Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) –"Yo mama..."

Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.

When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.

I don’t wonder anymore.

When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.

For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.

You might even recognize yourself.

The Street Corner Prophet

When the Belief Blog ran a recent article on a television host who declared that atheists “don’t have to live here,” a commenter identified as “Karie” got into a heated exchange with someone who called themselves “Bible Clown.”

Karie called Bible Clown a “disgusting, deviant perverted virus,” and a “Bozo,” before ending with this prediction:

Hell is coming for you love. Special dungeon just for u and u won’t be able to die. LOL.LOL.”

The street corner prophets often act as if they’re deeply concerned about the fate of souls they disagree with, but you can tell that they relish the prospect of eternal torment for their online enemies.

Some don’t even try to hide their true motives:

“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

Okay, so that’s the wrong way to argue about religion online if you’re a street corner prophet. Now, here’s the right way:

Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment. People rarely listen to someone who is in perpetual attack mode.

“We change no one’s mind by attacking,” said Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York City.

Camosy has made a career out of bridging religious differences. He’s part of a “Contending Modernites” group, which finds common ground between Christians and Muslims. He’s also the co-founder of a website devoted to dialing down the heat in religious arguments entitled, “Catholic Moral Theology.”

Camosy says that online discussions about religion are difficult because they are not in person. Tone and nuance gets lost online.

“You can’t look them in the face,” he said. “You can’t shake their hand or give a hug. You find it very difficult to have that sort of embodied trust.”

The Provoker

There isn’t any notion of “embodied trust” with the next online character: The provoker.

The provoker doesn’t even pretend to care about the final destination for someone’s soul. They come out punching, and they love to say things that they probably wouldn’t say to someone in person.

In the recent article on Warren, a reader who went by the surname of “Just the Facts Ma’am,” tells another:

“Thanks for once again confirming how vulgar, uneducated and delusional you are Meredith.”

In an article about millennials leaving the church, a reader who identified herself as “Jenna,” tells another: “Jesus never said any of that mess. You are a false prophet if I’ve ever seen one.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a provoker:

No one will listen to you if they don’t like you, said Joe Carter, an evangelical blogger and author of “How to Argue like Jesus,” a book that explores how Jesus verbally tangled with his enemies and persuaded his friends.

Carter said Jesus was such an excellent communicator because he told stories that provoked emotions, took surprising twists and forced people to draw their own conclusions. But he also connected with people because of a simple reason: he cared about them.

“When people know that you care about them, they’re more likely to be persuaded by you,” Carter said. “We tend to be persuaded by people we like and trust. Jesus had that in spades.”

The Atheist

One of my best friends was an atheist. Whenever we ran into one other, we’d launch into these long, philosophical discussions about religion.  I loved it. Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious.

It’s too bad that many of the exchanges between atheists and people of faith in our comments section don’t follow the same script. In fact, they have some of the nastiest religious arguments I’ve witnessed online.

A sample:

In a recent Belief Blog article about atheism, a reader identifying himself as “Sam Stone” says to another: “Free people do not need a savior, Kate. Only slaves need saviors.”

Another reader who identifies himself as “CamDEn1” tells a Christian, “You are an uneducated fool. Ever you heard of Richard Dawkins? Sam Harris? Atheists have more respected scholars than Christianity…”

I get the source of frustration for some atheists. They have longed been caricatured by people of faith as moral degenerates who don’t care about morality. Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales.

Here’s how to argue over religion if you’re an atheist:

Get beyond the stereotypes and actually spend time with a person of faith. And if you’re a person of faith, do the same with an atheist. You might be surprised.

That’s what happened when Camosy, the Fordham University ethics professor, embarked on a speaking tour with the renowned atheist and philosopher, Peter Singer, who is seen by many as the founder of the animal rights movement.

Camosy said the speaking tour forced him to read and pay attention to Singer’s arguments. He discovered that they share concerns over global poverty. He saw Singer as a person of good will.

“That created the space for us to have an honest, open and fruitful exchange with one another rather than exchanging barbs,” Camosy said.

It also created the space for personal transformation.

“Actually reading him converted me to being a vegetarian,” Camosy said. “But it was only being open to his arguments that made me see.”

The Scholar

I have a friend who is smart – scary smart.  He’s a genial, funny guy who happens to be a theology professor. I try to hang with him when we talk religion, but there’s always a point in the conversation when he loses me. I compare that moment to watching the starship Enterprise go into warp drive. He just goes into hyperspace and my brain just isn’t big enough to follow.

There a lot of big brains in our blog’s comment sections. I call these readers “the scholars.”

Some of them are self-appointed biblical experts. They talk as if they have God’s cell phone number: God has revealed great mysteries to them. They know the divine plan.

In a recent article I wrote about contemporary Christians feeling as if they were persecuted, a reader identified as “Tom Skylark” let me know what all this persecution was really about.

 Skylark said:

“Christians will face continued persecution then 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 will happen right before the 7 year tribulation when Israel burns Russia’s weapons for 7 years. (Ezekiel 39:9). Those who are not taken in the rapture will have the opportunity to receive Christ during the 7 year tribulation but will be beheaded for their testimony. (Revelation 20:4). How far is Russia towards its prophetic position which means the rapture (! Thessalonians 4:16-17) is even closer?

Actually, I did not know that, and I’m still not sure what it means.

Sometimes the scholar is someone who believes all religion is hopelessly derivative: it’s all based on something that came before.

A reader by the name of “Seyedibar” responded to my article on Christian persecution with this:

“A little study of history and comparative religion goes a long way. Abraham is based on an Egyptian figure. His god was Ptah, not El, and his vision was of Memphis, not Israel. Jesus was likely based on a Merkabah mystic, one of a hairdresser and carpenter. .. And if you back a little further, Uguritic archaeology shows us that the book of Genesis is based on the ancestor kings of the Canaanites. Most Christians and Jews aren’t aware that the creator of the Garden of Eden, El, is recorded to have died of a wild boar attack.”

 Like I said, hyperspace. I just can’t go where “Seyedibar” has gone before. I love the scholar’s passion for religion, but some of them lose me when they try to deploy all their knowledge of history and religion in any effort to change someone else’ beliefs.

How to argue about religion if you’re a scholar:

Accept that there is a limit to knowledge. I’ve never seen anyone say in response to a religious argument: “You are right. Your argument is irrefutable. I’m going to jettison a lifetime of beliefs on the spot right now because I obviously have no coherent reply.”

It just doesn’t happen.

Gordon Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University, said most people change religious beliefs “not because of one argument” but only after long conversations and intimate exposure to another faith.

“Logical arguments are nice but they're not going to change someone’s life,” Newby said. “We’re way too complicated for that. We’re not programmed machines. We have this whole limbic system of emotions and appetites and everything else.”

The Peacemaker

There are some readers who give me hope when I go to the comment section. They are the “peacemakers,” and they surely bless me with their attitudes.

Peacemakers try to keep arguments from getting personal. They are the online referees.  They turn the other cheek.

An exchange between someone called “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” shows a peacemaker in action.

“Bootyfunk”  gets upset with “KatieRose” because she says  “we must respect all ideas in the world, no matter how crazy.”

Bootyfunk says people don’t have to respect all ideas, and tells Katie Rose she shouldn't tell people not to debate religion on a blog about religion.

What does KatieRose say in response? She doesn’t go to war. She makes the peace:

“Okay! That works for me,” KatieRose said. “I’m sorry if it sounded like I was ordering people not to talk about an issue: I just disagreed with the focus of the discussion.”

“Bootyfunk” ends the discussion with a smiley-face symbol and a “smooches, Katie.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a peacemaker:

Keep on doing what you’re doing.

If only the rest of the comment section had more peacemakers. I actually e-mailed readers like “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” to get their perspective, but all I got was silence. Not one commenter wanted to talk on the record for this story. Only one person – an atheist – responded to my invitations to chat, and he didn’t want his name used.

But I have a feeling I’ll hear again from these holy trollers when I scan the comment section of Belief Blog. So will you, even if you don’t read that much about religion. These holy trollers show up in our lives and our workplaces. Many of them will sit next to us at the dinner table when families and friends get together for the upcoming holidays.

When the conversation turns to religion, you may meet your holy troller, and you will have to make a choice.

Do I make the peace, or do I go the war?

What kind of holy troller will you be?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Internet • News media • Nones

soundoff (3,856 Responses)
  1. Scot

    Tax the mega churches and political churches. They are tax free tax cows that spout their political rhetoric !

    October 5, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  2. joe

    I disagree. It's actually ok to get heated and to use a little name calling here but just a little. Why? For starters we aren't face to face. It's just characters on a page. It would be very different if I were sitting across from a true believer and I could literally see how much that person needed his invisible sky fairy to help him get through the day. Secondly, true believers entire argument is basically name calling. They have nothing else. They don't have science, they don't have history, they don't have reason, they don't have logic, they just have an overwhelming desire and feeling to be chosen, to be right. And with such a glaring lack of evidence, they stick their noses in the air and proclaim they are right and the rest of humanity will find out the hard way. It's an incredibly offensive position to thinking people. So here is the place to let loose where one can't let loose face to face. Here is the place to call someone out and make them back up their conclusions and if an an unpleasant name gets tossed at you–well, just deal with it. After all if you can contemplate what happens after you die you should be able to handle a little name calling along life's journey.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  3. Darwin was right

    The Christians of today like to claim that they are all about love, charity, compassion, etc., which is all very well, but it took THREE HUNDRED YEARS of brave SKEPTICS and secular forces to curb the abuses of power of Christian religious authorities who would – if we were back in the year 1700 – eagerly hunt down every one of you heretic posters and whip you down in the Bishop's prison until you repented your posts that even slightly insulted Christian doctrine. I suspect that many Fundies would love to go back to those GOOD OLD DAYS!

    October 5, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • observer1776

      What other "good old days" would you prefer?

      October 5, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • joe

      And that really is the truth. Christianity gained its historical dominance in our society by demanding compliance often times by physical punishment and even death of those who dared to stand against it.

      It's the same for islam in the middle east. Religion cannot stand on logic, reason, science, history. It only stands by the true believer forcibly asserting the beliefs on the rest of society. And that's why religion is now failing in 1st world countries because the religious can no longer force themselves on the rest of society.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  4. Alien Orifice

    It has recently been discovered that our universe resides in the toilet bowl of one Mr. Curtis Jeffery. His “big bang” seemed normal based on his enormous size relative to us.

    Our entire expanding universe is just a used condom Mr. Grody-Pants is blowing up because he thinks it’s funny. Good one “God”.

    I wish we pooped galaxies instead of shit. That would be awesome and it would answer some questions about dark matter.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  5. mariposa

    Finally! I feel so validated that I'm not the only one who thinks these discussions are disturbing. Thanks John Blake. More articles like this one. By the way , I thought the article about millennials leaving the church was exceptional. Keep it up.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • joe

      Finally! I feel so validated that I'm not the only one who thinks these discussions are disturbing.
      What's disturbing is a person believing and following an invisible sky fairy. Such a person turns science, history, logic and reasoning on their heads to maintain belief system. It really should be classified as a mental disorder.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  6. Markus

    "Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales."

    Excuse me, but how is that inaccurate at all? Be the first religious person to suggest any reason why your story is any more meaningful than the Greek myths or the Epic of Beowulf or the Tales of Brothers Grimm. Miracles, fulfilled prophecies, role models ... all inside the story, like all the others.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Religious people have, at times, shown strong will and even willingness for self-sacrifice to enforce their fiction as truth at all costs.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • WestNorthWest

      Well said, Markus. For the religious, it is indeed astonishing what you will believe, with no evidence to support it, and a lot of contrary evidence and reason.

      Particularly regarding Christianity, why should anyone put faith in a sky creature that expects us to "have faith" in such absurd stories as the Christ "sacrifice" when he won't show himself in any credible way for 2000+ years, at best?

      October 5, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  7. GAW

    It's way to easy for trollers to come on this section. You don't need a disquis account and you can change your tag name at random.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  8. Cassarit

    For some reason this guy seems to miss al the unprovoked mockery and scorn that comes from faithphobes.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Dant

      Nah, he covered it in the first one. I think he's got a pretty good rational article here.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • Dant

        oops... 3rd one. 🙂

        October 5, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • sam stone

      not to mention the empty proxy threats seeping from the pseudo pious

      October 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  9. Foxxy

    Here's your argument. There is neither evidence to support nor disprove the existence of any type of God. It's an invalid argument.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • sam stone

      i agree

      October 5, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  10. Mel Stricker

    First, for the person writing this article to call what should be a 'discussion' and 'argument' is symptomatic of the problem. All discussions on like are yelling matches because of anonymity and the fact that most people know their position on subjects but have a difficult time expressing it.
    Second. religion like God is a belief and everyone that expresses a belief is both right and wrong. A belief is not something one a prove to the wider community through any scientific method. A belief is personal like believing in Big Foot.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Josh

      As an atheist I don't need to take the debate seriously. No more than .i take a debate about the existence ok leprechauns seriously.

      I can have fun...free to call the worship of a dead guy on a stick what it is....stupid.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  11. thom

    Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples,
    "These infants being suckled are like those who enter the Kingdom."

    They said to him, "Shall we then, ....as children, enter the Kingdom?"

    Jesus said to them,
    "When you make the two one, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMzK6iz6uVs
    and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside,

    and the above like the below, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8DV7WFdTw8

    and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Rights_Amendment

    and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye,

    and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot,

    and a likeness in place of a likeness;

    ...........then will you enter the Kingdom."

    October 5, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • EvinAR

      Nice sermon. Now if you'll excuse me, there are facts that can be learned about what I'm materially made of, how consciousness is material as well, that I can follow on VERY little faith. I'd prefer to know things on very little faith, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you like to know that God exists on VERY little faith? Or are you so far gone that the word 'faith' itself is like a sweet release to you?

      Reality check–faith is gullibility... it doesn't only characterize the religious... it characterizes gamblers, people who believe lies without question, a lover being cheated upon, and people who trust their money taken care of with no guarantee. True that some amount of risk is necessary in living a life in which you don't end up insane and paranoid, but BLIND faith is just intolerantly ignorant of basic research. Gamble only with money that is not crucial to your savings, believe people only who have demonstrated a history of telling the truth, love people who have demonstrated their faithfulness in other areas, whose word is their last resort, trust your money with people who can guarantee it back to you.... and these things quickly will leave the realm of absolute faith. There can be no research such as this into a trustworthy 'god', because nobody has ever even demonstrated a god to anybody else.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  12. Sherri

    Here's what I think. For some reason, we have made it politically incorrect to call someone when we think their views, on religion, are stupid. This is the only area where we are told to not tell someone what we think. If they go to a movie and we think it was dumb, we tell them. If they read a book and we don't like it, we say so. But when it comes to religion, we're afraid to say anything. I think THAT is dumb. If someone holds a religious belief that is totally unfounded and ridiculous, I think it is fine to say what we think. I think this being afraid to 'offend' has got way out of hand. If you believe in a sky fairy and I don't, I'm going to say so. We need to get it out of the closet. I see nothing wrong with telling someone that what they believe strikes us as ignorant. You can be polite, but I don't think we should all be hiding and afraid to tell someone such.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Mike V

      I wish this comment system had an upvote function.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:39 am |
      • Steve

        I'm religious and this is my opinion, what believe is without answer if I asked for, I approve you

        October 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • sami

      I would prefer you kept your opinion about my beliefs to your self, as I will do. No one cares what you think or that you don't agree. You will not change the way I believe and I do not care to change the way you believe. Who gave you permission to comment to me on any of my beliefs or ideas and thoughts? Why do you think you have the freedom to do so? Make sure your house is in order before trying to straighten out any one else's.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • G to the T

        ...because you commented first on a belief blog? Sorry I'm not sure of your point.

        October 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  13. Carl Kaminer

    People are free to believe or disbelieve whatever they want. Why argue about it at all? If the question is about the morality of an issue, such as abortion, then everyone should understand that that you don't have to be religious to have morality-based principles. I know quite a few atheists who are against abortion, and quite a few Christians who support it.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • bostontola

      Your last sentence shows why we argue, religion is not about morality, it is about dogmatic adherence to a position. When that position conflicts with facts or other people's morality, an argument ensues.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • ishkabidle

      It is sometimes worth arguing about because beliefs are often forced onto other people. Look at creationists trying to change science curricula. That is like scientists trying to force a church to include science in a holy book. If nobody brought force into the debate, the debate would just be hot air.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  14. oliver

    Each morning as I walked out the door my mother would ask me, "Are you going to learn to think about or to believe what you're told in school today?" Its not a surprise I would grow up to become an atheist. Atheism is now fastest growing "religion" in the US. We have a historically unprecedented access to information now. The idea of taking someone's word for it, believing without thinking...it won't last.

    In the article, you suggest atheists are guilty of viewing their opponents as believing in fairy tales. I have no problem with atheists who use their voices online, I wish more would! Religious people point to the bible constantly to prove their arguments about everything from Obamacare to Miley Cyrus. I think its fair game to challenge their basis when they do.

    But if there is one point I can make above all others, its that THIS ARTICLE MISSES THE POINT OF ONLINE DEBATE ENTIRELY. Debates are never about changing people's minds who have already made them up. Its about the people reading in silence who are on the fence. Let them make their arguments in whatever way they want to, if they are poorly thought out, if they are mean, they will lose the room. Conversely, if someone has something interesting to say, people will listen. And you, John Blake, do not have the sole authority to deem what is good behavior or not. People will judge for themselves.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Sherri

      Amen to you! The holy rollers think they are better than everyone else and they are not afraid to say so. So, if I feel differently, then I will not be afraid to say so. I think too many people are afraid to call someone out on their beliefs. We've been told to not 'offend'. Look where it's got us. Politics and religion are the two areas where we're not supposed to criticize another's beliefs. I think this is ignorant. If you think someone holds a belief that is stupid, why not tell them? We do on anything else. The Republicans even have a photo of Jesus that they've copyrighted. It is called the Republican Jesus. Come ON! I have a relative who posted something on Facebook saying "God is a Republican". Well I think THAT'S stupid. And wrong. On so many levels.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • Scot

        Amen Sister !!!!

        October 5, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  15. Apple Bush

    "“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

    That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

    The REAL HeavenSent use to post this nasty stuff regularly. She is not an atheist troller as we all know. The author is missing some information.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  16. stevezagata

    Nobody did a better job of persuading people than Carl Sagan. He was so smooth and articulate that many people weren't even aware that he was changing their way of thinking. With such a great gap between the beliefs of faith and reality it's difficult not to get in a few heated discussions, after-all, one side feels their life depends on it. I don't always respect a religious person's view but I make great efforts to respect the person.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  17. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    "“Thanks for once again confirming how vulgar, uneducated and delusional you are Meredith.” That was just in response to Meredith after she called others "vulgar, uneducated and delusional" and I was just using her exact words to refute her position, so not sure if I should get the credit for that one. I am flattered though.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  18. ms jackson

    Intrresting that he assigns the word "holy" to the trollers he's obsessed with. "Holy" meaning "pure" and "right". Its that very lack of critical thinking that causes the rift between sensible and faithful.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • CarolynB

      I found it to be the perfect play on words for this article. I'm always up for a great pun.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  19. CarolynB

    I loved this article and the author nailed it on the head! I won't participate in religious discussions because of all those characters mentioned above. I find the religious pontification obnoxious and tiring. I love well-rounded, objective religious discussions face to face. I welcome them. However, I cannot stand religious zealots and pontificators who feel they need to start slinging insults and condemnation to anyone who doesn't happen to believe exactly the same way they do. I consider them to be close-minded, opinionated, sanctimonious and self righteous bible thumpers.

    As a cradle-Catholic and Catholic school teacher, it is my job to teach Catholic doctrine to my students. I have chosen to take this teaching job at this school. I choose to believe in Jesus, God and all things heavenly. What I do not accept is the single, exclusive theory that God, and ONLY God, created the universe. AND, the Catholic church agrees with me – they accept both Creation and Evolution as THEORIES, not FACT.

    Do I spread this around to others outside the Catholic church? No, because I know it's a hot topic and opens the door to upsetting dialogue. So, that is why I refuse to participate in on line religious "debates" - because I don't believe there can be such things. Someone is always taking it to the next level of insult slinging and sanctimonious behavior. I don't have the desire to be around people like that in real life, why would I want to read it on line?

    October 5, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  20. Mike Bwk

    I think we need to have compassion for those who are committed to never believing and yet spend their time contributing to blogs on belief. Is there something missing in their lives?

    October 5, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • CarolynB

      I don't think we believers have the right to make that kind of a judgment call. Whether they believe or not believe is their choice. What we need to do is monitor ourselves and remind ourselves that kindness, respect and compassion are the best gifts we can give to others. Truly then are we "walking the walk and talking the talk" our faith wants us to do.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:35 am |
      • Mike Bwk

        It's a good point, we are not qualified to judge. But, we can gain knowledge without judgement. Jesus' example was to be a servant to others. How can we serve if we don't gain understanding of the needs of the person we would serve?

        October 5, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • visitor

      Millions upon millions of people are relieved to hear it is not just them, that it is OK to not believe, that they are not alone, and the expectation that they believe in the religion they grew up with is not reasonable. This is a great relief to people to just let go of it. Some people are passionate about their personal transformation. That transformation is within the Belief/Non Belief world. Chatting about their personal journey to non belief helps some people contextualize it. They are happy. They are sharing. I hope that helps you understand.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • CarolynB

        There will always be a divide between believers and non-believers. That's been happening since the dawn of times. Instead of trying to get people to switch sides, it's best both sides realize that neither of them are correct OR incorrect in their points of view. That's the crux of the issue right there. Players on both sides refuse to budge. Hey, wait a sec....are we talking about faith or the US Government? I just lost track here.

        October 5, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • tallulah13

          I fail to see how belief in a god for which there is no evidence is even remotely correct. You can believe what you want of course, but once religion enters the political arena, the gloves are off.

          October 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • visitor

          I failed to communicate my point. Who is not heard the "good news" of being saved? Anyone?

          Millions upon millions of people never hear that it is OK to not believe, or it is OK to believe in something else than what they grew up with, and if they think the entire concept of being "saved" is at best silly or at worst, abusive, it is OK to come to the realization that one is not alone in that thinking.

          I am unconcerned about any "divide" between believers and non believers and in fact, I am not even sure what the definition of a "believer" is. Is that a Buddhist? A Wiccan? A New Ager? Christians of all strips? Muslims? Jews? A believer in UFO's? Can one be spiritual and be considered a believer, but a non believer in Christianity? I have had wonderful relationships with all believing and non believing types. The only problems I have had are with Evangelicals. They are the exception. They are always trying to convert people in one way or another. Man, that gets old....does it surprise them when people finally get angry? It shouldn't.

          So I am not sure who is refusing to budge. I am unconcerned with budging a bolder. I have also never once discussed my personal spirituality in here, or non spirituality. No we are not talking about the government.

          October 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • tallulah13

      There is no evidence that any of the thousands of gods ever worshipped by humans actually exist. Not even the christian god. There is no indisputable evidence that Christ himself existed, and none at all that any of the miracles attributed to him ever occurred. There is no evidence of any afterlife, much less heaven or hell, or even a devil.

      There is no evidence that any of supernatural events of the bible took place.

      As an American I support your right to believe whatever you choose. However, some christians have chosen to force their faith into the laws of this very secular nation. By doing so, you have forced the atheist hand and we have no choice but to speak out.

      October 5, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Maxwell's Demon

      Or maybe a great many of us live in places with a lot of religious people and our lives are affected by those beliefs?

      October 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
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About this blog

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