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August 22nd, 2013
03:07 PM ET

Gay detective's mother booted from church

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(CNN)–The mother of a gay detective has been booted from the Tennessee church she attended for decades.

Elders at Ridgedale Church of Christ told Linda Cooper and two relatives that their public support for Kat Cooper, Linda Cooper's gay daughter, went against the church's teachings, local media reported. In a private meeting, reports say, Linda Cooper was given a choice: publicly atone for their transgressions or leave the church.

Linda left the church.

Kat Cooper is a detective with the Collegedale Police Department. This month, she fought successfully for health benefits for her same-sex spouse, Krista, from the town.

The Board of Commissioners passed a resolution allowing for same-sex partner benefits, becoming the first city in Tennessee to do so.

Along the way, the mother publicly supported her daughter. That support appears to have led to a rift with her church.

"My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That's it," Kat Cooper told the Times Free Press of Chattanooga. "Literally, they're exiling members for unconditionally loving their children - and even extended family members."

"Her answer to them ... is that she had committed no sin in her mind. Loving her daughter and supporting her family was not a sin," Kat Cooper's father, Hunt Cooper, told CNN affiliate WTVC. "There was nothing to repent about. They certainly couldn't judge her on that because that was between her and her God, and it was not their place to judge her for that."

"The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle," Ken Willis, a minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ, told to the Times Free Press. "The Bible speaks very plainly about that."

The news enflamed the passions of critics and supporters of the church's action.

A phony Facebook page for the church was created by one critic, who posted glib messages affirming same-sex marriage shortly after the controversy went viral. "There's nothing about girl on girl in Leviticus," one post reads.

Mary Sturdibint, a Collegedale resident, told WTVC, "I don't think they should be kicked out of church. If you're going to kick out someone, it needs to be the two that are same-sex that's married. I do believe in that."

Willis declined an on-camera interview with WTVC but released a written statement.

"This is an in-church private issue. Because emotions are so inflamed at this point, I choose not to comment any further," it read.

"The church is overseen by elders. I am a minister, not a pastor and therefore, do not have the authority to speak further on this. The news is getting mixed reviews."

Multiple calls to the church and the Coopers by CNN were not returned.

Church of Christ structure

What happens next for the small suburban church remains unclear.

There is no denomination to hand down an edict praising or condemning the local church's decision.

Churches of Christ are a loosely joined group of independent churches that are autonomous by design. There is no denominational oversight, formal structure or even a denomination headquarters.

Local churches are governed by appointed elders in a structure the church traces to the early followers of Jesus described in the New Testament, said Ronald Highfield, a professor of religion at Pepperdine University.

"They're organized in congregations with their own local leadership so that no other congregation, no set of congregations, no convention can exercise any ecclesiastical discipline over another congregation," said Highfield, who is also an elder in his local Church of Christ congregation.

While there are no documents or position papers by the church on the issue of homosexuality and how members ought to interact with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender family members, he said that on the issue of sexual orientation, churches in the denomination fall on a spectrum from progressive to conservative.

Most churches, Highfield said, hold a traditional Christian belief that sex is to be reserved for married men and women and that sex outside of that marriage arrangement is wrong, regardless of what the church believes about sexual orientation.

"There is an implicit covenant when you're a member of a congregation to adhere to the scriptures and the authority," he said.

So, he said, supporting a view that could be seen as undermining the teaching of the church could be grounds for excommunication.

Highfield was unfamiliar with this particular congregation until the story broke and said as for its decision, "whether it's just or fair, I'm not going to make a judgment."

Not a new issue

For decades, churches have wrestled with the issue of homosexuality, leading to splits and schisms of individual congregations and entire churches.

Some churches, like the Episcopal Church, have shifted from the traditional Christian position on marriage to now bless monogamous same-sex unions and perform same-sex marriages in states where they are legal.

While churches that have formally shifted their policies on same-sex marriage are in the minority, Americans' opinion of such marriage has shifted significantly from opposition to support.

A CNN/ORC poll conducted in June, when the Supreme Court was deciding the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act and the validity of a California law banning same-sex marriage, 55% of Americans said marriages between gay or lesbian couples should be recognized as valid. That marked an 11-point swing from 2008, when 44% of Americans said the unions should be legal.

The public outcry about the exile of the parents of a gay adult child from this Tennessee congregation seems to mirror this shift in public opinion.

Some pollsters and commentators have pointed to tension about same-sex marriage as a reason for an exodus from churches, particularly among young people.

Many mainline Protestant churches have seen a decline in membership, while pollsters have noted a steady increase in "nones," or people saying they have no religious affiliation. In its latest surveys, the Pew Forum on Faith and Public life puts "Nones" at 20% of the population.

Pew has also noted that at the same time younger Americans are leaving churches, older Americans are returning in a pattern that matches historical trends that have shown people become more religious as they get older.

Because there is no central office for Churches of Christ, reliable numbers on membership are difficult to come by.*

When the Ridgedale congregation next updates its membership rolls, it will be crossing out the Coopers. The family told the local newspaper they were devastated to leave a church where they had been active for 60 years.

For now, both the Coopers and their former church are standing by their own convictions, and after six decades of traveling together, they are heading in different directions.

 

*Update

Difficult, but not impossible. There are 12,438 Church of Christ congregations in the United States with 1.55 million adherents according to publisher 21st Century Christian's annual "Churches of Christ in the United States" which they have compiled since the 1970s.
H/t @BobbyRoss

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay marriage • Gay rights

soundoff (3,329 Responses)
  1. Sammie

    Cpt. Obvious

    Belief is very much a choice. You can't you have a compulsion from a dead stop. However, once the holy spirit comes upon you in Christ, then it can be somewhat of a compulsion. I call it a desire. I desire to do good, to love people, to worship God and to long for his word. There is only one God.

    August 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Madtown

      How come God has chosen not to share Christ, and the teachings of christianity, with all his equal human creations?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • LeaveTheStoneAge

      It is NOT a choice for most. Telling your children they will burn for eternity for being bad is one of the worst forms of abuse imaginable.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Akira

      Want to know what's not a choice? Gender attraction. The point of this story.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      since belief is a choice, i challenge you to do the following:

      1) pick something you don't believe in, like the Tooth Fairy
      2) believe in the Tooth Fairy, believe the Tooth Fairy really exists and flies into kids' rooms at night to taken the teeth under their pillows, leaving money
      3) wait 10 minutes
      4) now disbelieve in the Tooth Fairy, realize it's only a fairy tale

      were you able to do that? can you CHOOSE to believe in something and CHOOSE not to believe?
      of course not.
      you can't just choose to believe you're the king of france
      belief is not a choice - you believe something or you don't
      stop being silly

      August 22, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Snow

      akira.. prove it!

      August 22, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      since belief is a choice, i challenge you to do the following:

      1) pick something you don't believe in, like the Tooth Fairy
      2) believe in the Tooth Fairy, believe the Tooth Fairy really exists and flies into kids' rooms at night to taken the teeth under their pillows, leaving money
      3) wait 10 minutes
      4) now disbelieve in the Tooth Fairy, realize it's only a fairy tale

      were you able to do that? can you CHOOSE to believe in something and CHOOSE not to believe?
      of course not.
      you can't just choose to believe you're the king of f.rance
      belief is not a choice - you believe something or you don't
      stop being silly

      August 22, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
      • Snow

        Booty.. you well thought out argument is gonna be debunked in the first 10 mins of psychology 101 class.. try it.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      since belief is a choice, i challenge you to do the following:

      1) pick something you don't believe in, like the Tooth Fairy
      2) believe in the Tooth Fairy, believe the Tooth Fairy really exists and flies into kids' rooms at night to taken the teeth under their p.illows, leaving money
      3) wait 10 minutes
      4) now disbelieve in the Tooth Fairy, realize it's only a fairy tale

      were you able to do that? can you CHOOSE to believe in something and CHOOSE not to believe?
      of course not.
      you can't just choose to believe you're the king of france
      belief is not a choice - you believe something or you don't
      stop being silly

      August 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      since belief is a choice, i cha.llenge you to do the following:

      1) pick something you don't believe in, like the Tooth Fairy
      2) believe in the Tooth Fairy, believe the Tooth Fairy really exists and flies into kids' rooms at night to taken the teeth under their pillows, leaving money
      3) wait 10 minutes
      4) now disbelieve in the Tooth Fairy, realize it's only a fairy tale

      were you able to do that? can you CHOOSE to believe in something and CHOOSE not to believe?
      of course not.
      you can't just choose to believe you're the king of france
      belief is not a choice - you believe something or you don't
      stop being silly

      August 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      since belief is a choice, i cha.llenge you to do the following:

      1) pick something you don't believe in, like the Tooth Fairy
      2) believe in the Tooth Fairy, believe the Tooth Fairy really exists and flies into k.ids' rooms at night to taken the teeth under their pillows, leaving money
      3) wait 10 minutes
      4) now disbelieve in the Tooth Fairy, realize it's only a fairy tale

      were you able to do that? can you CHOOSE to believe in something and CHOOSE not to believe?
      of course not.
      you can't just choose to believe you're the king of france
      belief is not a choice - you believe something or you don't
      stop being silly

      August 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      since belief is a choice, i cha.llenge you to do the following:

      1) pick something you don't believe in, like the Tooth Fairy
      2) believe in the Tooth Fairy, believe the Tooth Fairy really exists and flies into kids' rooms at night to taken the teeth under their pillows, leaving money
      3) wait 10 minutes
      4) now d.isbelieve in the Tooth Fairy, realize it's only a fairy tale

      were you able to do that? can you CHOOSE to believe in something and CHOOSE not to believe?
      of course not.
      you can't just choose to believe you're the king of france
      belief is not a choice - you believe something or you don't
      stop being silly

      August 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      It's true that you can, indeed, brainwash yourself with enough drive and time for the dogma to win over in a very loose sort of smoothing hold, but in 99.999% of beliefs, we are compelled to believe as we do. Death compels us to believe a person is no longer living, and everyone would agree that you were crazy if you CHOOSE to believe that person was actually alive. If you were to get hurt, you would be compelled to admit that you are hurting and probably you will go get a.s.sistance.

      How many beliefs do you have, right now, that you have "chosen?" I'm curious. Do you choose to believe your residence is where it is every day? What beliefs have you chosen?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  2. thenook22

    Must be nice to have a church full of non-sinners.

    August 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  3. NorCalMojo

    I love to defend Christians, but that church is insane. She's lucky to be rid of them. I'm sure there are plenty of other church's who won't let their petty control issues interfere with her worship.

    August 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • LeaveTheStoneAge

      That sentence contradicts itself in so many ways.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
      • NorCalMojo

        No it doesn't. There are 10,000's of denominations of Christian churches. Only simpletons and bigots speak about Christianity as if it's monolithic.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
        • LeaveTheStoneAge

          But sir/maam, they all have control issues ... it's the root reason they exist in the first place.

          August 22, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  4. Sammie

    Observer

    I believe every word in the Bible Poly...Every word. I can back this up with the facts, how it has changed my life and others, many many facts Observer. This is the word of God...every word is his. Do you think the apostles were smart enough to write their parts without God directing them....they were a bunch of scared rabbits until the holy spirit came upon them. You can have the same spirit too.

    August 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Dave

      So, did you murder your kids for disobeying you? Have you killed any gay people?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • LeaveTheStoneAge

      For Pete's sake, stop lighting the bushes in your neighbor's yards on fire.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Observer

      Sammie,

      Do you support slavery like the Bible does?
      Do you support discrimination against women like the Bible does?
      Do you support discrimination against the handicapped like the Bible does?
      Do you support beating slaves and children with rods like the Bible does?

      As long as you are going to pick-and-choose verses against gays, why not pick the MORE IMPORTANT Golden Rule for a change?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      So give us some facts already.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Colin

      I believe every word in the Bible"

      Really? On what day was Jesus executed? I ask becuase the synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) have it on a different day to John?

      How did Judas die? I ask because Judas’ fate is itself told in two contradictory ways in the Bible. According to Matthew 27:5, Judas is overcome with remorse and throws the pieces of silver he had been paid for betraying Jesus onto the temple floor and hurries off to hang himself. In contrast, the Book of Acts, which was written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke, contains a much more colorful account of Judas’ demise. According to Acts, Judas did not throw the money on the floor of the temple, but used it to buy a field. He then spontaneously exploded in this field; “Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity, and falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst and his bowels gushed out.”

      Who was Jesus grand daddy, great grandaddy and great-great grandaddy. I ask beciuase Luke and Matthew are totally inconsistent on that too.

      Where were MAry and Joseph from? I ask because Matthew and Luke are inconsistent on that, too.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
      • Clark Nova

        Christians are able to believe two entirely contradictory things, either or both of them again contradictory to the evidence of their own senses. If they couldn't their heads would all explode.

        August 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      It's not the word of God. It's a collection of gospels written and selected by human beings. That's historical fact. I won't deny the spirit they were writing about is true and divine, but it's not a divine lawbook.

      If you mistake the letter for the spirit, you're doing your soul a serious disservice.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "I believe every word in the Bible Poly...Every word. I can back this up with the facts"

      +++ first off, i suggest you look up the word "fact". you can back up every word in the bible with facts? the ignorance in that statement begs me to ask you how old you are? the bible mentions talking snakes and talking donkeys - have facts to prove that, do you? the bible mentions unicorns, dragons, satyrs and c.cokatrice - more evidence to prove the existence of these creatures? the bible says there was a great flood that covered even mt. everest, which, considering the amount water on earth is more or less finite, is impossible - but you have proof? the bible says there was light before there was a sun, also impossible - but you have facts to show it is possible? and facts to show we are all products of an inc.estual relations between noah and his immediate family (as all other humans were drowned)? you have facts to show the earth is 10K years old as the bible says it is?

      you're arguments are irrational and silly at best.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Colin

      Hey Sammie, how do you deal with these?

      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)

      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)

      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)

      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)

      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)

      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)

      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)

      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)

      August 22, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
      • Niloc

        YAY!!!!! colin is playing the "if some of it's wrong, it's all wrong" game.

        Elementary philosophy gives people like him something to do and helps them feel worthwhile.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
        • Colin

          No, I am refuting his comment that the Bible is infallible. A self -contradi.ctory tome cannot, by definition, be infallible. Read the whole thread before you comment.

          August 22, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Actually to be factual that should say "... if the majority of it is wrong ..."

          August 22, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
        • Cedar Rapids

          He is responding to the claim the original poster made that they believed EVERY word in the bible is true.
          He was pointing out that is impossible because of contradictions within it.

          August 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • G to the T

      Did you know they were illiterate and so couldn't have written them (in greek no less)?

      August 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  5. DNA

    Ooops! You picked the wrong religion ... AGAIN!

    August 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  6. richard

    what kind of christians are these people – shameful !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • LeaveTheStoneAge

      The kind that have been misled into believing something that only serves the purpose of the religion's creators .. control.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Dave

      The standard kind. There's one or two decent ones, but the rest are just as bad as the "muslims" they hate, but have a lot in common with.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
  7. Bootyfunk

    it always makes me laugh when someone says churches bring people together...
    they bring people together of the same sect of the same religion of the same race.
    want to witness the most racially segregated time of the week in america?
    go to the south on sunday morning
    whites go to white churches
    blacks to to black churches
    latinos go to latino churches

    religion divides us

    August 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Stone

      religion does not divide us, we divide ourselves based on the "hate" we've been exposed to since birth.......

      August 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
      • LeaveTheStoneAge

        Well said.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  8. Sammie

    Colin

    God is real, Christ is real. The Bible has been proven factual time and time again. Other literature has helped prove the Bible correct. I have two colleagues in the Biblical Archaeology Society and are currently in various digs that are finding references to sites described in the Bible almost every week. Please Colin, don't pass this off as something ridiculous until you've at least taken a chance on it yourself.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      god is imaginary. try giving logic and reason a shot. believe in your brothers and sisters, not an invisible sky fairy.

      protip: you don't need god to be a good person.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • LeaveTheStoneAge

      Books found 2000 years from now will reference the great city of New York. Archeological digs will confirm its existence.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Colin

      The Bible includes tales of food (or manna) falling from the sky, people living to be hundreds of years old, unicorns, witches, superhuman strength, a man living in a whale’s belly (or a fish’s or sea monster’s) for a few days, a talking donkey, giants, a talking snake, a Worldwide flood, a stick turning into a snake, a river turning to blood, the Red Sea splitting and a dry rock spewing forth water.

      And all that is before you even get to the "New Testament."

      Of course I dismiss the bible. It is late Bronze Age mythological nonsense.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • PPJr

      God is about as real as Bigfoot or Pink Unicorn.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • Clark Nova

        Bigfoot MIGHT exist. God, not so much.

        August 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • Observer

      Besides some good morals, the Bible is also full of errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
      • Splishkid

        Exactly. Read Thomas Jeffersons Bible. He took out all the dogma and reprinted ( as u say) only the moral lessons

        August 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
      • Clark Nova

        And no good recipes. Who needs it?

        August 22, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Colin

      Years from now, archaologists will dig up Seattle. That doesn't make "Frazier" true..

      August 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • Splishkid

      Of course Jesus s "real" ( I assume you mean existed)
      No one disputes that
      He did not however perform miracles or rise from the dead
      He was a spiritual leader despised by the High Priests and Roman Govenor and therefore executed
      Not complicated

      August 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "I have two colleagues in the Biblical Archaeology Society and are currently in various digs that are finding references to sites described in the Bible almost every week"

      lol. so if i write a fictional novel, but mention a city that really exists, like Los Angeles, by your logic, the rest of whatever i wrote must be true because i mentioned a place that truly exists...? bad bad logic.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Akira

      England exists; therefore the Harry Potter books are factual.
      See where this is wrong?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Marc A. Ellis

      Sorry to blow your belief, but the bible was written by man, (men). So it's not holy, just a book...

      August 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • voyager

      Can you PROVE the existence of God? Of Jesus? If so, can you please provide it?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Splishkid

      No one discounts that a civilization lived in Canaan for thousands of years
      What is your point ?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      I think it was in the 1930s that the ruins of Troy were found.
      Does that therefore prove that Achilles really did fight a god and really was invulnerable everywhere except his heel because his mother dipped him in the river Styx as mentioned in the Iliad?
      That's the logic you are claiming in regards to the bible.

      August 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  9. Sammie

    Hey! You!

    God IS a Jealous God!

    August 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Akira

      God has emotions?

      August 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
      • LeaveTheStoneAge

        A god does not exist.

        August 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Colin

      Reaaly? Odd that an all powerful god would need to be "jealous" of anything – given that he can instantaneously rectify any situation that is giving him angst. That's the problem with attributing human emotions to an all powerful immortal being. Anything other than abject boredom makes no sense.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      jealously = insecurity

      August 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
      • LeaveTheStoneAge

        insecurity = religion

        August 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      Jealousy is an imperfection. How can God be imperfect?

      August 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Why would an all powerful and all knowing god be jealous of anything?

      August 22, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  10. LeaveTheStoneGAge

    Religion will eventually implode on itself and the world will finally be free of one of the main driving forces behind hate. Free yourself from this tyranny sooner than later. I and many others I know did years ago and we simply could not be happier.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  11. Sammie

    Colin

    Very creative Colin. God does have an interest in everything you do. Because he is with you in everything you do. Do you really wish to roll the dice that he doesn't exist and this is all ridiculous. Those are some pretty steep odds.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Pascal's wager is stupid for many reasons. And really, if the best you have is the "believe or burn in hell; therefore, pretend to believe until you do" line, then no thanks.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      It's not a matter of rolling the dice, I don't BELIEVE. Blame he who made me harder to convince than you. So long as O am honest in my disbelief, can I be blamed?

      Or, would god simply ignore the LIE that would be my claim of faith? I would imagine god looks poorly on lies.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Coli

      Hey Sammie.

      The logic encapsulated in your comment "Do you really wish to roll the dice that he doesn't exist and this is all ridiculous. " is called "Pascal's Wager." This is why it is a fallacy:

      a) Pascal's Wager assumes that there are only two options.

      b) Pascal's Wager assumes the Christian god doesn't care whether someone actually believes, or simply goes through the motions.

      c) Pascal's Wager discounts the price paid for belief before death.

      d) Pascal's Wager vastly overestimates the likelihood of the risk times the gravity of the risk.

      a. Positing only two options is ridiculous. There are, of course, thousands of possibilities when it comes to gods. Gods humans have believed in include Azura Mazda, Angus, Belenos, Brigid, Dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Allah Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, God, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Ganesh, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Shiva Thuno, Tir, Vishnu, Weyland, Woden, Yahweh, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, Saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Herne, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, Endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, Ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac and Zaramama

      Based on the evidence available for these gods, it is not reasonable to assume one is more likely than any of the others. To increase the odds of a positive outcome of this wager, the believer would have to believe in, and worship, every possible god, including the ones that haven't been invented yet. Aside from the drain on the available time, it presents the problem that quite a few of these gods are pretty selfish. They frown upon believers believing in other gods. In some religions that is enough to not be eligible for the reward (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      b. One cannot “choose to believe” something. That has to be an honest conclusion drawn from the facts. I could not “choose” to believe in the Hindu god Shiva or Leprechauns, for example, as that would make no sense. What I can do is SAY I believe or PRETEND to believe. But going through the motions and pretending to believe may fool your community, but it can't fool an all-knowing god. It is very unlikely that anyone would gain the ultimate reward for simply faking belief (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      c. The price paid for the belief position isn't nothing. It involves going through the rituals, day after day, week after week. It may have severe side effects on physical and mental health. $ex life may suffer for some, too.

      d. In estimating whether the cost of any given action is worth it, an evaluation of risk versus reward is in order. Here is where proponents of the wager say they have a leg up, as an eternity of perdition must be valued very highly. However if the concomitant likelihood is close to infinitely low, it balances out to close enough to zero to be ignored. If one were to take the believer’s approach, one should live about a mile down an abandoned coal mine, to avoid a very, very unlikely, but fatal meteor impact.

      When extrapolated to the extreme of a god, the math becomes meaningless. For e.g., if I posited a god a billion times more vengeful and gruesome than yours, would you drop your belief and run over to my super-god?

      August 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Colin

      I don't know where my "n"went. Maybe God took it...................

      August 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • Akira

        He eats n's.

        August 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  12. polycarp pio

    Anyone who stands for righteousness and calls sin,sin is now considered evil and those who do and promote and condone the sin are now seen as good. This nation has hit the moral skids and anything goes. Choose your side, will you stand for righteousness and be persecuted or will you stand for unrighteous and your own perverted sense of what is right and be applauded by those who are destined for eternal damnation. Your freewill choice. PP

    August 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Given that a huge percentage of every religion is demonstrably false, it's an easy choice. Xtianity isn't moral.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Observer

      polycarp pio,

      Skip the hypocrisy. There's virtually no chance that you believe every word in the Bible.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
      • What???

        I must agree with you Observer but I also must point out something too. First of all just because something is truly stated in the Bible doesn't mean it is a statement of truth. I believe every word in the Bible is truly a statement or instruction made by somebody but not every statement in the Bible is a statement of truth in relation to a Word from God. Here is a simple example: If I say that is a red bike. I have truly made a statement about a red bike, but unless there is a red bike there my statement is not the truth. The one constant about truth is that it must exist or there would be no reference point. There would be no math or science because the LAWS of math and science are perfect and infinite which is proof that the creator and creation was perfect. Nothing evolves to perfection it only becomes more efficient or grotesque devolving into a lower being or lower state of existence.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
        • Cedar Rapids

          Poor logic.
          Laws are used to describe what is observed. If the system does not match the law then it is not recognized as being a correct law.

          August 22, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • pothead

      blahblahblahblah

      August 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      I would choose my family over a church each and every time poly.
      I'm sure your family would be thrilled that you would choose the church first.

      August 22, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  13. steve-0

    What Would Jesus Do?? First–he would leave this church also

    August 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Clark Nova

      steve-0 said:
      "What Would Jesus Do?? First–he would leave this church also"

      He wouldn't have to. He was a Jew. No chance he'd join a no-neck Tennessee church, he'd be going to the synagogue (If they have synagogues or Jews in Tennessee).

      August 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  14. ray

    As you read the comments already posted, you can sense the hatred from both sides. Those who do not believe as a Christian do not understand what the scripture shown in the Bible says. They have most likely never really studied the Bible and the truths that it teaches. They have become their own gods and it is not to me to judge them. The same God that said judge not less you be judged and says to love your neighbor is the same God who in the end will judge each of us. I would rather take the risk of believing in God and accept the potential reward than to live a life that history teaches leads to destruction. History teaches us that immorality leads to the destruction of nations. Not in the 20 year or so time span, but longer. It is a risk worthy of the reward

    Second, to those of faith in God, all must recognize that there are those who choose to not believe. We are all planted in the same field of life, some to good and some to bad. It is not our place to judge those who do not believe, but it is the place of the church leadership to set a standard of conduct within the church. In science, a yard stick is not measure against another yardstick when it is created. It is measured against the standard length of some specific element such as cesium. It is not in our best interest to judge based on our own thoughts, but by the very standards of the Bible. It is our job to cast out the seeds of faith and pray humbly that the soil of the heart will allow the seed to grow.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Akira

      This, of course, does not explain the church throwing out the PARENTS. I doubt that the elders have read the Bible, either.
      This is not Christianity.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • Clark Nova

        It's Christianity as I remember it from my Baptist upbringing. Which is why I grew up to be an atheist.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Well at least we've got you to set us straight, then.

      Belief is not a choice. Belief is a compulsion. Are you choosing to not believe in Allah and all the other gods out there? Get real.

      August 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • voyager

      Do you support stoning? It's in the "Bible".

      August 22, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • all the more wiser@ray

      I spent many years attending church trying to be a godly servant of christ. It was a thorough study of the bible where my disbelief started. I was very sincere in my search. I could no longer do the mental gymnastics with my belief. I think most nonbelievers started as believers. I am free now. Maybe you should take off the blinders and not be afraid .

      August 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'History teaches us that immorality leads to the destruction of nations'

      Such as what history exactly?
      (And you had better be sure of your history before you respond)

      August 22, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  15. Fred Evil

    Xtians being Xtian.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  16. Colin

    Why would anybody think Christianity is a crock of sh.it? Hmmmm, let's see.

    Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Astronomy;

    (b) Cosmology;

    (c) Psychology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q. 2 You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are influenced by:

    (a) your education;

    (b) your diet;

    (c) your family history; or

    (d) your religion

    Q. 3 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" like protect myself from disease with a condom. I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or

    (d) A Christian, Jew or Muslim

    Q.4 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being influenced by:

    (a) My hetero$exuality

    (b) My genetics

    (c) My prejudice; or

    (d) My religion.

    Q5. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian, Muslim or Jew who believes prayers are answered

    Q6. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    Q.7 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q.8 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.9 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Q.10 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) the mafia

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) any given religious organization

    Q.11 What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:

    (a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;

    (b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;

    (c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.12 The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:

    (a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;

    (b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;

    (c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions as “boots on the ground” to distribute condoms; or

    (d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.

    Q.13 The statement “I believe in God because the Bible tells me to and the reason I follow the Bible is because it is the word of God” is:

    (a) Circular reasoning at its most obvious;

    (b) The reason 99% of Christians believe what they do;

    (c) Specific to the Judeo-Christian parts of the World and totally rejected by all other parts of the World; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.14 Probably the most fundamental tenet of Christian faith is that God sent his son Jesus to Earth to die and save us from the original sin of Adam and Eve. We now know that Adam and Eve was a myth. As such, any thinking Christian should:

    (a) Honestly and courageously question this and any other aspects of their faith that don’t make sense.

    (b) Make up some euphemistic nonsense like “well, we didn’t mean that literally” after having done exactly that for the last 1900 years until science comprehensively disproved it.

    (c) Just ignore the blatant contradiction and sweep it under the mat; or

    (d) Hold on to the myth because it makes them feel good.

    Q.15 Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.

    (a) Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.

    (b) When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.

    (c) You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint.

    (d) A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.

    Q16. If you are worried that your children, who you love very much, will not believe something you tell them, such as "smoking is bad for you," would you:

    (a) have your family doctor explain to them the various ill effects of smoking;

    (b) show them a film produced by the National Insti.tute for Health on the topic;

    (c) set a good example for them by not smoking; or

    (d) refuse to give them any evidence of the ill effects of smoking, insist that they rely entirely on faith and then take them out into the backyard and burn them to death if you ever catch them smoking?

    And, as a bonus question, what would you think of an "all loving Father" who chose option (d)?

    August 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • polycarp pio

      What convoluted crap are you spewing? If you are anti God/anti Christ just say so, and by the way I an a staunchly conservative bible believing Christian and I believe the bible teaches the earth is many billions of years old. Peddle your garbage somewhere else. PP

      August 22, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        So, just the name calling and no rebuttal, poly. Gotcha.

        August 22, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • Observer

        PP,

        So you couldn't figure out any of the answers?

        August 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
      • Colin

        Well, good for you polycarp. You are in the minority of Chrisitans, though. Apart from your vitriolic outburst, do you have a point to make?

        August 22, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
      • Bryan

        Apparently you don't believe in spelling and grammar though.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
      • pothead@polycrap

        Touchy. Hit a nerve? Its ok if you're struggling with doubt. We have all been there. We are here for you sweety!:-)

        August 22, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
      • Cedar Rapids

        Out of interest....how can someone that does not believe in god be anti-god?

        August 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • DB

      TL;DR

      August 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • matkins4268

      COLLN if you are wrong your days will be number . take the time and read how the woman who started no prayer in school died
      oh btw YOU WILL CONFESS CHRIST here or the after, so do not despair

      August 22, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Many Christians have died bad deaths. Are you really saying that if a person dies poorly, none of their ideas were any good?

        August 22, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
      • Cedar Rapids

        You suggesting that god punished her by arranging for her to be murdered?

        August 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Niloc

      Q.1
      E- none of the above

      Q. 2- Sorry, "likely" isn't very scientific. The question is void.

      Q. 3

      E- none of the above

      Q.4

      E-none of the above

      Q5. No one does that, unless you can prove they do. Question is void.

      Q6.

      E- none of the above

      Q.7

      E-none of the above

      Q.8

      E-none of the above

      Q.9 Sorry, "If" is hardly scientific. Either you have or you haven't. Save hypotheticals for philosophy class.

      Q.10

      E-none of the above

      Q.11

      E-none of the above

      Q.12

      E-none of the above

      Q.13 Question is void because no one ever said that

      Q.14

      E-none of the above

      Q.15 Question is void, not a scientific question but one that is open to conjecture and supposition.

      Q16. Sorry, question void for lack of scientific reasoning.

      You are really bad at asking good questions. Please speak to the author of this drivel and demand you money back.

      August 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  17. DB

    Turning someone away from Christ's house is an abomination. I'm not even Christian and I know that.

    All this woman did was sit by her daughter's side. That's it. I can't even imagine the hatred and rage that must consume the "elders" of this congregation if they had to shun her for that.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • matkins4268

      i am a christian and you do not know what you are talking about and you admitted it NO ONE CAN TURN ANOTHER FROM CHRIST ......... NO ONE

      August 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
      • Travis

        Well said.

        I think people commenting here are conveniently forgetting that the elders didn't simply dismiss her, they asked her to repent. She refused to do that. They have a responsibility to the congregation to make sure members aren't setting a bad example for people.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
        • DB

          Repent for what? She never endorsed anything, all she did was sit by her daughter's side. How is that a sin?

          August 22, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
      • pothead

        Threats.Woo Hoo. Think about this,would Christianity still be around if the threat of hell didn't exist? Wake up and be free!

        August 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  18. Hey! You!

    "He comes first and not family." Sooo, God is vain?

    August 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  19. Sammie

    svann

    Sorry you believe that svann. It isn't. Now, there are cults that are an abomination. But a true church, that believe's that the Bible is the word of God, is not. If you've been to one of those churches, you were smart to get out.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  20. Stobbage

    While it is certainly not the place of those in a church to judge a parent over their perception of sin ... neither is it to judge the sinner and most of all play this game of coercion elders at Ridgedale Church of Christ would impose upon their congregation. I view this matter as evidence of a false gospel being propagated by those more concerned with traditions of men than anything else. I dare say some explaining may likely be due before the White Throne in due time.

    August 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • matkins4268

      it has nothing to do with the gospel it has something to do with what we decide to live by and how we decide to live
      and mon and daugther knew the conditions and the stance of the church . bye bye do not we have the right to
      accept who we chose or not to chose Christ said it himself GOD CREATED MAN AND WOMAN

      August 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
      • You are a true Christian

        I hear what you are saying "A mother should abandon her child rather than go against the word of God". The bible says disobedient children should be put to death by stoning.

        August 22, 2013 at 9:38 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.