August 2nd, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Why millennials need the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - For a time, I counted myself among the spiritual but not religious, Christian but not churchgoing crowd.

Like many millennials, I left church because I didn’t always see the compassion of Jesus there, and because my questions about faith and science, the Bible, homosexuality, and religious pluralism were met with shallow answers or hostility.

At first I reveled in my newfound Sunday routine of sleeping in, sipping my coffee and yelling at Republicans who appeared on ”Meet the Press.”

But eventually I returned, because, like it or not, we Christian millennials need the church just as much as the church needs us. Here’s why:


As former Methodist bishop Will Willimon has often said, “you cannot very well baptize yourself.”

In a culture that stresses individualism, the church satisfies the human need for community, for shared history and experiences.

And in a world where technology enables millennials to connect only with those who are like-minded, baptism drags us - sometimes kicking and screaming as infants - into the large, dysfunctional and beautiful family of the church.


“Sin” is not a popular word these days, perhaps because it is so often invoked in the context of judgment and condemnation.

But like all people, millennials need reminding now and then that the hate and violence we observe in the world is also present within ourselves.

We can be too idealistic, too convinced we can change the world from our iPads.

The accountability that comes from participation in a local church gives young Christians the chance to speak openly about our struggles with materialism, greed, gossip, anger, consumerism and pride.


While the flawed people who make up the church can certainly inflict pain on each other and sometimes on the world, we also engage in the important work of healing.

At their best, local churches provide basements where AA groups can meet, living rooms where tough conversations about racial reconciliation occur, casseroles for the sick and shelter for the homeless.

Millennials who have been hurt by the church may later find healing in it.


Like a lot of millennials, I am deeply skeptical of authority - probably to a fault.

But when I interact with people from my church who have a few years and a lot of maturity on me, I am reminded of how cool it is to have a free, built-in mentoring and accountability program just down the street.

We can learn a lot from the faithful who have gone before us, and the church is where we find them.


One of the few things the modern church has in common with the ancient one is its celebration of the sacred meal— the Eucharist.

There is simply not the space here, nor in many volumes of theology for that matter, to unpack the significance of remembering Jesus through eating bread and drinking wine. But when I left the church, it was Communion I craved the most.

Churches may disagree on exactly how Christ is present in these sacred meals, but we agree that Christ is present. And millennials, too, long for that presence.

There are some days when the promise of Communion is the only thing that rouses me from bed on Sunday morning. I want a taste of that mystery.


Many churches practice a rite of initiation, sometimes called confirmation.

Theologian Lauren Winner, in her book “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis,” quotes a friend who said:

“What you promise when you are confirmed is not that you will believe this forever. What you promise when you are confirmed is that that is the story you will wrestle with forever.”

The church, at its best, provides a safe place in which to wrestle with this story we call the Gospel.

Union with Christ

Those who follow Jesus long for the day when their communion with him becomes complete, and Jesus promises this will happen through the church.

The apostle Paul compared this union to a marriage. Jesus describes it as a banquet.

No matter what the latest stats or studies say, Christians believe the future of the church is secure and not even “the gates of hell” will prevail against it.

As much as I may struggle to fit in sometimes, as much as I doubt, question and fight for reforms, I am a part of this church, through good times and bad, for better or worse.

The astute reader will notice that each of these points corresponds loosely with a sacrament—baptism, confession, the anointing of the sick, holy orders, communion, confirmation and marriage.

Some would say there are many others. We could speak of the sacrament of the Word or the washing of feet.

But even where they are not formally observed, these sacraments are present in some form in nearly every group of people who gather together in the name of Jesus.

They connect us to our faith through things we can eat, touch, smell and feel. And they connect us with one another.

They remind us, as writer and Episcopal priest Sara Miles put it, that “You can’t be a Christian by yourself.”

This is why I haven’t given up on the church, and I suspect why it hasn't given up on me.

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 her.

Evans has written two previous posts for CNN's Belief Blog: Why millennials are leaving the church; and Not all religious convictions are written in stone.

[twitter-follow screen_name='RachelHeldEvans']

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Faith • Opinion • United States

soundoff (4,825 Responses)
  1. jamessavik

    I'm guessing it's the same reason a fish might need a bicycle.

    August 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • jkflipflop

      WIN. Post of the day.

      August 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • andreas

      Thank you! You just made any other comment superfluous!

      August 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  2. boredofceleb

    Haven't even read this article, nor do I intend to. As soon as I saw the topic, I thought to myself - "yet another article by CNN to incite the USELESS arguing between the Christians and Atheists." We've already heard all the opinions from previous similar articles. CNN knows that Theists and Atheists crawl from under their rocks in rancor, wielding big sticks at one another when they see this–hence the number of hits on it is enormous. And yes, I realize that by my clicking on it contributed to that. But just had to state how unproductive and useless it is as these dogmatic people are not going to even convince ONE person to change their viewpoint.

    August 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I think that many of the discussions do serve a purpose and many arguments do convince people. It just doesn't happen fast enough for us readers to appreciate. A good argument is a good argument, and you never know when someone will read it, understand it, and be convinced by it. A "pearl before swine" might be lost for now, but that doesn't mean someone won't recognize it and use it in the future or pick it up without you realizing it.

      August 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Paul S

      "But just had to state how unproductive and useless it is as these dogmatic people are not going to even convince ONE person to change their viewpoint."

      I was once religious and am now an atheist. People don't change their minds over night but the arguments they hear from the other side leave imprints that in the long term can cause them to reconsider their beliefs. BTW, as a scientist, I seek to dispel dogma as much as possible. Even if I don't completely succeed, I am different from a religious person who celebrates their dogmatism.

      August 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      You didn't bother to read the article but that didn't prevent you from weighing in on what it's probably about? Your parents must just be so proud of you.

      August 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  3. snowboarder

    community is good, but it can not be solely found in a church. as for the rest, it is simply hokum.

    August 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • RC

      Frankly, I can find truer experiences in the bar than I have found in the church.

      August 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Aulton

      The only community that could possibly be found in a church is one that is rotten to the core.

      August 5, 2013 at 12:04 am |
      • jaynesbooks

        Really? I actually have found more community than if I wasn't in church; I have gained many friendships over the course of the years and if it were just dependent on sources outside of the church, I would have very few friends. You clearly have a very narrow view of what the church offers.

        August 5, 2013 at 3:58 am |
  4. James Quinn

    I stopped reading after the first list of needs we are suppose too have. I don't have any such needs. Nor wants for that matter. Never had a need noir want for faith either. It never stuck on any level with me.

    Pagan jim

    August 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  5. PraiseTheLard

    Millennials need the Church like they need a hole in the head... They need an education, something that runs counter to the brainwashing to be found in all churches, synagogues, mosques...

    August 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  6. whee

    We millennials have simply realized you can accomplish all of these things and more even without the church. 🙂 Find happy friends and happy communities that find the good in people. All the good feelings, none of the having to sit next to a crazy lady who hates gay people and other crazy bible-thumpers.

    August 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      The world needs bigoted old people. It keeps things nicely balanced.

      August 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • boredofceleb

        Here's probably what will be the most interesting part of this thread: What exactly did Dave ask you to do?

        August 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • snowboarder

          it is a 2001 space odyssey reference from hal the computer.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Open the pod bay doors.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • DAT

          Are you truly that deprived in your “cultural education” or are you just trolling? Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I'll assume you're not a troll. In that case, here's a hint: watch “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

          August 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  7. debaser71

    Dear god, please protect me from those who believe in you.

    August 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • james

      What are you doing here?

      August 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • Doobs

        I don't want to speak for anyone, but it appears that debaser71 is posting a comment in the comments section of a belief blog on CNN.

        August 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • UncleBenny

          That would seem to be the case.

          August 4, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  8. palintwit

    " Watching the GOP establishment try to herd Sarah Palin and her Tea Partiers is a bit like watching someone attempt to uncrap their pants."

    August 3, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      palintwit is in love.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • palintwit

        I'm in love with the idea of a Palin-free world.

        August 3, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          We'd live in a much sadder world without Palin.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Why would the world be sadder without Palin? Because we would have one less bozo to laugh at? What are her top three contributions to the advancement of civilization?

          August 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Her hotness, comedic value and the invention of the word squirmish.

          Contrast this to Obama. What has he contributed to humanity?

          August 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      That's about as apt a description of the GOP right now as any I've read.

      August 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    so ... to Rachel the church is a social club with a magical, imaginary theme, with lots of primitive rituals and feel good fellowship.

    poor lonely Rachel needs friends and a feeling of belonging in her life, and she will make herself "believe" any foolishness to get them.

    August 3, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Doobs

      She'd find better company at Comic Con.

      August 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      It's insulting to dismiss somebody's worship as a "social club," though every human activity that involves other human beings is "social" in nature. If you want to pray in solitude, you can do that from home. You don't even have to leave your bedroom. But people do look to other people for human comfort. One may wonder why it's not enough to "pray in your closet," why it takes other people to "feel God's love," but make no mistake about it: People huddle together for warmth and doing so doesn't make their activity a "social club."

      August 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  10. palintwit

    The "Quitter", a former half-term governor, could not be elected as a Wasilla dog catcher in her home state again. We know her failures and shortcomings too well as an incompetent, vindictive, twit that can barely string a coherent sentence together. She bailed on her sworn duties to Alaskans when someone dangled a book contract in front of her. Oh, and she lost the last election for McCain.

    August 3, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      You must really, really, really want to bang Palin.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • Bill Kilpatrick

        Thirty years ago, maybe. But even flawless beauty isn't flawless when crazy comes screeching out of the pie hole.

        August 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • CTYank

        You sure seem to have the hots for her. Animal magnetism may be all Sarah has, besides snark. Sure not smarts.

        August 3, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
  11. palintwit

    Sarah Palin's entire schtick is repeating ridiculous lies and simply opposing things that liberals support for no other reason than to be a childish, annoying, troublemaker. It's clear that she has no actual values or ideas. Just narcissism and greed...and she's lazy with no work ethic. Anybody who would vote for her for a serious role in government is the epitome of a low information voter. ( in other words a typical Fox News viewer.)

    August 3, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Again, Sarah Palin is the greatest political figure in American history.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • Bill Kilpatrick

        Troll much?

        August 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  12. palintwit

    Bristol Palin's next novel should be hitting bookstore shelves soon. Her recent memoirs about her life as a drunk, pregnant teenager sold an astounding 1,500 copies and buoyed by this success she has worked very hard to write the sequel. Her adoring public expects no less because after all, the Palin family is known for not resting on their laurels as well as not being quitters.

    August 3, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      See below.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  13. palintwit

    "Sarah Palin’s leadership political action committee has taken a fundraising nosedive this year — and most of the money it has raised isn’t directly going toward helping her fellow Republicans seeking office, new Federal Election Commission filings show."

    August 3, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Palin is the greatest political figure in American history.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  14. Anny

    “What you promise when you are confirmed is not that you will believe this forever. What you promise when you are confirmed is that that is the story you will wrestle with forever.”

    Interesting quotation! The experience of confirmation is one of the things that keeps me identifying as Christian, even when I'm feeling disillusioned with Christian tradition and teachings. At times, it is my best response to religious pluralism- why am I Christian? Why not Muslim? Why not Baha'i? I could list reasons that Christianity is important to me, but I imagine something else would be important to me if I had been raised in another faith. Christianity is the path I chose in confirmation and the path I continue to choose because it is the tradition in which I am most grounded, my best hope of seeing God in a deeper way.

    August 3, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Really? I always thought it was just eating cardboard and gulping sacramental vino.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  15. Reality

    Let us update the various topics:


    Adam and Eve are myths making original sin mythological and Baptism symbolic.(Also taught in some graduate theology classes at many major Catholic universities).

    August 3, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Reality


      (1a) Matt 16:19

      (1b) Matt 18:18

      (2) John 20:23

      August 3, 2013 at 11:30 am |
      • Reality

        And what do some of co-ntemporary NT scholars co-nclude about these pa-ss-ages?:

        Professor JD Crossan's a-n-a-lysis:

        Item: 375
        Str-ata: III (80-120 CE)
        At-te-st-ation: Double
        Hi-stori-city: neg-ative

        August 3, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • Reality

          See http://wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/

          See also Professor Gerd Ludemann's review in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 197-198, 205-206, 575-581. His co-nclusion: the pa-ssages are h-istorically nil.

          Hy-phens added to some words to defeat the very irritating word/fragment filter.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • Bill Kilpatrick

        That's because of the Zero Property of Addition, the Zero Property of Subtraction, the Zero Property of Multiplication and the Zero Property of Division.

        August 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Reality

      The following should cover the rest of the author's topics:

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah/Argentine white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      August 3, 2013 at 11:39 am |
      • Buddy

        What a sad little delusional life anti-theists live.

        August 3, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Sad, maybe. Deluded, hardly.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • Reality

          Golf and other aspects of life are quite pleasant and to summarize for the new members of this blog

          The Apostles'/Agnostics’ Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

          Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
          and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
          human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

          I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
          preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
          named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
          girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

          Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
          the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

          He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
          a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

          Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
          many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
          and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
          Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
          grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
          and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
          called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

          (references used are available upon request)

          August 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Ani

          Don't judge all atheists by Reality; people don't judge YOU by Jerry Falwell...

          August 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  16. DWN

    Seems like an advertisement for the Roman church. A whole lot of ritual spellboundness and not much biblical substance. That's the CNN Belief for ya, constantly pushing left wing Catholicism.

    August 3, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Doobs

      Well, the pope's been in the news with his trip to Brazil for World Youth Week. The RCC is having a big push to get more young people involved, so it's not surprising to have follow up stories.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • revjoeyreed

      Have you read anything else she's written? Sounds like the perspective from which you are reading is slightly different than the one from which she's writing.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • HotAirAce

      If silly believers aren't complaining about cnn pushing atheism, they're whining about cnn pushing christianity. . .

      August 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • CTYank

      How can you talk "biblical substance" when the content of any included/excluded part of the bible is open to so many questions?

      August 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  17. Faith without works is dead

    Ah, the irony! Why does this woman keep judging others, more specifically the church. What's up with that?
    Well, you can't be a Christian if you are all talk and no works, you can't be a Christian if you don't acknowledge your sins, seek forgiveness from God and repent of your sins,
    We need more mother Teresa's in the world and less busybodies inside the church..

    August 3, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Doobs

      You mean the woman who collected millions in charitable donations from the likes of "Baby Doc" Duvalier and Charles Keating? The millions that the Roman Catholic Church put into their general use fund instead of building state of the art hospitals or at least buying some morphine for dying patients.

      Did you know that Mother Teresa's "hospitals" had very few medical personnel, that there was little more than a cot and a blanket and that dying patients received only analgesics like aspirin to alleviate their pain? No morphine. Probably too expensive for the millionaire nun. Did you know that she told those dying patients that their suffering was a "kiss from Jesus" but, when she was sick, she flew on private jets to the best and most expensive hospitals in the world?

      Did you know that we don't know how much she raised or where it went, but that none of it went to building better medical facilities than rooms with cots and non-medical personnel?

      August 3, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • Doobs

        Let me amend that a bit. The RCC didn't use the funds to build state of the art hospitals with real doctors and nurses, real medical equipment, real pharmaceuticals, sterile conditions and proper triage.

        They may have bought more cots and aspirin.

        August 3, 2013 at 10:59 am |
      • Sue

        Doobs, thanks for posting that, about that horrid "saint", a woman who was actually cruel almost beyond belief. It's appropriate that Catholicism is declining fast in places where the population is well educated.

        August 3, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Doobs

          You're welcome, Sue.

          I can't fathom how she could look at the overpopulation of Kolkata, see malnourished, suffering children, and still use her undeserved Nobel Peace Prize speech as a platform to rail against birth control and abortion.

          Far from delivering peace, she delivered unnecessary pain and suffering to helpless people, while brainwashing them that they had VIP status with Jeebus and taking their money.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • Merks

        Doobs, it may be my ignorance, but I've never heard these ideas about "Mother Theresa" before. I find many of her quotes inspirational, though I admit to not knowing much about her actual life. Can you point me to your sources? Thank you kindly!

        August 3, 2013 at 11:37 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)


          August 3, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • Doobs

          Merks, you can google "criticism of Mother Teresa" and find several good articles. That's all I did.

          She used the other spelling, Teresa.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  18. Jonah

    Amen! What would I be like if not for the church? As a teenager and young man, I was very introverted and did not like to associate with people much. Many years in church service has forced me out of my shell and made me a friendlier, more neighborly person. Judging from the behavior of my drunken, viking ancestors, I would probably be a wino as well. My chruch taught me from an early age to stay completely away from alcohol. Church teachings has given me a faith in my Savior that I can cling to when the world makes no sense and has taught me to act with the love of Christ toward my spouse and family. The church is everything to me and has definately given me a happier life.

    August 3, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      I get that same thing without the need of going to church. I surround myself with positive people. As for the alcohol issue, even your jesus turned water in to wine. Not all who drink become alcoholics.

      August 3, 2013 at 9:53 am |
      • AE

        If you surround yourself with positive people, how come you are so negative?

        You come to this board a lot. That is not surrounding yourself with positive people. You look for posts from Christians and other religious people, and say something negative about them. That is not being positive.

        August 3, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          What you see as negative, others see as positive. I believe telling religious people that their beliefs have no basis in reality is an entirely positive thing, just as I presume you believe telling people to worship Jesus is a positive thing.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • AE

          Coming on to a faith and belief blog, imagining that you live in reality and anyone you don't like doesn't, and then using derogatory and demeaning comments to harm that person is not being positive.

          In your mind, you are justifying and rationalizing your harmful behavior to make it acceptable to yourself.

          Anybody that can be honest with you, will point out that you are acting exactly like the Christian you profess to be better than.

          They go around preaching Jesus.

          You go around preaching your idea of reality.

          Most people don't do either. Just fundie religious people and fundie atheist people.

          You 2 actually have a lot in common!

          August 3, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          When christians stop treating others like they are not worthy, they won't get called out until that point their intolerance will be met with intolerance.
          There is a lot of negativity on both sides on this blog...it comes from you also, so stop the hypocrisy. The people I spend quality time with outside of the internet are usually positive people and if they portray hatred of any form without just cause, they get called on it.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          AE: Think hard here...what I believe in is that all people have the right to believe as they wish providing their belief does not impose on the rights of anyone else...how is that wrong??? My husband is also an Atheist and our lives are wonderful. We don't need a god or a belief to do good in this world.
          I believe in the evidence that science provides us in this world and in doing so it doesn't harm anyone.
          Do you believe that LGBT should be denied rights? Do you believe that abortion is wrong? Do you believe that birth control is wrong? These are sticking points because they impose of personal rights.
          I'd be more than content to live and let live if you did the same...once again until the intolerance from the christian side stops they will get two-fold from us.
          Your beliefs can't be taught in our schools and thus in the grand scheme of it, have little merit to anyone but the believers in your god.
          Respect is a two way street...christians need to learn this.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • AE

          You are the one who initiated contact with me and said a disrespectful thing.

          – Do you believe that LGBT should be denied rights?

          No I don't. My church fights for LGBT workforce rights, and welcomes all. We have LGBT serving in our congregation, a lesbian pastor preached in one of our services last month.

          – Do you believe that abortion is wrong?

          I don't think it is right. It is sad.

          – Do you believe that birth control is wrong?


          Do I know atheists that think LGBT should be denied rights.


          Do I know atheists that believe abortion is wrong.


          Do I know atheists that believe birth control is wrong?

          No. I've never met a person who said birth control is wrong. Ever.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that


          I don't like lots of people. I don't like liberals, hippies, people who use 'textspeak', anybody who goes to see Michael Bay movies, etc. I never said they don't live in reality. However, those who worship a Canaanite storm god (or war god, depending on the source) and his much less bloodthirsty hippy son don't live in reality.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "Coming on to a faith and belief blog, imagining that you live in reality and anyone you don't like doesn't"

          For people who claim to value truth you people sure do make up a lot of lies about atheist to attack us. There is absolutely no basis for that part about "anyone you don't like." It's rubbish. Why do you people have so much trouble dealing with reality?

          "and then using derogatory and demeaning comments to harm that person is not being positive."

          It's true atheists can be harsh and unkind, and I won't try to defend that, but I don't think you understand the anger and resentment a lot of atheists feel toward religion, and in this country, Christianity in particular.

          Like most believers who embrace the religious beliefs of the majority you live in a bubble that keeps you from understanding what others not like you have endured at the hands of Christians and other believers and you don't see how religious beliefs permeate so much of what we do, public policy, legislation, and so on.

          I not defending bad behavior, but it can be frustrating to try reasoning with people who consistently rely entirely on beliefs that can't be supported by objective evidence, quote scriptures, parrot mindless platitudes, and refuse to respond to any argument or logic you offer or any point you make.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:53 am |
        • AE

          – skytag


          August 3, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "No. I've never met a person who said birth control is wrong. Ever."


          "In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, "Human Life"), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence." — Catholic Answers

          August 3, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that


          I think Il Dulce, er, I mean Il Papa, was referring to artificial contraception.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • Sue

          Personally, I'd rather be disliked for standing by a reason-based viewpoint, however unpopular, than liked as a member of a group of deluded sheeple blindly following an obviously flawed, frequently wrong, self-contradictory, man-made mythbook such as the Christian bible. I think the latter set of people, frankly, are just weak, and are cowards.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • A Frayed Knot

          @I'm sorry Dave,

          Today the Catholic Church okays "Natural Family Planning" or the Rhythm Method, but this is a fairly new stance.

          The Rhythm Method of birth control wasn't even formulated until the 1930s, and although practiced by some Catholics, it was technically a "sin" until the 1950s (and, even then, the encyclical said use was permitted "under certain circ.umstances").

          For 19 centuries procreation was the only allowed reason for se.xual relations.

          Maybe the Church will come around someday about condoms too. The misery they have created in the meantime is horrid.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Yep, it's completely ridiculous. Surely the intent is what matters (reducing the chances of pregnancy), so why not allow all contraception instead of the ineffective 'natural' methods?

          August 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          AE: One more thing here, where exactly have I been disrespectful directly to you? I've gone over this page and not once have I insulted you. I have explained my stance in regards to your belief, just as you have explained your stance in regards to my lack of belief.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
        • A Frayed Knot

          "No. I've never met a person who said birth control is wrong. Ever."

          That's because you are not quite old enough to have been exposed to that preaching (see above). For centuries the stance of the Catholic Church, the Calvinists and many others was that s.ex (of course only within a marriage) was for procreation only... even deliberate abstinence was considered to be a "sin" for thwarting "God's" will.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
        • AE

          This is how you imagined my church is like:

          "..numerous other places to go for 'friendly' advice and help without the need to have a belief system shoved in your face."

          Implying that we shove belief systems in the face of other people is not very respectful.

          You also accuse us of making as.sumptions, and then you make lists of your own as.sumptions.(Many which are false)

          So how are you really any different?

          August 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • AE

          A Frayed Knot

          Yea, I've read the history about it. I've heard about the policies. And I know many never really agreed with the stance. I still haven't met anyone that is against the use of birth control.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • AE

          Jesus told the story of a priest and student who thought it was against God's will for them to help an injured man.

          And it was the Samaritan, who wasn't a holy man, that actually did God's will.

          Humans will still come up with rules and systems to obey God's will. But you don't have to believe them. Trust Jesus.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
        • AE


          I'm not Catholic. I follow Jesus, not the pope.

          In 1968!

          August 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • OTOH


          "Trust Jesus."

          Or Buddha, who said much the same things (even in your favorite style - parables) 500 years prior to the alleged Jesus's words.

          "Buddha: "If you do not tend to one another, then who is there to tend you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick." Vinaya, Mahava.gga 8:26.3

          Or trust deep-seated, natural human empathy, sympathy and compassion - no god necessary.

          August 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • OTOH

          p.s. along with rational, logical cause and effect.

          August 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • AE

          Without God, you would have no life.

          Instead of being so sure of yourself and certain that you are the role model for human empathy, maybe you should stop and think about how you got here?

          August 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          ""..numerous other places to go for 'friendly' advice and help without the need to have a belief system shoved in your face.""

          You don't seem to comprehend that I was not singling out one church nor was I responding to something you said. I'm sorry if you're offended but it's not just your church, it's all places of worship. I don't find the need for them. Just as you wish to attend a church full of like minded people, I wish to spend my time in the same manner.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        "You are the one who initiated contact with me and said a disrespectful thing."

        Really?? Go back in this section of comments. It would seem that I was directly responding to what Jonah said and that it was you that commented on my comment.

        As for your stance on the LGBT and abortion and birth control. Set aside the abortion issue because it is very controversial and I honestly don't think we'll ever come to a complete agreement. On the other two issues...kudos to you.
        I can't say I've met an Atheist that is against abortion but I'm also not oblivious to believe that there aren't any.
        The birth control issue...look hard at the RCC.

        August 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I'm absolutely 100% anti-abortion. I'm also pro-choice.

          Here's an interesting article on a pro-life atheist.


          August 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          Thank you Dave...another view is always good to read. 🙂

          August 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • Sue

        AE, the lack of reasonable thinking on that subject is your own. No matter how you try to spin things, if a god does exist, it is certainly not one such as the Christian bible describes. That we know obviously, and for certain.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Jesus loved the ol' Hebrew vino. I'd imagine it should be mandatory for Christians to get completely wasted daily.

      August 3, 2013 at 9:54 am |
      • Doobs

        Back in my parochial school days, the priest who said morning mass usually came to teach class a little wasted. One of them even joked about it. He would burp and then giggle, "Sorry, late mass today."

        It was common knowledge among the altar boys who liked their chalice full and who didn't drink much of Jeebus blood.

        August 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Damocles

      I'm forever amazed at the whole 'I'd be a raving lunatic if I didn't believe in a deity'.

      August 3, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • skytag

      What you describe is the church acting as a therapy group without the stigma associated with getting therapy. All of the benefits you describe were the results of your decisions and actions, encouraged by the people around you, not any supernatural powers acting on you.

      August 3, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  19. AE

    Nicely written! Confession, which some churches are starting to shy away from because "it doesn't feel good", has been one of the most amazing aspects of my new faith in Jesus Christ and experience of corporate worship.

    Where else do people admit their defects and short-comings together, renounce evil together and ask for help to overcome these problems together?

    August 3, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • midwest rail

      Any 12 step group.

      August 3, 2013 at 9:31 am |
      • AE

        Yea, 12 step groups. Asking God for help and confessing to God and other people your shortcomings and defects.

        At my church there is personal confession and community confession. I don't think 12 Step groups practice community confession.

        August 3, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      A crack den?

      August 3, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Damocles


      August 3, 2013 at 9:48 am |
      • AE

        Good point. Church is a lot like having a family.

        August 3, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • Sue

          No, a church is a cult. Big differences.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • AE

          How do you imagine my church is like a cult?

          Seriously, I'm familiar with what a cult is. We have too much freedom to be a cult.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • AE

          " In the West, the term has come to be used for groups that are perceived to have deviated from normative religions in belief and practice. They typically have a charismatic leader and attract followers who are in some way disenfranchised from the mainstream of society. Cults as thus defined are often viewed as foreign or dangerous."

          – Merriam-Webster

          That is what I'm as.suming a cult is .

          August 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Facebook, Twitter....numerous other places to go for 'friendly' advice and help without the need to have a belief system shoved in your face.

      August 3, 2013 at 9:49 am |
      • AE

        Yea, it is not asking for "friendly" advice, it is admitting weekly that we have failed to live up to not only God's ideals, but even our own personal ideals.

        It is much different from making a status update on Facebook. Plus, God promises forgiveness. Forgiveness is a big deal to God. And after confession, we receive forgiveness.

        What do you mean there is no need to have a belief system shoved in your face? What do you imagine actually happens in church?

        August 3, 2013 at 9:57 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          I don't accept that your god is real due to the complete lack of evidence for it, so there is nothing I am required to live up to. Churches offer you a false cure. Remember AE, only 2 billion people on the planet believe in your god...if you want your belief respected, attempt to respect the rights of others to believe as they wish also. I attended church for a great many years, so please don't make assumptions that you have no basis for. If you attended a mosque and then went to a christian church you'd comprehend what it is to have it shoved in your face.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:02 am |
        • AE

          Talk about having beliefs shoved in your face.

          Can you show me how a Christian should act? You seem to act just like the people you imagine you are better than.

          Why don't you act any better?

          August 3, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          I do not judge people based on sexual orientation or tell them what they should or shouldn't do with their bodies or how to raise their children in their own homes. I can't count the number of times I've been told that as a direct result of not raising my college educated, crime free, alcohol/drug free daughter that in turn I have doomed her.
          When christians stop treating others like they are not worthy, they won't get called out until that point their intolerance will be met with intolerance.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • AE

          At one point, when I was an atheist, I had to admit that all the things I didn't like about "other" people – were traits that I carried too. That was hard to admit. My pride and ego stood in they way from me seeing that I acted just like the people I professed to be better than.

          But it was true. And the truth prevailed.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:24 am |
        • Damocles


          Really? Simple common sense told me that I don't like people acting like jerks but also to recognize my own inner jerk. Heh, that almost sounds naughty..... anyway... the key is to recognize that everyone shares good and bad traits in varying degrees.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:33 am |
        • CTYank

          Do you ever give it a rest? You'll learn much more with your ears than your (big) mouth.

          August 4, 2013 at 12:09 am |
      • Damocles

        If your deity promises forgiveness what difference does it make where you make your confession? And after this confession, how do you know you receive forgiveness? This deity that supposedly knows your heart can only forgive you after you have told a bunch of people your darkest secrets? Does the actual deity come down and give you forgiveness, or is it the spokesperson for that deity that forgives you?

        August 3, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • AE

          I don't think it does matter. We don't gather just for forgiveness, but that is a part of it.

          I have faith (complete trust and confidence) that God forgives.

          –This deity that supposedly knows your heart can only forgive you after you have told a bunch of people your darkest secrets?–

          No. But to move on from a harm I've done someone it is important to confess the truth to another person. Otherwise I rationalize and justify my harmful behavior.

          Shedding light on a problem usually causes that problem to lose power. Hiding it as a secret causes it to grow and become more powerful.

          –Does the actual deity come down and give you forgiveness, or is it the spokesperson for that deity that forgives you?–

          God comes down from heaven and forgives.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Damocles

          So you do this weekly, you say? How many people do you bring harm to during the week? Is there ever a time where everyone had a good week so y'all just sit and stare at the ceiling because there's nothing to talk about?

          The actual deity arrives? Wow! What's it look like?

          August 3, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          after confession and forgivness there is a deep sense of peace and the guilt feelings disappear.Thats how you know.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Damocles


          So you don't know you have been forgiven until you get that sense of peace? Anything that you have confessed that you haven't received that feeling?

          August 3, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • AE

          I practice in corporate forgivness each week.

          I can't imagine any week where I haven't harmed someone. Even just a thought of anger toward someone while driving in traffic is a form of harm in God's eyes, according to Jesus.

          Even the pastor admits she too has failed and needs forgiveness.

          God comes down. God always comes down. He comes down for you – we just don't visibly see it with our eyeballs.

          And, yes, the sense of peace is telling.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:32 am |
        • Damocles

          So why only once a week? If you cause harm so often, why not everyday?

          August 3, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • midwest rail

          AE – Christians speak of being transformed, or "born again". One would assume this to be a dramatic change for the better. Why then is so much of contemporary evangelical Christianity characterized by arrogance and condescension ?

          August 3, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Are you a Buddhist?
          You keep quoting from Buddhist philosophy....oh, that's right you have the modified Buddha, the one that had to include a god, so they disguised the teachings of Buddha in the character of Christ and added to the Buddha's teachings a god, since Buddha was unconcerned if there were any gods or not.

          Forgiveness of others, do unto others, charity espessially for the suffering peoples...even the "born again" part ( enlightenment), non-violence etc, etc, etc, etc.

          I fyou follow Jesus, you already are actually a Buddhist, the Christ characters teaching were modeled after the Buddha, so you may as well go straight to the source and start studying about the Dharma

          August 3, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • AE

          -Why then is so much of contemporary evangelical Christianity characterized by arrogance and condescension ?-

          I'm sure they have earned that reputation.

          I know even after baptism, we still face sin, temptation and evil. We are supposed to take this up each day. Perhaps some wrongly think Baptism is some kind of protection from this world?

          After Jesus was baptized, he immediately faced evil and temptation.

          New atheists or internet atheists have that same kind of reputation.

          Perhaps it is a human condition, not just a Christian condition.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • AE

          –So why only once a week? If you cause harm so often, why not everyday?–

          Corporate forgiveness in church once a week.

          I try to confess in prayer every day, or throughout the day.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • midwest rail

          " New atheists or internet atheists have that same kind of reputation. "
          AE, I agree. Would it not be fair to assume that after being born again, an evangelical Christian would be less likely to exhibit such behavior ? Yet these comment boards prove that wrong every day.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • AE


          Nope! Not a Buddhist. But I do have many Buddhist friends. They don't consider me Buddhist.

          Buddhist's and Jesus Christ had opposite ideas about suffering.

          Buddhists try to avoid it.

          Jesus says to accept it and thank God.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:51 am |
        • AE

          I actually, in the real world, not on the internet, see Christians do more than atheists to help others.

          This is something I struggled with, because I felt Christians were so hypocritical and judgemental. But when I started to see what people actually did versus what they said, Christians were actually carrying out help to more people.

          On the internet I just see people talking about things.

          August 3, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          What Christians do has no bearing on the falsehood of their beliefs. I'm a lazy, selfish libertine who cares little for others. It doesn't make late Bronze Age superst.ition any less imaginary.

          August 3, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          "see Christians do more than atheists to help others"

          Really? what are you basing that on...oh , right, you just pulled that out of your a$$. Bearing false witness is one of your top sins, is it not?

          August 3, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • AE

          "see Christians do more than atheists to help others"

          Churches, in addition to providing a place of worship, also gather to help other people.

          Yes, people from all sides and walks of life are helping others. But in my experience, there is a great deal of help being done by Christians. More than this atheist was contributing.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • skytag

      "Where else do people admit their defects and short-comings together, renounce evil together and ask for help to overcome these problems together?"

      I thought that was one of the reasons for prayer. At least when you do in the presence of other people there is actually someone on the other end listening.

      I readily admit churches do a lot of good, and you've alluded to some of it here. I just want to point out that you don't need God for a group of people to do this for each other. A shared belief in God makes it easier to get people to form such groups, but God doesn't have to be real for this to happen, the people just need to believe he's real.

      August 3, 2013 at 10:59 am |
      • Walt

        Very nicely said Skytag....I just don’t understand that in this day and age we still believe in this invisible "daddy" in the sky. Live your life true with love and understanding for your fellow man not because "daddy" will send you to eternal damnation (how primitive....) but because it’s the right thing to do and it makes you feel good to help your fellow man.

        August 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • AE

          I act out of love, not fear.

          Eternal damnation is something fundie TV evanelicalists and internet atheists talk about.

          You are the one who brought it up.

          August 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.