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July 30th, 2013
02:17 PM ET

Why are millennials leaving church? Try atheism

Opinion by Hemant Mehta, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Articles and books about why millennials are leaving Christianity often focus on what churches are doing "wrong."

They're anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, 
to name a few of the most common criticisms.

I don't disagree with those critiques, but there's another side to the story.

While Christians have played sloppy defense, secular Americans have been showing off some impressive offense, giving young Christians plenty of reasons to lose faith in organized religion.

For instance, atheists dominate the Internet, rallying to thriving websites and online communities in lieu of physical meeting spaces.

Even a writer for the evangelical magazine Relevant admitted that “While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers.”

Atheists outnumber Christians on popular discussion forums like Reddit, where subscribers to the atheism section number more than 2 million. The Christianity section is not even 5% of that.

The Internet-based Foundation Beyond Belief, which encourages atheists to donate to charitable organizations, just celebrated raising $1 million for worthwhile causes. (Disclosure: I serve on its board of directors.)

Moreover, blogs and websites espousing non-religious viewpoints and criticizing Christianity draw tons of Internet traffic these days. For every Christian apologist's argument, it seems, there's an equal and opposite rebuttal to be found online. I call that "Hitchens' Third Law.”

READ MORE: Why millennials are leaving the church 

Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can't protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs.

If there's an open comment thread to be found on a Christian's YouTube video or opinion piece online, there's inevitably going to be pushback from atheists.

There has also been a push by atheists to get non-religious individuals to "come out of the closet" and let people know that they don't believe in God.

Among other things, this proves that anti-atheist stereotypes aren't accurate and, just as important, that atheists aren’t alone in their communities.

There's the Richard Dawkins Foundation's Out Campaign, with its Scarlet A badges.

There are atheist-encouraging billboards in 33 states financed by groups like the United Coalition of Reason.

There's even going to be an 1-800 hot line for people "recovering" from religion.

READ MORE: Atheists to start 1-800 hot line for doubters

And last year, an estimated 20,000 atheists turned out for the Reason Rally in Washington, a tenfold increase from the previous atheist rally in 2002.

But more than anything else, atheism's best advertisements may be the words of Christian leaders themselves.

When Pastor Mark Driscoll belittles women, Rick Warren argues against same-sex rights or Rob Bell equivocates on the concept of hell, we amplify those messages for them - and it helps us make our point.

(It goes without saying that the pairing of Pat Robertson and YouTube has been great for atheists.)

Pastors are no longer the final authority on the truth, and millennials know it.

Even if they hold Jesus' message in high esteem, the Bible as it has traditionally been preached by many evangelical pastors is becoming less and less attractive to them.

A 2012 study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PDF) showed that many Christians aged 18-24 felt that Christianity was hypocritical (49%), judgmental (54%) and anti-gay (58%).

In addition, Christianity Today reported last year that fewer than half of born-again Christians under 35 opposed same-sex marriage.

When millennials' pastors and hearts are going in different directions, church leaders should be worried.

Can churches win back the youth?

Barring a complete shift in beliefs, that may not be possible. Some of the proposed solutions seem ludicrous to millennial atheists like myself.

For instance, there's been talk of finding a better way to reconcile science and religion. Whenever that battle takes place, religion loses.

There are some questions we may never know the answer to, but for the ones we can eventually answer, the scientific explanation will devour the religious one. Mixing science and religion requires a distortion of one or the other.

READ MORE: Behold, the six tribes of atheism 

What about focusing on the message and life of Jesus?

While this sounds good philosophically, the myth surrounding Jesus is part of the problem with Christianity.

To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles.

There's no proof of any of that ever happened, and atheists place those stories in the same box as "young Earth creationism" and Noah's Great Flood.

To be sure, if Christians followed the positive ideas Jesus had, we'd all be better off, but it's very hard to separate the myth from the reality.

In short, there are many reasons the percentage of millennials who say they've never doubted God's existence is at a record low, and nearly a quarter of adults under 30 no longer affiliate with a faith.

The church has pushed young people away, yes, but there are also forces actively pulling them in the other direction.

It appears that atheists and Christians are finally working together on the same task: getting millennials to leave the church.

Hemant Mehta blogs at The Friendly Atheist. The views expressed in this column belong to Mehta. 

Photos: Famous atheists and their beliefs

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Culture & Science • Faith • Internet • Nones • Opinion • Science • United States

soundoff (5,653 Responses)
  1. me

    I have just one question for the Christians: Where is your god now?

    July 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Anglican

      Everywhere and well, thank you very much.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  2. Austin

    Truth Prevails, Talullah13

    i am sitting here telling you about what God has done in my life. the end result is two people who proclaim anothers mental illness wrongly , selfishly and negligently, you futher call me a danger to society, and that claim right there basically would wind up in an insti.tution, mental health evaluation, what a hellatious mess and assault that would be, i would be drugged and weined off each one, basic torture and spiritual extermination, and then you also mock me an say my friens make fun of me behind my back.

    you two are straight up working for a destroyer demon. you are tearing at flesh and want the murder or authentic spirituality. That is demonic.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Austin

      it clear that you two go the the extent of demonic persecution and oppression.

      Do you think you know something?

      July 31, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      If you dislike the abuse you get here when you spout the garbage about your dreams and dead cats you may either try not commenting or try saying something less ridiculous. Even the Christians on here know you are a nut and avoid coming to your defense. As for some telling you to get help, they are doing that seriously because from what you are claiming it appears that you do have some form of mental illness that should be addressed by a professional.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • Paul

        I get what you're saying but from my perspective, we should all respect each others freedom to believe and practice whatever they believe and practice. Simple respect for another human transcends religion and secularism and speaks to us as civilized people inhabiting this planet. Our problems arise when we start with the insults and the belittlement – here's the only true fact in any of this from either side – no body can prove anything. Atheism can't disprove God and religion can't prove God. This is about what we all believe. So live and let live folks. Just because I don't believe as you do doesn't mean I need to troll you.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Amor DeCosmos

      What is it with illiteracy and Christianity? Is it causal or correlated ? Seriously, look at the atheist rants vs. the Christian rants on this page. There are way more illiterate Christian than atheist comments on here...

      July 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • Maizey87

        Because there is a direct correlation between education and lack of belief in the 2000 year old fantasy. Once you become educated and think for yourself, it is difficult to buy in to the myth. You learn that you and only you are responsible for your actions and that you choose to do the right things simply because it's right, not because someone has to threaten you with eternal damnation.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Austin, plenty of SANE people are dangers to society. I would never accuse you of that solely because you're nuts.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • QS

      The religious themselves create the ease by which we are able to mock them.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Anglican

        @QS. You speak a good fight. Into mocking, are you?

        July 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • QS

          Actually no, I'm not – it's just the best sledgehammer I've found to hammer away at the brick wall that is the religious mind.

          July 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Paul

        What is it about yourself that makes you want to mock anyone? Why mock at all? I'm sure that people from the year 2250 will look back and mock what science calls facts today. Why not take the high road? Aside from religion or non-religion why do some feel the need to troll – I think that as far as a civil society goes – the lack of civility in social media interaction is as big a plague if not greater than the topic under discussion here.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • QS

          See my comment above.

          I don't enjoy mocking them, they just leave no other option for many of us because, as I said in my comment above, the religious mind is a brick wall and to get through it we must use a sledgehammer to even let the tiniest amount of reason and logic in.

          And I'd love to take the high road, but with how religion is these days I can only see that as a dereliction of duty somehow to simply stand aside and allow this corrupt corporation to continue its disgusting and discriminatory practices!

          July 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      When you come here and condemn others for not believing as you do but yet sit back insisting that your dreams are evidence and tell us how you once were like us, up until the night that you got drunk-got behind the wheel of your car-drove it in to a building, you get what you deserve.
      In your eyes, it is due to my disbelief that I am going to 'hell', yet I work; I have never gotten drunk and drove my car; I do no harm to others; I'm charitable; I love my husband, my fur-babies, my daughter, my family, etc.
      Yesterday you made the claim that separation of church and state should not exist. That everyone should be under christian law. How is taking away peoples basic rights normal?
      Your dreams/writings/whatever are not substantiated by evidence outside of you and do not count as evidence for your god, yet no matter how many times this has been reiterated to you, you refuse to open your mind and continue to make the claim they are. Now your priest may support you but he gets paid to keep people believing.
      Don't scream foul and pull out your persecution card when you can't even look in to the mirror of your own life.
      When you start to back off on the crazy dreams being evidence and you start to back off on condemning others, we will back off also, until then the back lash will continue...turn about is fair play.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  3. Mentalle Condeshawn

    Yep, this article confirms that a lot of atheists are arrogant bullies.

    Why they have this need to be shrit disturbers and "challenge" and silence those with a Christian belief system is beyond me.

    Also, why they never go on attack against Muslim or any other organized religion is quite telling of their level of courage.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      So atheists merely voicing their opinions while being oppressed by religious doctrine is being a bully? You sure have a twisted view of reality.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Blair

      Oh believe me, most of us detest Islam as much as Christianity and every other religion. We detest anything that obscures the search for truth. Most of the religious people commenting here are talking about Christianity so its only natural to the subject at hand.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        One of the things I liked about Anthony Flew is he said he wanted to go where the truth led. I wonder whatever happened to him?

        July 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Blair

          He got old, converted at the age of 81 as the result of senility.

          July 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          May your search lead you likewise.

          July 31, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
        • Doobs

          Because that's what it takes to believe, senility of some sort.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Christians are misguided.
      Muslims are misguided.
      Jews are misguided.
      Hindus are misguided.
      Buddhists are misguided.
      All religions are based on ignorant superst¡tion, wishful thinking, and/or psychological terrorism.

      There! Happy now?

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

      Considering how adamantly and violently Christians have squashed dissenters throughout history, your statement is kind of ironic.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Amor DeCosmos

      We only challenge Christians when they want to break the law, like put up religious symbols on government land, control women's bodies, deny civil rights to certain groups they find icky... If Christians would just silently pray in their homes and church, we wouldn't be having this problem. When Christians drag their supernatural beliefs into the public forum and try to make laws based on those supernatural beliefs... when Christians think they should get special privileges promoting their religion above all other belief and lack of belief systems... then yeah, I'm going to stand up and do everything I can to silence you. Keep your belief in fiarytales to yourself and we absolutely will not have a problem.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • QS

      Awww...poor wittle Cwistian – you are finally realizing that you as a zealot can dish it out but refuse to take it when your own tactics are used against you.

      I have absolutely no sympathy for religious people who feel they are now victims of "bullying" when that's all they've done to others for time immemorial!

      July 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      We take issue with all organized religions, not just Christianity. It happens that in the US, Christianity dominates the landscape. You don't see Muslims pushing for creation to be taught in schools. You don't see Muslims pushing for Allah to be on the dollar bill. You don't hear about Jainists pushing for their diety to be referenced in legislation.

      You are mandated by your faith to preach the gospel. We are mandated by reason to call out such claims as unfounded. That you see the call for reason as bullying shows your fragile belief in your faith.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • Cyle

        R'amen

        July 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "Buddhists are misguided." Just so you know, Buddhists do not actually believe in any God and are essentially atheists, as was the Buddha.

      "The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed." Buddha

      July 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • T

        True, but they do make supernatural claims. There's no evidence for reincarnation, for example, yet it is still a belief that is held.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          They do not believe reincarnation to be supernatural but absolutely natural. And the Buddhists I've spoken with believe it to be more of a re-purposing of our matter and energy. We are all made of re-purposed star dust so the evidence for that is very real and tangible.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • bil t

      "... never go on attack against Muslim or (other) religion ...", clearly you're not paying attention, or ignoring evidence contrary to your conclusion, at least you're consistent.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Paul

      The issue here today is the lack of respect that we have for each other in general. Non-Christians go after Christians, Muslims go after infidels, democrats go after republicans, conservatives after liberals...ad infinitum....give it a rest folks. There is one rule that appears in all religions an appears is more motherly advice than any other – "Treat other people the way you'd like to be treated." The religion argument is the dumbest of all because it has no basis in empirical truth. Not all believers are raving lunatics and not all non-believers are disrespectful. Good and truth lies somewhere in the middle.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Denise

      And your comments show how condescending christians can be to Atheists. I do not tell my own parents I do not believe in god becasue they make athiest jokes all the time. My own sister would probably not let me be around my nephew if dhe knew as well. The Christians that do know I am an athiest talk to me about religon like I am a 3 year old. Which can be frustrating and make me angry.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  4. t2vodka

    I hope one day there will be zero religion in the world. That will be one less thing for humans to fight over.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • mason

      Totally agree. But overbreeding & fostering ignorance by Catholics & Muslims may make this impossible before our species is extinct

      July 31, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • RC in Southern California

        ....But overbreeding & fostering ignorance by Catholics & Muslims may make this impossible before our species is extinct

        Spoken like an intolerant, fundamentalist Christian, the primary reason THIS country is in trouble, and the world, with their message spreading missions.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  5. ANCampbell

    Atheism is not a religion. Have any of you "Christians" ever look up what atheism actually is? Jeeze

    July 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  6. bens772

    You know, I could sit here all day and longer and try to convince you but it doesn't work that way. There was a time when I was in the exact same place that you're in today. I wanted proof beyond a shadow of a doubt. I wanted to see Noah's Ark with my very own eyes and walk through it. Although that probably wouldn't have convinced mr either. Ma is ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. The wisdom of man says seeing is believing but God says if you believe then I will show you. This is the truth that every Christian knows. Every Christian was once at the very same place you are at. You can't find it with finite brain my friend, you have to find it with your heart.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • sybaris

      Ah yes, the plea from ignorance.........."I was just as ignorant as you are but I pushed the "Believe Button" and viola! There's gawd!!

      Uh........if you had been born and raised in Egypt about 6,000 years ago you would be worshiping Ra. If you were in Greece it would be Zeus. 1,000 years ago in Central America you'd be worshiping Quezacotl.

      The god you believe in is just a roll of the dice my friend.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • c-lo

        "a roll of the dice..." Maybe so, but at least I'm willing to get in the game and make a bet, where as athiests don't even believe there is a die on the table...

        July 31, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • Baldie

          You're proud of the fact that you're willing to pick 1 fairy tale out of thousands and believe it is true? Why is that something to be proud of?

          July 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • Doobs

          On the contrary, many of us have played several different games, and have finally come to the realization that the games are scams, rigged to pay out only to the house.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
        • c-lo

          @Baldie–
          Almost as proud as you are to admit that you are unable to believe anything you can't see past your own nose. Like many, you are probably in the "if you can't prove it to me, you're an idiot" crowd. Until you have had your own experiences, or are able to open your mind to understand and believe in the witnessing of others, then there is no discussion/debate to be had. We can sit here and type 'till our fingers rub to the bone, and there will never be any ground made, because other than agnostics, there is no middle ground.
          Before you jump down the "logic/scientific..." or, as the author likes to cite the misnomer of anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay...I was raised Methodist, abandoned "the church" in junior high, studied physics (including molecular and astro-physics as an undergrad) and the more I've seen, heard and studied in humans and nature, the further I become convinced He exists. I have the utmost respect for all humans, regardless of the usual "discriminatory" criteria. Having 2 daughters, I would pummel any idiot that treated them the way atheist believe Christians treat women. And I would have a serious discussion with them if abortion were ever a topic of discussion for many reasons that can be debated in a different forum.
          Actually, I have found that I dislike all people equally 🙂 Don't know that I was ever agnostic, definately not athiest, but the furthest I went down "that" road would have been deist.

          July 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • c-lo

          Doobs–unfortunately, you are correct, and I feel the same way you do, however, I have found the table that I beleive preaches correctly, is accepting of all, and is interested in the path of Jesus that insists on 2 major tenents of human experience:
          1. Be responsible first and formost for yourself and provide what you can
          2. For those who are less fortunate, provide to them (specified in the Bible as widows and orphans, but extends to those who are incapable).
          But yes, you are right, there are MANY rigged tables in these casinos!

          July 31, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Well, if you're gonna go with "Every X was once Y" as if it has some kind of logical coherence or persuasive power, note that atheism is simply the absence of any belief in gods, so every newborn — who has no beliefs of ANY kind — is by definition an atheist. So every Christian was once an atheist ... until the brainwashing took hold.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • c-lo

        "so every Christian was once an athiest..." So not every Muslim, Jew, Hindi, Bhudist...? Also, if this were true, then the "concept" of God should have never come to fruition, if all we believe is only what we can see in front of us, and were born with no knowledge/concept of God, or "a god" if you prefer.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Yes, yes, every Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. as well. Geez, do we have to spell EVERYTHING out for you? That's what lack of logical thinking apparently leads to.

          July 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
        • c-lo

          No, Richard's Russell, but it is interesting that the so-called atheists on this blog insist on only calling out Christians. Kinda shows that you can be just as biggotted as you want to claim others are. It seems that, by the posts I see, a number of you choose to hate others based on their beliefs–as the e-trade baby says, "That is FROWNED UPON in this establishment."

          July 31, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  7. George

    What do the atheists have to gain by stripping away faith and hope from people? How sad that an atheist can only be defined by criticizing someone else's belief; that is, but for the fact that there are people who believe in God, there would be no such thing as an atheist.

    I think atheists are sad, malcontents, seeking to make others share in their misery and their purposeless lives.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • sybaris

      You don't know Atheists

      July 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • sly

      George, I'm sorry that there are some athiests that make fun of you religious folks.

      Not me ... I haven't spent 15 minutes thinking about religion in my life, and the fact that you enjoy religion is great. I'm happy for you.

      But you must be confused to think us non-believers are miserable. I make about $350,000 a year, I'm going surfing this afternoon, followed by a visit to Mortons steakhouse with a beautiful woman. Life is great, and I spend every minute enjoying our wonderful planet.

      Sure hope you are happy also! Life is short – enjoy it!

      July 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  8. pangie

    Atheists, get over yourselves already. Some of the most attention grabbing younger people I know are atheists. Look at me, I am not conforming to your man made religion and other clever comments. You are not the first to think or say this and you are not special in any way.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • LOL

      Thanks for weighing in. You're right; this comment wasn't special in any way, and neither are you.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    The biggest problem with the label "atheist" is that it is inherently negative becuase it defines someone based on what they DON'T believe instead of making a positive assertion of what they do believe.
    I am a naturalist who believes that there is no existence save that which we experience directly (ie: no spiritual realm). I am also a rational anarchist who knows that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals.
    it is impossible to shift, share, or distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility etc. are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. Therefore, we should be rational and realize that not everyone will share the same evaluations of good and evil. We must try to live perfectly in an imperfect world, aware that our efforts will be less than perfect while trying to remain undismayed by self knowledge of failure.
    To me, that concept is central to Christianity. Jesus taught that we are all imperfect and must struggle to better ourselves.
    It seems that a lot of Christians lose sight of this core principle and get lost in sectarian dogma, arguing mythological minutiae.
    In the end, the definition of Christian is to live your life in the image of Jesus Christ. Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  10. travisgentry

    Science is more the root cause than "atheism". It makes a convincing, evidence-based case and actually tries to correct its own mistakes. Basically the opposite of the myths, which were created thousands of years ago by people who had no idea what kind of Universe they lived in. The more Science learns, the more silly it seems to hold onto outdated notions of fairy tales and imaginary creatures.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  11. sly

    Athiests spend their lives enjoying this great world, and why would an athiest spend any time thinking about what religious people do with their lives?

    The 15 minutes I've spent blogging on the religious page is about as much time as I've ever spent thinking about religion.

    I'm out here enjoying the beaches, the ladies, all the money I make, great food, my Niners Giants Warriors. Life is good. Enjoy it. If you want to spent life believin', enjoy that.

    I sure don't care what happens in Madagascar or Nepal, and I sure don't care what y'all discuss in your churches.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Kenneth

      Narcissist much?

      July 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • sly

      I guess if enjoying life makes one a narcissist. (I'm actually not sure what that means, but I'll take your word for it).

      July 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Thinker...

      My guess would be 'Troll'. Why else would you come onto a blog about belief, then spout off about how wealthy you are and that you never think about religion and how much you don't care about anyone else. Personally it sounds like he is actually not very happy and is looking for a rise from people to make himself feel better. Also his description of his life makes him sound fairly insecure as well. The only wealthy people I know that just throw it in your face are insecure and feel the need to show off how good they have it so people will pay attention to them.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jake

      Enjoy it; I do, too. Thing is, the religious do affect our lives by trying to make laws that affect us negatively. Anti-stem cell research is a good example, but only one of many.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I sure don't care what happens in Madagascar or Nepal'

      why?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  12. John Calvin II

    Jesus says it all and with the authority of God, that "men supress the truth in unbelief" and "men love darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil." According to the Son of God, people are leaving the church because they love the darkness that hides their sin.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • lol

      I don't know how many times it needs to be explained that citing and quoting fantasy/fiction does not make the quoted phrase any more non-fictional.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • LinCA

      @John Calvin II

      You said, "According to the Son of God, people are leaving the church because they love the darkness that hides their sin."
      It is far more likely that Jesus, if he ever existed as a single person, was the spawn of a rapist or a boyfriend of his mother. It is far more likely that Mary was raped or had a extramarital affair than that she was impregnated by any god.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • jbest8283

      You know it's a book right? Jesus was nothing more than a political activist. We conjured the "miracles".

      July 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      The fact that religion and in Jesus's case Judaism was being questioned by it's followers wasn't new's to Jesus. He was a focal point for good Jews to leave the church. Calling it darkness in that time period only refers to "not" knowing or ignorance. It does not carry the same negative that we may associate with it today. Especially when quoted from an enlightened man who is trying to convert people not scare them away.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      all these people leaving the church because apparently they are evil and sinful.
      way to win friends and influence people.

      July 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  13. flying spaghetti monster

    Hey Christians!! Try this little test. First, read this passage:

    21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
    23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19 New International Version (NIV))

    Okay, now, go to the website "globalrichlist" and enter your yearly income. Based on my own times using this website, if you are an american receiving even minimum wage, you will be among the top 10% wealthiest people in the world.

    Now... what do you think your god would say about that?

    July 31, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • AE

      I think God would say, don't be like the man Jesus is talking about in these verses.

      That man asked Jesus a question – and was afraid to follow Jesus because he might lose all the money and possession he had.

      Jesus wants all of us. Not just part of us. If you place possessions before Jesus, you won't truly find Jesus.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jar

      He is your God too. You should ask him.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • flying spaghetti monster

        Is this your way of avoiding thinking about the fact that you are what jesus would have called a rich man? Or am I wrong and you've given up all of your possessions?

        July 31, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  14. Mark

    I call a Presbyterianchurch my church home. There is a great balance of age groups,a loving community, and a consistently excellent message from the pastor and associate pastor. Those factors would explain why after several successful church plants, we have to seriously consider holding two services Sunday morning as our sanctuary is quite full consistently. The article claims that the church is pushing people away, which surely explains the large and very active group of 20-somes in the church.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Ulster Defense League is a very inclusive, civic minded group.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  15. BuffaloKid

    Christ said he came to save the whole world, not individuals. But he also said that his message would pit father against son and brother against brother – to set the world on fire. I find it troubling that his message divides our society so. No other person in history requires us to examine our own beliefs so deeply. But, perhaps that is part of the plan, which I do believe exists. Be careful, non-believers. God is reading these comments!

    July 31, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Starman

      Yet he then flooded it in a tinny bopper rage fit... murdering millions and millions of innocent children (aka the flood). Oh this dogma logic is so ridiculous.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • mason

      Sorry, the theistic God is on his death bed going the way of all the man made Gods.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      If God is really reading these comments, why did he send BMKinz to be his mouthpiece? Seems counterproductive to me.

      July 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  16. travisgentry

    Science is the most convincing thing of all.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      ...until the funding runs out. 🙂

      July 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • travisgentry

        Science takes place whether there's "funding" or not. The people that shattered the earth-centric view of the universe didn't have funding.

        July 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Thinker...

          Sure they did. They all had lots of money. Nearly all the great minds before the Imperial age had plenty of money or got a noble or wealthy merchant to bankroll them. That was the only reason they could spend the time needed to study anything. Most people of the time worked constantly to feed their families and themselves, and there was no money in research at the time (except for alchemy). Gallileo had a telescope; that sort of thing was very expensive for example. How much time could you spend on thought and experiments if you had to work sun up to sun down just to make enough money to live in the city.

          July 31, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
      • travisgentry

        Also, do you think the church would exist without fleecing money from it's followers?

        July 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  17. David Wenbert

    A Pox on Both Your Houses! The hard scientific evidence from empirical laboratory research, replicated over and over is that the Transcendental is *REAL*, that some ineffable human Quantum Consciousness (or "Soul") is the ultimate arbiter of ambient physical reality, cohering matter from the probability waves which permeate the quantum vacuum. The hard reality is that Quantum Spirituality is the ultimate 'Truth', we are Souls, not these meatbags we're temporarily walking around in here and now; we are beyond the 'here and now'. We are immortal, eternal, nonphysical, incorporeal, and merely inhabit biology, it is not who or what we really are. We are One superconsciousness, existing in quantum superposition. God is Within Us, and We are Within God, there is no "Other". The Is Only One Of Us Here.

    All of the Faitheists have it wrong. Science does not support Materialism, it refutes it decisively; it also refutes 'Scripture'. It is time to adopt the more mature 'Evidence-Based Spirituality' that the millions of Bleepers out there have found, in the larger quantum reality of their own experience.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Baldie

      I think even the hardenend athiest and fundamentalist believer can get together on this one...

      WTH are you talking about?

      July 31, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  18. Jon

    Gotta love how the "Friendly" atheist writes liberal Christians like me out of existence except when he's looking for an excuse to say that even Christians don't believe what he insists is unalterable Christian doctrine. Who are you, Hemant Mehta, that you get to define me? Who are you that you get to define what counts as being a devout Christian and brand those who don't conform to your expectations as liars, hypocrites, or cowards? Atheists like you are as bad as the fundamentalists and the (mostly Southern) racists who try to excuse their racism by claiming that racial epithets are just about behavior.

    July 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • josiferg

      @jon
      he is not defining you. he is just telling facts about god believers. can you not distinguished them. sometimes to those so devotedly believers, when facts are are presented to them, they don't like it. some rant like you. don't get me wrong. just stating

      July 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Gotta love how the "Friendly" atheist writes liberal Christians like me out of existence except when he's looking for an excuse to say that even Christians don't believe what he insists is unalterable Christian doctrine.'
      He didnt say anything like that. He said what the common criticisms are.

      'Who are you that you get to define what counts as being a devout Christian and brand those who don't conform to your expectations as liars, hypocrites, or cowards? '
      Where did he call anyone liars, hypocrits or cowards?

      July 31, 2013 at 3:37 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.