November 7th, 2013
12:30 PM ET

Even atheists love this Pope

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. One one

    Looks like the church leadership picked the right guy to stop the bleeding.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  2. Douglas

    There is power and salvation through the rejection of sinful behavior!

    Thank you Pope Francis for leading the way in a world choking in acts of sin.
    Help us deliver those trapped in the abyss of sin to a life
    of hope and promise.

    Break the silence now!

    November 10, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Breaking the silence by putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      November 10, 2013 at 8:11 am |
      • fefeeley412

        What I find so incredible about Atheism, first off, is the audacity to think your above even men like Aristotle who pondered the sublime. Your group is especially dirty, your almost as bad as fundamentalists Christians in your disdain for everyone who isn't, how does the false perception go, open minded? You dismiss the Greek Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and claim you have no god, but you do. Your gods name is Empiricism. The one thing you dont want to admit is your god exists within the four walls of a laboratory. The only reality to you is what science can verify. In a universe as complex as ours, science can't verify a whole lot and more importantly, atheism an offense to science. Your asking science to make a judgement on something that it has no concern in. Does God exist? This question is irrelevant to a true scientist. A true scientist has nothing to say about God because science has no way of subjecting him to the Scientific Method. Agnostics, have the ability to use the arguments of claiming open mindedness, they would be the true scientists. They say he may/may not exist so there is no reason to worry about it and most importantly, it cant be proven or struck down.
        You see in my mind, Atheists if they truly were so educated and open minded, would simply shrug and walk away instead of filling up CNN's page with your own papal bulls with the enthusiasm of a Baptist Tent Revival and drip disdain over thousands of yours of thought. Let me be clear, you don't matter. To the billions of people out there that believe in a higher power regardless if its the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, their toaster, your irrelevant. To science, your irrelevant. And I think Atheists know this as they do their best to scream into the dark void. Think about it. A human being has roughly eighty years of life, why waste your time on a website like this, you better hurry up and get your living in. There isn't anything to look forward to after this.

        November 15, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  3. kristinagadfly

    This story has cherry picked a few people who "claim" to be atheists, and made a grand leap that "even atheists support this pope" journalism requires confirmation of sources, not tweet conformation. As a protestant/atheist, I find this pandering behavior of this Jesuit pope appalling, the Vatican and all the Cardinals must of used the advice of a PR firm to make this pope's selection. You do not self aggrandize at the expense for public showing a man such as this. The pope and the church cannot do dog and pony shows to gain approval from rational individuals. This Church has to make "Fundamental" changes or die off and stop trying to put lipstick on the pig.

    November 10, 2013 at 5:59 am |
  4. Leonard J. Romano

    His message is simple even thou it is over 2,000 years old. "Love each other".

    November 10, 2013 at 5:12 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Said message has been around for a lot longer than 2000 years.

      "As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term "Golden Rule", or "Golden law", as it was called from the 1670s.[1][6] As a concept of "the ethic of reciprocity," it has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard way that different cultures use to resolve conflicts.[1][5] It has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated its reciprocal, "two-way" nature in various ways (not limited to the above forms).[1]

      Rushworth Kidder discusses the early contributions of Confucius (551–479 BCE) (See a version in Confucianism below). Kidder notes that this concept's framework appears prominently in many religions, including "Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and the rest of the world's major religions".[7] According to Greg M. Epstein, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely."[8] Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition".[9] In his commentary to the Torah verse (Hebrew: "ואהבת לרעך כמוך" ca.1300 BCE):"

      You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

      —Leviticus 19:18[10], the "Great Commandment"

      Did the historical Jesus utter a version of the Golden Rule? Luke 6:31 = Matt 7:12- no he did not according to the findings of many contemporary NT scholars.

      e.g Professor Gerd Luedemann [Jesus, 151f] notes the ancient and diverse attestation of this saying in antiquity, including its earliest occurrence in Herodotus III 142, 3:

      "I will not do that for which I censure my neighbors."

      From Ludemann's book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 151-152, " In view of the widespread attestation of the Golden Rule in antiquity and its generality, it cannot be attributed to Jesus."

      See also: http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb033.html

      And because of the common sense nature of the Golden Rule, most humans to include myself follow said rule.

      November 10, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  5. This one doesn't

    Why are the posts of atheists blocked? CENSORSHIP.

    Why does CNN need to sugarcoat Catholic dogma and protect it from criticism?

    November 10, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • Hints

      @This one doesn't,

      Maybe you have run into the automatic word filter...

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN Belief Blog/WordPress automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
      ho-oters…as in sho-oters
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      inf-orms us…
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      ni-gra…as in deni-grate
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      November 10, 2013 at 1:52 am |
  6. atomD21

    It's a sad state of affairs when showing compassion to another person afflicted with a terrible condition makes the news like this. I'm not saying what Pope Francis did isn't praiseworthy, as it really is, just that compassion from religious leaders seems to be so rare that this is shocking.

    November 10, 2013 at 12:49 am |
  7. Marsha Malone

    I am an atheist but seeing the humility and kindness of this man touches me deeply.

    November 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  8. eric

    I'm a very outspoken atheist and I don't care for the pope.

    November 9, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • CNN troll

      What that's it? No pope on a rope jokes or anything?

      November 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  9. Matt in Oregon

    Yes I am an atheist and while I certainly do not agree any more or less with the Catholic doctrine I have to say that I deeply appreciate the actions of this current pope. A persons actions should always been seen as more important than their beliefs.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  10. Chris

    Anyone who understands atheism would expect this to be the case. Atheists are able to appreciate the intrinsic value of positive human attributes like compassion and empathy in people, regardless of whether those people represent their entire belief system. As opposed to many of the so called faithful, who will dismiss any positive characteristic in a person because that person does not provide them with the validation they need to to feel secure in their beliefs.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      'Atheists are able to appreciate the intrinsic value of positive human attributes like compassion and empathy in people, regardless of whether those people represent their entire belief system.'

      What does any of that have to do with rejecting belief in a deity? Stop attributing things to atheists that have nothing to do with atheism.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
      • Chris

        I said anyone who understands atheism.

        November 9, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Atheism = the rejection of belief in deities.

          What else is there to understand? Everything else is superfluous.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
      • Observer

        I'm sorry Dave,

        You are completely correct. Chris is trying to assign favorable attributes to atheists just like believers try to assign negative attributes to them. Atheism is just believing that there are no gods. Period.There are "good" atheists and "bad" atheists just like there are "good" Christians and "bad" Christians.

        November 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Well said, although I wouldn't say anybody is truly 'good' or 'bad', it's all relative, and those words imply absoluteness.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
        • Observer

          That's why I used quote marks since morals are subjective. Most people, however, have a good idea of what their society considers to be "good" or "bad".

          November 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I'm kinda tired, I overlooked the quotation marks. My bad.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
        • Observer

          I'm sorry Dave,

          No problem at all.

          I'm still trying to recover from seeing someone on here admitting to "my bad". 🙂

          November 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Yeah, it's not normal here. It's tough being a somewhat humble, mostly obnoxious, conservative atheist on the CNN belief blogs.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
        • Observer

          I'm sorry Dave,

          You might check your Internet connection.

          If you are a conservative, you must have missed the memo about being a preaching Christian who doesn't answer questions.

          If you are a blogger, you must have missed the memo about never admitting you are wrong.

          Something's wrong. Are you using some kind of gas-powered PC or something?

          November 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          From what I can tell, I'm one of a minutely tiny minority of people who has missed those memos.

          November 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
  11. elliott carlin

    Actually atheism isn't really a belief. They don't really believe in anything but themselves. I suppose when they get together, they talk about....themselves. Take a look at poster-child Christopher Hitchens. Him actually smiling just looked painfully awkward-a very abrasive and bitter person. They say most atheists had issues with their fathers-thus the ultimate Father (God) will be rebelled against.

    These are strange people.

    November 9, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • Observer

      elliott carlin,

      Don't be simple-minded. There is no "spokesman" or leader for the simple concept that no God or gods exist. That's all there is to atheism. There are vast differences between atheists and trying to put more beliefs onto them in total is pure foolishness.

      November 9, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • counterww

        he hit that nail on the head. Lost of issues atheists seem to have, include very big egos.

        November 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • Igor


          Who thinks that the almighty creator of the universe loves YOU and fervently wants to spend eternity with YOU?

          Who's got the big ego, eh?

          November 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • Matt in Oregon

          Right... you think that the earth and the universe as a while was created all by a divine being who had YOU in mind and did everything to save YOU and yet somehow we atheists are the arrogant ones? Yeah...

          November 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Observer

      "They say most atheists had issues with their fathers-thus the ultimate Father (God) will be rebelled against."

      Where is your RELIABLE SOURCE for this?

      This should be good.

      November 9, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Akira

      "They" say atheists have daddy issues? Who is "they"?

      This is a new one.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • mrsinned

      "Actually atheism isn't really a belief."
      Correct, as defined. But that's the one and only thing you get correct.

      "They don't really believe in anything but themselves."
      No, the definition of atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. You have no clue what every atheist does nor doesn't believe beyond that one subject. But, I do believe that I exists so, in a way, I do believe in myself.

      "I suppose when they get together, they talk about....themselves."
      You sound like a 5-year old. Right, every atheist is a member of an atheists club... Why do you need to insult? You can't simply discuss the very specific thing you do know when you learn someone is an atheist (that they don't believe in God)? Why do you have to make this personal? You come off threatened and desperate.

      "Take a look at poster-child Christopher Hitchens. Him actually smiling just looked painfully awkward-a very abrasive and bitter person."
      All you can do is criticize one person's smile as being awkward. What the heck does that have to do with atheism or all atheists?

      "They say most atheists had issues with their fathers-thus the ultimate Father (God) will be rebelled against."
      Next you're going to start in on the "your momma" insults, right? The only issue I had as a child, and have even to this day, is this bothersome habit of not believing in things that have absolutely no proof.

      November 10, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • Zone 11

      When the rabid atheists get together, we tell jokes or horror stories; both are about believers.

      November 10, 2013 at 6:11 am |
  12. prophet

    so you consider the pope okay when he leaves thousands of ill people without money which the vatican could easily give.

    November 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  13. prophet

    many of the athiests on here talk about jsus etc and the taechings but if they don't believe in God then how can they acknowledge the teachings, you athiests are hypocrites and this is why you seem to agree with the pope because he too is a hypocrite.

    November 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Observer


      It's Christians who take HYPOCRISY to a new level. Look at all the Christian hypocrites who pick on gays while ignoring the MUCH GREATER problem (and number) of adulterous Christians. They also love to PRETEND that the Bible actually mentions abortion.

      Skip the HYPOCRISY.

      November 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      if you are going to talk authoritatively about "athiests," learn to spell the word.

      November 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  14. prophet

    but the unfortunate thing is that athiests because thye don't believe in God are not protected from teh christians and religion and so the pope who misleads the world and if any of you kn ew the Torah then It Says that in the end days many will be misled by the adversary pretending to represent God.

    November 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  15. prophet

    i feel sorry for anyone who thinks this pope is okay, he is misleading people and even the athiests who need to find God and not some pagan thing. But i suppose if athiests are so misled alraedy then they obviously have need to be misled.

    November 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  16. edwin

    He may be a progressive Pope but that doesn't prove the existence of God.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • L

      Saying "God doesn't exist" isn't disproving his existence yet many atheists think like believers do without realizing it.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:34 am |
      • Well Duh


        November 9, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  17. edwin

    Devout atheist??! Haha funny.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  18. L

    Atheism requires a lot of faith because they actually don't know if God doesn't exist much like a believer doesn't know if he does exist. Believing and stating there is no God(literally believing it) requires faith. Why atheists don't admit this to themselves, is beyond me. No matter what they claim or say, they can't escape having faith.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Well Duh

      I know now you are a troll, because I went over all with this with you. All you're doing now is trying to ruffle feathers.

      November 9, 2013 at 11:16 am |
      • L


        November 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • Maddy

          Yep. You apparently think that people haven't read the comments. Do you think continuing to beat a dead horse will bring it back?

          You're a troll. Period.

          November 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
        • L

          Nope. Atheism cannot be proven 100% correct neither can anybody else. Fact of life.

          November 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • Maddy

          Do you suffer from a reading comprehension disorder? Are you in capable of following a thread?

          Yep. You're a Poe.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Quasi

      Atheism require no faith whatsoever.
      Because the whole idea of anything supernatural creates so many logical contradictions, it cannot be so. Here is one really big one, and of many thousand such logical fallacies:
      If there were a deity who was omniscient, then he should have know better than to create first wave of humans and ALL land animals, that he had to destroy in a world-wide flood, especially after calling it all good. Adam and Eve only had 3 sons, (Cain, Abel and Seth), and he required them to commit incest to populate the Earth. Then, after leaving only a few of Noah's family alive, they also had to commit incest again, to repopulate the Earth.

      If an omnipotent deity exists, they what does such a powerful being need with such fallible human press secretaries? It is also ridiculous to expect something so powerful to be silent, invisible, absent and destructive. Then in scripture, it tells humans that slavery is OK, that murdering one's enemies is OK, and allowing them to steal land from others (in Israel and the North American Native) after making commandments like "Thou shalt not murder." and "Thou slat no steal.". God is surely a HYPOCRITE as well, and that is another great logical fallacy. I could go one for days.

      Nope! There is absolutely no evidence that anything supernatural exists. Religion is nothing but more mythology at best.

      November 9, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
      • Quasi

        I meant "Thou shalt not steal.". Sorry for the typos.

        November 9, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  19. Marla

    Every written message has an author. The meaning of a message is not to be found in the physics and chemistry of the paper and ink. DNA is a fantastic biological message and infers an author. This was one of the reasons that convinced Antony Flew, world's most famous atheist, to finally believe that God exists.

    November 9, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Science Works

      You might want to reconsider your comment.

      Novel Genetic Patterns May Make Us Rethink Biology and Individuality

      Nov. 7, 2013


      November 9, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson rebukes Richard Dawkins

      Hardly. It turns out that some of the world's greatest scientific minds invoked religion when they reached the limits of their knowledge. Then someone else comes along with a better understanding and solves the problem to which another had previously assigned God as the cause. Neil DeGrasse Tyson covers this in his Youtube video, "The Perimeter of Ignorance."

      November 9, 2013 at 8:35 am |
      • Marla

        Just repeating what Antony Flew says. Have you heard of him? It would be like Richard Dawkins coming out and saying he now believes in God. He was no dummy.

        November 9, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • Observer


          The ONLY thing atheists have in common is belief that there is no God or gods. That's it. Fantasizing that one person may accurate represent all of them is foolish. Atheists have a huge variety of beliefs about life.

          November 9, 2013 at 11:49 am |
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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.