. Or that the church practiced bigotry, ignorance, etc. However, what something says and how someone or a group of people live will not always represent the true tenants of faith.

        I will however generally and I profess not fairly address your other historical points; When you read the bible, the bible from what I can tell stands on logic that causes belief for me even though the bible was written long long ago;

        The common thread in the bible is that mankind has a beginning, a point on this earth and an eventual end point with destiny.

        We can argue about the cruelty of how the Old Testament dealt with bad behavior, the contradictions to scientific reasoning that bible stories entail, etc. and I will admit that I am not properly armed to deal with at this time. However, more than look to what Jesus said to prove he as God, I look to the disciples, who were flawed me, ready to abandon Jesus at a whim and then came back to the fold and stayed consistent in their decisions to the end. Something significant had to have happened. Also coupled with what Jesus said and his teachings and many of the Old Testament prophecies he fulfilled, that speaks to my logic as flawed as that logic others may consider it is. Good come backs however.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Dave, the Bible describes the Earth as a circle, not a sphere. And, Josephus specifically described Jesus as the son of a high priest. Do you really want to stick with those two pieces of evidence?

      July 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • Dave

        Regarding Josephus – Yes, I will still hang with that argument. Josephus was not out to prove Jesus as the Son of God but as an historical figure that did exist. The Bible fills in the rest.

        Circle/Sphere, ok Circle. Thanks for the clarification on that. However, given that the Bible speaks to a message, the messenger (God's prophets) may be off on a description but get the gist of the illustration they are trying to make while staying on message. And you do know too that the Earth as most other plants actually show signs of slightly bulging. But the point being is that everyone wants to claim the Bible as being unscientific. And Ptolemy thought there were multi circular rings centering around the Earth but Atheist and Scientist give him a pass on this as a noble try for an enlightened thinker which is still further from the truth than the Earth being spherical, circular or whatever.

        July 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  6. Mediaeval

    The hip worship band phenomenon is a product of the babyboom culture, and hopefully will pass with it. My kids realize 'contemporary worship' is light and frothy and much prefer historic content-rich liturgy and hymns. Where God's Word is preached, sung, and prayed, there you are more likely to find a healthy, growing church that appeals to all ages.

    July 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      sounds like you enjoy cherry-picking.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Or he was very good at indoctrinating them into his cult.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • steelsoapy

        Why do you sit on here commenting like this?

        July 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  7. velan timothy


    July 28, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  8. Motarr

    Millennials who are able to distinguish between the body of Christ (church) and the local building/assembly (church) recognize the difference between being the church (Christian) and doing church (adherent). Christians do not cease to belong to Christ. Adherents can and do choose to leave the local congregation.

    July 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      and they realize both are total b.u.l.l.s.h.i.t.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • steelsoapy

        Why do you post on here saying things like that?

        July 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      My invisible pink unicorn loves to eat the body of Jesus and drink his blood.
      Nothing strange about that.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • larrylivingston

      So Millennials are attempting to rationalize a NEW myth, one that is hopefully less ridiculous that the old myth..and they are failing (judging by the fact that millennials are leaving the church in droves). Repackaging christian hatred for a new generation just isn't going to work this time.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • Dave

        Repackaging hatred or packaging it back to what it was is never right although I was in my extremely critical in my statements against Mils and Gen X'rs. However, do not or I should say you should not let what hypocrites have done in the past to cause you generation or the ones after yours to re-package the truth either. Your generation (if I can be so bold as to give advice given your generation has bailed me out of a lot of computer problems at work::>>) should take your perceptions of what you know to be wrong with something and take your better tolerant insights to re-ignite the truth based on the consistencies of that truth. In this case, the consistent truths spoken of in the Bible despite what other previous generations have said or hypocritically lived by.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  9. naiemahmad

    From the day God created this heaven and earth, it has never happened that He destroyed those who are good . On the contrary Our God possess great and wonderful Powers,Our God is a very loyal God, and for those who remain loyal to Him He shows wonderful works. The world wishes to tear them to pieces and eat them up; and every enemy grinds his teeth on them;but He Who is There friend saves them from every danger, and brings them out triumphant on every field. How fortunate, then is he who does not let go his hold of such a God?

    To Him we render our faith, and Him we have recognized. Of all the world He alone is the God!

    July 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the flying spaghetti monster will soon touch you with his noodlely appendage.


      July 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Yummy word salad.
      My invisible pink unicorn needed a snack.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Damocles

      Sooo.... in that flood story, there were only eight good people left on the whole planet and an incalculabe number of bad animals?

      I look at this the same way as a CEO of a company being shocked and dismayed that his or her company has lost billions of dollars. Call me loony, but if I'm running a business I'd want to know who/what/when/where/why and how we lost a thousand dollars, let alone millions and billions.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • hee hee

      What kind of idea am I?

      July 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @maie, there is no legitimate reason to believe any of what you have written to be true.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @naie, of course, no one saves them from every danger or brings them victory on every field. you statement is pure wishful thinking and patently false.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  10. Some guy

    This article is absolutely correct. Evangelicals always strike me as very hateful. How can someone be a christian and advocate against social welfare? How can they be a christian and not be inclusive instead of just hating everything? My whole life I have seen this rabid behavior coming from the evangelical groups and my first impression of them is that they are narrow minded and hateful. Who would ever want to associate with that? Instead of judging everyone, get out, put on some boots and help people.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  11. My six cents worth

    I'm 33 years old, and completely disagree with this article. I do not think that it's the inability to bridge the gap between science and religion – it's that more of us are educated, and see the Bible for what it truly is – a collection of stories, used throughout history, to ensure that populations were 'kept in check' by a threat from a so-called higher power. There is a reason that we no longer worship Ra, Zeus, etc....and maybe Jesus and the God-figure are heading in the same direction. The next generation is being encouraged to question, and embrace free-thought. Ultimately, deity worship has no place in modern society.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well said.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • joe

      and maybe Jesus and the God-figure are heading in the same direction.
      Not maybe. They have. Only the extremely uneducated, ignorant and mental cases believe–oh and those who prey on them if you can call it that.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Amazing Grace

      I am saddened that you feel that way about God. But whether you believe in Him or not, He does exist. If the Bible were a collection of stories to keep people in check, why did people through the centuries give up their lives in very painful torturous deaths all because they refused to deny Christ? They continue to do it still. Perhaps you would say they were incredibly stupid or completely duped. I would say that they experienced the presence of God and refused to deny Him. I cannot convince you. You do have the the ability and the freedom to choose what you will believe and who you will put your faith in–whether it be yourself or a religion. I am one of those who has read the Bible and believe it to be true with my whole heart. I believe that Christ died for our sins. I believe that He rose again. You may make fun of my and tell me I am crazy or hateful, but Christ said that if were to follow Him that would be the result–His followers will be reviled as He was reviled...not much of a selling point is it? So what causes us to stay? I choose to cling to Christ, because He did free me from my bitterness and hatred. I have been in His presence and things that I once thought were so fulfilling seem so hollow and empty in comparison. I am not trying to sell you anything. I am trying to represent the other side of the coin. But I would encourage you to read the Bible–really read it, before you dismiss it as a bunch of stories.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • Dave

        Well put and beautifully said. At the end of the day and there will be on for each of us or for society as a whole on the last day, we will all find out what is what.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @grace, there are martyrs of every religion and practically every cause, that in no way lends any veracity to the reality of the message. your assertion is meaningless.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @grace, we can not force ourselves to believe something that is plainly unbelievable. if only it were so simple.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  12. Laura M.

    Well said. Love this article! I am proud to say my church is very liberal...open to ALL. That is why I stay. Every year we host an inter faith service that includes at least 10 different faiths. it is so beautiful it brings me to tears. I learn so much from being open to others views. I also don't define my religion anymore. The message is live the word of Jesus/Buddha/etc... everyday. It's really simple. Be Jesus/Buddha...If everyone took action on that our world would be a better place. Also....be nice on FB. I see a lot of hatred on the posts above. Just be kind.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  13. Bootyfunk

    '"Does God exist?" question, which is actually...not what this article is about. It makes as much sense to read an article about how the feminist movement should respond to the "Lean In" philosophy and posting a rant about how women are superior/inferior to men. Related, but ultimately not relevant to the ideas within the text you've just read.'
    wrong. it makes great sense. your analogy is off. the existence of god is the basis for all religious arguments. a better analogy would have been that we don't need to argue about the specifics of domestic abuse if we teach abusive men to respect women in the first place. in other words, people can argue about the details of their religious beliefs, but it boils down to whether god exists or not.

    'Faith is an individual calling, and whatever a person has faith in – be it God, science, humanism, nature, or some combination of the above – should be respected.'
    absolutely wrong. i will respect you, but i don't have to respect your crazy ideas. when christian science parents don't take their children to the hospital, i don't have to respect that. when mormons fight against g.ay marriage, i don't have to respect that. i also don't have to respect the command in the bible to kill g.ays. if anything, you're exactly wrong - terrible ideas should NEVER garner respect.

    'This article does a good job of pointing out the changing face of religious belief in this country, and shouldn't be attacked because the author happens to hold a particular belief system. Nowhere in the article does she attack people who don't believe. Can we all be respectful of her beliefs while we're at it?'
    you're actually complaining that an author wrote a news article for CNN and people are discussing it? and calling the author out on parts they disagree with? again, i don't have to respect her ideas. i'm not calling her names - but i am calling into question her putting words in my mouth like:
    "Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus."
    i don't long for jesus in any way shape or form.

    why don't you stop trying to censor people on a discussion blog? or at least be fair in your assessment.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      sorry, posted in wrong place. was meant for KatieRose down below.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • KatieRose

        I'm really sorry. I don't mean to censor; it was just a thought I had. Feel free to disagree (at length if you want)! No worries!

        July 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • KatieRose

          I also think there's a difference between respecting someone's beliefs and respecting actions that they take that will harm another. Again, I'm really sorry if I seemed to be disrespecting someone else – It wasn't my intent at all.

          July 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          i disagree with you telling people not to discuss religion on a religious discussion blog. hehe.
          and i disagree with you saying we must respect all ideas in this world, no matter how crazy. we don't.

          July 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • KatieRose

          Okay! That works for me. I'm sorry if it sounded like I was ordering people not to talk about an issue; I just disagreed with the focus of the discussion. They can totally talk about it. Such is the freedom of the internet! 🙂

          July 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          smooches, Katie. 🙂

          July 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  14. Reality

    Tis one of the weekend feature religion topics on CNN Headline news and the result, as normal already over 3000 comments.

    And to keep up with traffic flow:

    Again for the new members:

    Some 21st century nitty-gritty:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Added details available upon written request

    July 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • JR

      Umm. You really need to pick up a book. Might want to start with did Jesus exist by Bart Ehrman.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • Reality

        Only for the new members of this blog:

        From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

        "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

        “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

        “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

        “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

        I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

        See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

        Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

        Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

        There is also a search engine for this book on the right hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus

        See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

        From ask.com,

        "One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.

        Then there are these scriptural references:

        Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )

        Added suggested readings:

        o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
        2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
        – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

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

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

        July 28, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  15. Seyedibar

    Why Milennials are leaving the church:
    Because a 21st century education inscience leaves no logical room for: men made from mud, 6000-yr-old planet, talking donkeys, talking snakes, talking shrubbery, insects that wear hats, water turning to blood, corpses returning from the grave, flying men (winged and not-winged), or prophecy. And an education in history only shows how plagiarized and edited all these tales are.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • OTOH

      Correct. And a look at past and modern sci-fi, fantasy fiction and horror stories shows how prevalent and easy-to-conjure this stuff was and is. People eat it up for thrills and chills!

      July 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
      • OTOH

        Oh, and adding a promise of eternal bliss if you believe it and eternal torment if you don't is a tremendously seductive hook.

        July 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • larrylivingston

      Wow! The bible has ALL THAT, and yet Harry Potter is still a better book.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  16. mrksteele

    Do you want to bring your Christian faith into alignment with the modern world? You are among friends. We also left the traditional church and looked for a different kind of relationship with God in many places, before we re-discovered this new vision of Christianity taught by Father Thomas Keating and Ken Wilber. We are so excited by what they shared with us that we created The Future of Christianity DVD set to introduce these inspiring concepts to individuals like you who are seeking a new kind of modern relationship with Jesus Christ.


    July 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Does God condone you stealing free advertising ?

      July 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Does your newfound faith teach that it is OK to STEAL advertising, something that is expressly forbidden by the terms of use?

      July 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • larrylivingston

      LOL at using Ken Wilber to resurrect your dying mythology. AQAL? Funny, I don't recall hearing about that in the Bible. You are attempting to redesign your product...which makes sense, because it's not working for you anymore. What you're STILL not getting, although by learning about KW you may be getting closer to, is that for many centuries now, Christianity PREVENTED people from raising their level of consciousness. You will NEVER reach anything like "tier 2" consciousness with mechanisms such as christianity. And perhaps you know that, which is why you are abandoning it. Welcome to Green!

      July 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Does your new version of the christian cult include factual, verifiable, independent and objective evidence for any god and a supernatural jesus, or is it just another pile of lies on top of myths? What is your cult's annual revenue and when do you plan to go public with a share offering?

      July 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  17. imark70

    We are leaving the church because the primary story is false.
    There is no need for the god hypothesis to explain nature anymore.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  18. HD Motyl

    You think that evangelicals are too political and the Catholic hierarchy isn't? Popes who collaborate with Nazis, cardinals who rub elbows with governors, bishops that make deals with mayors . . . yes, nothing political about the Catholic Church at all.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  19. Mothergoose

    As a 62 year old grandma, I too say, ME TOO! Still looking for Jesus and have not found him in any of the religious communities. You have eloquently stated what many of us are feeling and thinking. Thank you.

    July 28, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Ed

      You haven't found Jesus because he is not real. You may as well be looking for the boogey man or Big Foot. Stop chasing fantasy and start embracing reality. It is much more rewarding.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
      • snowboarder

        he might have been real, but he is long dead and gone.

        July 28, 2013 at 2:04 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.