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. ghostclown

    I don't know why CNN is involved in this heavy pro-pope propaganda but they are in it deep with this series of stories.

    November 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • amniculi

      Well, this IS the Belief Blog, so it's not exactly inappropriate.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • CommonSense

      Let's see ... he's the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion (with a "B") people in the world and he appears to be dramatically different than all popes in any current person's lifetime (with the possible exception of JP II). In a world where actions definitely speak louder than words, he continues to demonstrate a consistent departure from the past.

      And you don't think that is more newsworthy than yet another CNN political story about how the country is going downhill (it's not, btw)?

      Pick your head up and take a good look at this. There is something very interesting gathering steam ...

      November 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        A Billion? Wow! If only there was something else that had a billion followers to compare it to, let me see, maybe something from this very article.... hmmm... Doh! Twitter has a billion (with a B) followers too! So I guess we should start praying to Twitter now...!

        common: 2. showing a lack of taste and refinement; vulgar.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          And Twitter is also newsworthy. Your point?

          November 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        he's what? spiritual leader? not mine

        November 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  2. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    To me this is more like appreciating an actor who plays a superhero in a movie. You can enjoy and even admire the actor and his skill at portraying the charcter without actually believing the superhero can fly or shoot lasers from his eyes.

    November 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • CommonSense

      Completely incorrect analogy ...

      The point is that people are being drawn to this person because he is not acting at all. His actions appear to be genuine.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        I believe the analogy to be very apt as I said I "admire the actor AND his skill at portraying the charcter". I can believe this Pope to be genuinely compassionate without believing he is actually the right hand of God on earth, though he is playing that part quite well, but it is just an act, at least the being Pope part. There is nothing supernatural about him or his position.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        I think the analogy is an excellent one.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • Gol

        I don't think it's good.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  3. moo

    He doesn't seem to be following the rules of the Bible, so he's all good in my book.

    November 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Brad76

      Actually, he is. 🙂 He's doing it the right way.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Monk

      And that's what satan has accomplished with him

      Rev 12
      7 And war broke out in heaven: Mi′cha•el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled 8 but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. 9 So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him

      Math 24
      23 “Then if anyone says to YOU, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. 25 Look! I have forewarned YOU.

      2cnd cor

      14 And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. 15 It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness. But their end shall be according to their works.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
      • smr413

        Are you saying this Pope is the anti-Christ? Give it up already. Oh, and take your meds.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • John

        I have to agree with smr413, this sort of looks like an attack on the pope, and frankly I don't see it sticking.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  4. Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson rebukes Richard Dawkins

    The rise of the "nones' could have a lot to do with the presence of Francis. The Catholic church (in the U.S.) has been losing parishoners, and this may also reverse their monetary losses. He seems to be a good guy, though, and who can't like that.

    November 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • bostontola

      I agree with the premise but the RCC looks much more broadly than at the US. They picked this guy because he will improve recruitment in Asia and Africa. Thats where the battle for souls will be in the 21st century. Countries with high rates of education (like the US) are poor markets for souls.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • smr413

        i wonder why....

        November 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • James M.

        Ummm...perhaps you should look up the meaning of the phrase, "the New Evangelization." Asia and Africa are not mission states, Western Europe and America are. Many American parishes are now headed by African, Indian, and Filipino priests.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  5. amniculi

    As long as the church continues covering for pedophiles there's nothing to like about it.

    November 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Just proves their "moral authority" is self proclaimed and their "teachings" are only used for subjugation.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Maani

      As long as YOU do even ONE thing wrong, there is NO reason to like YOU. ???

      November 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • amniculi

        If that one thing was being a pedophile or covering for one then absolutely.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        It would be soooo much better if it was only ONE thing .. but no, it's one thing thousands of times .. then covering it up & hiding the guilty, while at the same time claiming to be the moral authority on the planet! That is so absurd it's beyond words ... and your defense of that is just as absurd.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • amniculi


          November 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  6. Lionly Lamb

    Hey there Pope Francis...

    "Where do you say the kingdom domains of God are located"..? Are manmade churches truly of God's kingdom domains..? Or as it is written that, "the kingdom of God is within you"- is it a truth worthy of contemplation..? I've also read that we labor together and with God who is our husbandry and we or our bodies are all God's buildings...

    November 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Craig

    I agree the "new guy" seems like a pretty good person. Maybe the important lesson here is more basic:

    Lots of atheists have read the Bible and looked deeply into various religions, deciding that none of them seem to measure up. However, that doesn't mean they have automatically discarded the ideas that Jesus supposedly espoused. I think the real "love affair" with the new pope is simply a reflection that for the first time in a long time the Pope actually sounds something like what Jesus did, and he backs it up with actions. At least within recent times, any similarity between the Catholic Church and the teachings of Jesus were accidental. This guy apparently actually read the book and took some of it to heart. People don't like him because he's the Pope...they like him because he seems like a decent human being who actually cares about others, especially those that Jesus said we ought to care about.

    November 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Cheeko

      Right on the money. If more Christian's actually followed the teachings instead of spouting off what some leader with an agenda tells them, the world would be a far better place. I think anyone athiest or otherwise can get behind the idea of treating fellow humans with compassion and being a general good individual.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  8. Kenman

    While I too appalud the Pope's compassion for the disfigured man, it is NOT a good thing that the current leader of the Catholic Church is so liberal with his views of church tenets that atheists agree with him.

    It was prophesized that in the End Times that good would be evil and evil good; it's not hard to recognize the signs!

    November 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • bostontola

      Elvis and Hitler were the master minds. JFK knew about it and was going to spill the beans so they had to assassinate him. Hitler was the trigger man and Elvis signaled the all clear with his umbrella. Jimmy Hoffa drove the getaway car.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • Bob

        Great response.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Bob

      Kenman, that whole prophecy bit is a steaming pile of bull-do. Anyone can say something general such as "bad shit is gonna happen", and enough events happen that they will eventually be right. "Prophecies" like the one that you tried to present, that don't put specific dates on the predicted events, just stink.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Emily

      How is it not a good thing to get your foot in a door which was previously locked? This is why he chose the name Francis, he wants to fix the church.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It's not that he's "liberal with the tenets of the church" – it's just that he's refused to beat the dead horse of theology that isn't going to change.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      But he isn't liberal at all. Not a thing has he changed nor said he would change. And your prophecy applies far more to Benedict than this one.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  9. Craig

    If atheists love this pope, they should absolutely love Jesus! If you read his accounts, he was as good and better than this pope in every way. It's unfair to Him (and themselves) to judge Him on the failings of his followers (and those stated to be followers who may not be). And the Christians should embrace the atheists' acceptance and enthusiasm toward the pope. Wherever his heart is, whatever the purpose for what he does, he is spreading the love and word of Christ, and that is not a bad thing.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      People who are atheist are realists. We can hear and see the Pope's actions, unlike hearing/reading stories of folklore handed down and altered to meet the new needs as societies change. That's the difference between the Pope and Jesus. We also can like the person but disagree with theology ... apparently unlike most religious followers I've met or read on these forums.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • UncleM

      Jesus, probably semi-fictional or an amalgam of several people, is portrayed as a good man, and the golden rule is present in many religions and philosophies. But Jesus wasn't a deity, so there's no reason to worship him.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Hoss

      If you're right, I'm going to hell because of jesus. F%ck jesus.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • ?

      Psst Craig, Frankie is real, those are real photos of him. Jesus on the other hand only exists in a rather dubious old book, can you discern the difference? BTW until someone replicates the miracles attributed to jesus it is all just good story telling/myth.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Andy

      Many atheists do find the representation of Jesus admirable, along with the representation of Buddha and some of the other "founders" of religion. It's Paul who really messed up Christianity, by the way–Paul had issues.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Jesus is OK, but if you're talking characters in books, I'll take Harry Potter any day. Or if we are talking possibly historical figures, there are too many to choose from. George Washington, Queen Elizabeth spring to mind.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  10. the dude

    so fake... all those pretending to like him while claiming to be atheist.

    to support false gods is detrimental to society. why can't you just gather at church for social reasons and leave the invented gods out of it?

    November 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  11. John

    'God' is a pointless concept even without building a religion around it. The concept and the faiths are just drugs, perhaps most akin to seretonin.(sp?) But there IS such a thing as moral and immoral behavior. Even an Objectiivist would have to agree that if you would like someone to help you in your hours of helplessness (like birth, dying, or injuries/illness in between), you can only make a moral claim to that if you yourself would help others.

    This Pope Francis appears to be a good man. I like that.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  12. chrism

    Nearly all Christians I know do walk the walk. So I don't know why many here in the comment section bash them... repeatedly. As far as the pope, he is a breath of fresh air and truly showing how to lead by example. Jesus Christ most certainly led that way. Though He also fearlessly spoke the truth even when people didn't want to hear it. I certainly don't judge the previous popes and they did a lot of good despite being pope during the scandals. I agree though this pope makes me rethink what church leadership should be. They should live like Jesus. I don't know the vatican is a beautiful church and though it appears wealthy, the church's vast "wealth" is really a matter of owning many parcels of land... parcels bought by local people who wanted to have that land for a local church to come and worship. The bishops like the bishop of bling are the outliers. Many of us are inspired by this pope. Let that say something and recognize that it means that inside of each of us, this is what we believe in. Goodness. Love. Kindness to others. I don't think the previous popes disagreed though. I think the biggest thing is when a pope says for example that marriage is made by God for man and wife, or that God made s-x to be natural and not use contraception, somehow people turn that into "intolerance" and "hate." I don't think so. I think some self-proclaiming #atheists ought to think about whether they are being honest when they label that "hate."

    November 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • RichG

      Well, if most christians walk the walk like you say then they would not use contraceptives, stone women, cut off a hand if it troubled them, and the list goes on.....

      November 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • chrism

        No, most Christians that I know certainly do not stone women nor cut off people's hands nor likely do other things on your private "list" like you say.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • John

        They certainly would use contraceptives! If they didn't they would have 2 choices-abortion, or murder after birth. Infanticide, fratricide, patricide, homicide. Because if they did NOTHING to stop overpopulation, EVERYBODY would die from that. Disease! Or war!

        Oh, but you are thinking abstinence. Forget it, that wasn't programmed into life forms by, oh, by whom? Who did that now...? (And why? So everyone would necessarily be GUILTY?)

        So why do you like abortion so much, that you would stop unwanted but magical chemical reactions before they happen?

        November 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  13. JJ

    Gotta love how capitalism works...new pop, lots of marketing dollars and you get stories on all news outlets about how people loooove the pope and Catholicism rises again...yeah I get it, we all should love the pope and pump money back into religion because the Vatican paid top advertising and public relations dollars to make sure of that.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • JBHedgehog

      JJ – you are reading things into this story that are just NOT there.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • JJ

        Perhaps there's much more to this that you are not reading...You call him Pope Francis but I see Pope Lotzadough because the Vatican has ramped up its public relations budget with this Popa to make sure the Catholic Church makes a strong comeback after the last generation...membership = dollars my friend and Jesus needs lots of it be continue being relevant in this world...it's not a coinkidink that every news outlet everyday is carrying at least one story on how lovely this new Pope is...they paid so we could pray

        November 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  14. dalai

    I am glad some of these "atheists" are coming back to their senses.... 🙂

    November 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • John

      Is that what you got out of these tweets? That these rational thinkers who don't believe in your mythological creature in the sky are going to "come back"? Wow. Just wow.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      We have always had our senses. It shouldn't surprise anyone that we are open minded enough to appreciate a positive change in the leadership of the Catholic church.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Rick

      They already came to their senses when they stopped believing in a fairy tale written a thousand years ago to manipulate and control the weak minded. I can believe the pope is a great man with a great heart and still not believe that woman shouldn't be allowed to teach, or you shouldn't mix fabrics or gays are an abomination. I can believe the Pope is a great human being without believing someone put 2 of each animal in a boat and some sky fairy killed every other living being on the planet.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • mrsinned

      I'm an atheist and I'm pretty sure this Pope Francis would be disappointed in your condescending post.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  15. KellyinBoston

    Can't say that I'm atheist (I'd probably describe myself as a "I-kinda-hope-there-is-a-God" agnostic. But I find Pope Francis inspiring and hopeful. For the critics who think that he should already have "changed" things by now, keep in mind that he's been Pope for fewer than 8 months. He's a very public world figure, the Vatican and the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is a complex bureaucracy, and he's got more than a few things going on. Be a little realistic.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • bostontola

      Why do you hope there is a god?

      November 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • Roger that

        I'm with you. Kelly better hope there isn't a god, at least the Bible god anyway. If that god were real, we would all be doomed believers and non-believers. Hitler's victims died and suffered no more. The Bible god wants to torture you for eternity. That kind of evil is unconscionable.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  16. ELR

    Not Catholic, but I have to admit even I have a little Pope crush. He is just plain nice and its hard not to like that.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Matthew

    The pope is a minister of Satan. A genuine minister of the Gospel will point people to Jesus Christ. The pope points people to himself. This pope in particular is much more concerned with "thus saith man" than "thus saith the Lord." The True Gospel isn't going to be popular because it teaches One Way for salvation and that Way is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). That's why Jesus Himself said that Christians would be hated for His name's sake (Matthew 10:22). The fact that this pope is loved by the secular world should tell everyone that he is an apostate.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • ?

      What a grouch. I tend to see the whole Christian thing as a well developed scam but if you think that Frankie is an apostate, how do you feel about the cheap evangelical hustlers that ply their trade in mega churches and Sunday TV drivel? Send your donation......

      November 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • LPN

      Let me guess...the only "true" form of xtianity is the one you belong to?


      November 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • HASSA

      Thus saith the man passing judgement on another. Romans 2:1 "Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things."

      November 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • Richard

        You tell him.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • John

      I'm so glad that the vast majority of you ignorant zealots live thousands of mile from me.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Michael

      Matthew, people just like you said the same ugly things about Jesus Christ 1,980 years ago this year. Jesus never told anyone to "point people to Jesus". He told people to say and do the kind of things that Pope Francis is saying and doing. Face it, you don't like the man because he is not part of your little extremist clique. You take pleasure in fantasizing about non-members of your little clique burning in hell while you and your hater friends look on smirking. Admit it. Pope Francis is an example of a follower of Christ; folks like you only give Christ a bad name.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      You are the kind of "Christian" that cause atheists to respond in a way that makes people think we hate all Christians when what we really hate is ignorance.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • kwhisperer

      The Pope seems to genuinely appreciate people with good hearts and they in turn appreciate him. – nothing apostate about that.

      November 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • shinash

      Oh, I see.... Is that why the priests abusing children, wasting church funds and ignoring the poor and suffering are to be excused? Because they act in the name of God?

      November 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  18. ?

    Frankie is ok, but he has in the ranks of the clergy a clique, much like the Congress has the Tea Party, that will do everything they can to protect their turf and put a halt to any meaningful reform. The Vatican is all about undemocratic politics until they give women an equal voice, not bloody likely.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    Benedict was a bureaucrat who managed to destroy what goodwill JP II had managed to build in his decades of global travels.
    This mew guy is a good public face for the Vatican – he is doing an excellent job of exemplifying the Christian ideals of compassion, humility and charity.
    Of course, he is still a Catholic – many of his ideologies are anathema to atheists, but I'd rather him be the face of the RCC as opposed to the guy who literally wrote the book on hiding pedophiles.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Agree, well said.

      November 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
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.