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November 7th, 2013
12:30 PM ET

Even atheists love this Pope

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - With his penchant for crowd-pleasing and spontaneous acts of compassion, Pope Francis has earned high praise from fellow Catholics.

Hell, even atheists love him - as amply demonstrated by the surprising displays of affection tweeted after the Pope publicly embraced a severely disfigured man on Wednesday.

MORE ON CNN: Why the pope's embrace of the disfigured man is so powerful

Here's what some atheists had to say on Twitter:

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Internet • Nones • Pope Francis

soundoff (756 Responses)
  1. Tom

    It only takes a human being to love a fellow human being – being athiest has nothing to do with it. Once you find a pope that's worth loving, one who isn't a hypocrite and someone who actually walks the walk... what's not to respect? This is the first pope in my lifetime who actually practices what he preaches.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Morgan

      Exactly! He's a human being doing what he says he'll do. What's not to respect?

      November 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  2. artemidorus

    There are atheists who have their belief system and simply don't believe in God. Many of those can appreciate that this Pope clearly is an overall good person and trying to take action against many complaints people have about the stubbornness of the Catholic church.

    Then there are atheists who are generally just contrary to everything in life and like to let other people know it. These are the people that complain about their neighbors trimming their bushes too infrequently, scream at their kid's Little League coach about playing time, and troll message boards. You're going to see a lot of these ones complaining that they still hate him, although they won't be able to give a clear reason why, other than the fact that he's the Pope and he hasn't disbanded the Church.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Morgan

      Know what's funny? I have yet to run across anyone expressing dislike of this pope ... except for super-conservative Catholics. My office is (much to my amusement) populated with a horde of atheists, and all of us adore Francis. We like that he's expressing true love and concern for his fellow man. That's something we've simply not seen from the Catholic Church (or the Protestant Church, come to that). It's refreshing.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  3. C

    Anyone notice how hot Victoria Lund is?

    November 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  4. gladiatorgrl

    the man WALKS THE WALK. That's ALL atheists care about. We just don't like the HYPOCRITES!

    November 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      amen!

      November 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Yep!

      Guy might actually believe in his religion – and doesn't seem inclined to be the type who wants to force others to obey his religion. That's all there is to it.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Dawkins Dawg

      No we expect complete conformity to our thinking. Anything else makes you delusional or mentally ill.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Voice in the Desert

      Glad to hear you say that, but it sure doesn't see like reality. I see so much Christian-bashing (I'm a mixture of Christianity/Buddhism/Taoism myself) and so little tolerance for other people's viewpoints from most atheists on the boards. I say, if your philosophy base is love, then believe what you want to believe. If someone is Christian and they live their faith with love, then why the venom from so many non-believers? No one likes a hypocrite, but we shouldn't label all in one group as bad just because there are some bad ones.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  5. Susan StoHelit

    I'm an atheist – and I'm impressed by him.

    Yeah, some of it is a low bar thing – actually acting as if you believe in your religion, teachings about poverty, wealth, and love – has been a rare thing for most recent Popes.

    But some of it is that he does seem a decent guy and is working to make changes in a very dirty organization. Trying to trim the massively excessive opulence. Sending reports of child molestation to the cops, rather than hiding from the cops. Acting like he actually cares about people.

    Pope John Paul (never mind Benedict) – even with his pretty words, he didn't do any of this.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • B

      Pope John Paul? Let's see. He risked his life to save Jews from Nazis. He fought against the death penalty and organized crime in Italy. He flew all over the world kissing the ground upon arrival. He brought down communist oppression in Poland which lead to a thawing in the cold war. He forgave the would-be assassin that put a bullet in him and visited with him in prison saying " I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust." He officially made public apologies for over 100 wrongdoings of the church including the child molestations, the inquisition, women's rights violations, inactive catholics during holocaust, Galileo, etc. He's one of only 4 popes to be referred to as The Great. The first since the first millennium. By the way, the papal apartments where JP lived were renovated when Benedict became pope because they had "outmoded furnishings, lack of lighting and large drums placed in the false ceiling to catch water leaks." The pipes were encrusted with rust and lime, the heating system broken. Not exactly opulent. But I'm sure you knew all of this.

      -----
      Susan StoHelit
      I'm an atheist – and I'm impressed by him.

      Yeah, some of it is a low bar thing – actually acting as if you believe in your religion, teachings about poverty, wealth, and love – has been a rare thing for most recent Popes.

      But some of it is that he does seem a decent guy and is working to make changes in a very dirty organization. Trying to trim the massively excessive opulence. Sending reports of child molestation to the cops, rather than hiding from the cops. Acting like he actually cares about people.

      Pope John Paul (never mind Benedict) – even with his pretty words, he didn't do any of this.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  6. Bud

    That's great that atheists love this Pope. But do they love Jesus?

    November 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • no thanks

      Of course not, silly!

      November 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • bostontola

        I respect many of the ideas attributed to Jesus (and the many predecessors plagiarized), but how can I love a person that died 2 thousand years ago that I never met? You don't love myths, you can learn from them though.

        November 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      The guy died a few thousand years ago. There's a few inspirational words attributed to him, and some crappy stuff attributed to him – but who knows what he actually said or did in reality. Nah, can't say I love Jesus.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • NC

      No! Then they would not be an atheist.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • sly

      Why would I love Jesus? Who was he? Did he do anything important? Any famous words? Any famous actions?

      No ... he has about as much impact on me as Marc Antony. And that's fine. Lots of people in this world, can't worry about all of them.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  7. sly

    The Pope is as irrelevant to me as the Sultan of Bancur.

    He does seem slightly less conservative than previous Pope's.

    On a scale of 1-100, 100 being 'most conservative', he is around 95, whereas most are stuck at 100.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Dan . . . an atheist.

    As I say, "This guy's determined to make a catholic out of me." If you have to be a religious person, be like this Pope.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  9. bostontola

    I'm an atheist that also thinks this pope is a pretty cool cat. He was not selected randomly. The RCC wanted to go in a new direction. They know that Africa and Asia are wide open and they don't want other denominations winning the recruiting battle of the 21st century. So far, this pope is getting the job done and is starting the course change. Time will ultimately tell, but so far he is doing what was hoped for by the RCC. In general, this new direction is more tolerant and collaborative. That sounds like an improvement to me.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  10. B

    If I were the pope and atheists thought I was a good guy, that would be a good sign to me that I was finally doing something right. Group hug!

    November 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  11. NotSoFast

    Im a Atheist to the core ... I DON'T LOVE THE POPE >>> I DON'T HATE THE POPE.... I DON'T GIVE A RATS ASS ABOUT THE POPE... TOTAL INDIFFERENCE DOES NOT = HATE... IT EQUALS TOTAL INDIFFERENCE ... IF that guy wants to parade around in robes pretending to be some sort of chosen representative of the CC (CooCoo's nest) and hand out "BLESSINGS" to the masses .... well let's just say it says volumes more about the masses than the man .....

    November 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • B

      Yet here you are posting a comment. That's more than a rats ass last time I checked.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  12. MacStephens

    Atheists/agnostics seem him as a breath of fresh air for simple reasons:
    #1 – he's a moderate
    2 – he's more open-minded than any other pope in recent history
    3 – he's choosing "the love" over "the judging"

    But mostly it's b/c he's a moderate. And atheists know that we can live and work with the moderates.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Not really a moderate – just not so into judging and pushing their beliefs on others. That'll do – I'm fine with people being anti-abortion, anti-birth control – so long as they don't try to write it into the laws of other countries.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
      • MacStephens

        Really? He's seems quite moderate compared to his predecessors. I mean, he's saying "don't judge gay folks" for example...

        November 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Art

      There should be more moderate atheists commenting here but then extremists have the loudest voices and the more time on their hands to obsess just like their religious counterparts.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  13. Grumpster

    Sort of like saying that I love getting whipped with a horse whip versus a cat-o-nine tails.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  14. Grumpster

    No....we don't Loooooooove this pope any more than we loooooooved that last bunch of nincompoops.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  15. St. Mark the Atheist

    I think it shows how low the bar has been set that basic acts of decency and acceptance by a Pope are considered exceptional and praise worthy.

    November 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  16. ME II

    Not sure how to take this article...

    Sure Atheists are not all haters and can give credit where credit is due...

    But then again it smacks of 'not all Jews are money grubbers...' or 'not all Muslims are terrorists', back handed compliments.

    November 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      It has some of that – but I'll take it, since it's at least some relief from the "All atheists are anti-religion, anti-Christian" stuff that is usually stated pretty near outright.

      For some believers it's a first exposure to normal atheists, and the notion that atheists don't hate all religious people.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        it's at least some relief from the "All atheists are anti-religion, anti-Christian" stuff

        I'd embrace that take on it.

        November 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  17. Observer

    It looks like he may be trying to drag the Catholic Church into the 21st Century.

    November 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • no thanks

      You mean from the 16th Century?

      November 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  18. Reality # 2

    Francis I, good man, bad theology. Added details upon written request.

    November 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • no thanks

      No request coming. 🙄

      November 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  19. Alias

    Another Anti-Christian story from CNN....
    Wait, what?

    November 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Chris

      Anti Christian? They have an entire section devoted to peoples beliefs....That's pro religion and sense this is the US....HMMMMMMMM Yeah

      November 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
      • bspurloc

        its anti christian because their supreme leader is calling them out as being hypocrits

        November 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  20. Joel

    What does this love really mean?

    November 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Win O frie

      It means atheists have a sense of "awe" and "wonder"!

      😉

      November 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • no thanks

        Nah, it's just that we Atheists can give props where props are due. It's called respect. This Pope is one of the very very few true believers who actually practices what he preaches. I think a huge contributing factor to people becoming Atheist is that there is so much rampant hypocrisy among the faithful. So much B.S. among people who say they believe in god, jesus, bible, koran, etc.

        November 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • Bud

          Unlike atheists that never are never full of crap.

          November 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
        • Joe

          So, because man is fallable, God must be too?

          November 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • bspurloc

        awe and wonder? more like laughing at the shocking and awing of him calling u all out as hypocrits

        November 7, 2013 at 5:07 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.