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November 9th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

How Billy Graham became an American icon

Opinion by Molly Worthen, special to CNN

(CNN) - Under ordinary circumstances, Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch are probably not in the habit of attending the birthday parties of elderly Christian preachers in the North Carolina mountains.

But they were both among the hundreds of well-wishers at the party on Thursday marking Billy Graham’s 95th birthday.

Graham spent his career leading revivals around the globe, following a long tradition of evangelists who have traveled far and wide to urge sinners to accept Christ. But his birthday guest list shows that he is no ordinary preacher. He is a cultural icon, the most famous face of traditional Protestant Christianity.

“We need Billy Graham's message to be heard, I think, today more than ever," former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin told the crowd.

MORE ON CNN: Billy Graham turns 95 at star-studded birthday

What, exactly, is that message—and what accounts for its mass appeal? Now that Billy is 95, I wonder: is there anyone who can fill his shoes?

Graham rose to success in the God-fearing years of the early Cold War. In 1949, the year of Graham’s first big revival in Los Angeles, President Harry Truman told Americans that “the basic source of our strength as a nation is spiritual. ... Religious faith and religious work must be our reliance as we strive to fulfill our destiny in the world.”

Five years later, Congress added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. By the end of the decade, 65% of Americans belonged to a religious institution, and 90% told pollsters they believed in God and the power of prayer: they were ready to hearken to Graham’s call.

Tall, handsome, “like Gabriel in a gabardine suit” according to Time magazine, Graham appealed to Americans’ hunger for spiritual direction.

His sermons contained just the right mix of patriotism and reproof. He urged Americans to stand strong against “godless communism” but also criticized American hubris.

“We have an idea that we Americans are God's chosen people, that God loves us more than any other people, and that we are God's blessed,” he told an audience in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1958. “I tell you that God doesn't love us any more than He does the Russians.”

Graham urged his listeners to acknowledge their sins and embrace Christ; to quit making excuses and go to church. But he abandoned the strict fundamentalism of his youth for a less doctrinaire theology.

His crusades mobilized hundreds of volunteers from local churches—not just evangelical churches, but liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic parishes as well.

Graham had plenty of theological quarrels with these collaborators.

He accepted the assistance of New York Catholics during his crusade there in 1957, but three years later he helped organize Protestant ministers to oppose John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign.

However, when it came to evangelism, he was a broad-minded pragmatist - outraging hard-line fundamentalists, who demanded strict separation from other Christians.

He replied to his critics: “The one badge of Christian discipleship is not orthodoxy but love. Christians are not limited to any church. The only question is: are you committed to Christ?"

One member of Graham’s circle coined the term “neo-evangelical” to describe this attitude. They were all conservative evangelicals who had left fundamentalism to lead a revival of both the soul and the mind. They formed the National Association of Evangelicals to unite conservative Protestants. In 1956 they founded the magazine Christianity Today, an “evangelical, theologically oriented” alternative to liberal periodicals, Graham wrote.

Secular journalists quoted Graham as a capable spokesman for the evangelical point of view. Graham’s visits to the White House gave the impression that he was a Protestant pope, possessing Christian wisdom and a valuable imprimatur. Graham seemed to represent an American evangelical consensus.

But from the beginning, this consensus was more apparent than real.

Far more conservative Protestants stayed out of the National Association of Evangelicals than joined up. They thought of themselves as Baptists or Mennonites first, and “evangelical” second, if at all.

Some evangelicals rejected the idea that Christians must experience the radical “born-again experience” at the heart of Graham’s crusades: they believed that conversion is sometimes slow and incremental. Others objected to the conservative politics of Graham and his colleagues.

I have spent the past few years researching the stories of these different evangelical communities, ranging from pacifist Mennonites to tongues-speaking Pentecostals. I found that even if they disagreed with Billy Graham, they had no choice but to take him seriously.

They often defined their own beliefs against his ministry. Graham and other neo-evangelicals helped other Christians understand themselves more clearly. As a result, the fissures and tensions that have always divided the evangelical world are deeper than ever.

Billy Graham has no successor.

In today’s age of fragmented evangelicalism and social media-savvy churches, there is no individual who can represent American evangelicalism to the world. Every believer has his own favorite Christian blog, her own like-minded Twitter network. And evangelicalism’s golden age seems to be ending. The biggest denominations, booming during the height of Graham’s career, are now stagnating or losing members.

Graham’s career ranged well beyond American shores, and conservative Protestantism is flourishing in the Global South. Some evangelists there command crowds that rival or exceed Graham’s biggest crusades. For more than 50 years, the German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke has preached throughout Africa to audiences that range in the hundreds of thousands.

But evangelists making their careers in non-Western societies face different challenges than Graham did. They are trying to reach people who worry not about the threat of secular liberalism, but the fate of their unbaptized ancestors or witchcraft in their villages. In the Global South, the label “evangelical” implies similarities to American religion that don’t exist.

Billy Graham may be an icon of an era that has passed, a Christian coalition that was never as harmonious as it seemed.

His own message, however, remains the same. In his message on Thursday —perhaps his final sermon — he warned that “our country is in great need of a spiritual awakening.”

Molly Worthen is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of "Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity • evangelicals • Leaders • Opinion

soundoff (749 Responses)
  1. WMesser58

    i am always amazed at how blind sheep can regard a charlatan as someone who helps anyone.These holy rollers only help themselves and are supported by those who can least afford it. My mother was taken by these thieves but, that can be forgiven since she was illiterate but how can the masses keep supporting these con-ministers who only help themselves to your money. These have to be from the same people that believe the government has your best interest at heart. Keep being lead by theses thieves and you will be defining the definition of insanity.

    November 10, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  2. L

    Why should I believe atheism when it has no proof that it's the correct chose and all of us are wrong? Isn't that blind faith not knowing you are correct but blindly following it anyways? See atheism does take faith to not-believe!

    November 10, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • L

      •choice. Autocorrect fail.

      November 10, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Some people are atheist because they believe gods do not exist. Others have no belief in gods. Hope that helps.

      November 10, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • L

        It's still blind faith. They don't know yet many act like they do know. Without evidence, atheism is just another religion someone creates with their own mind. Atheism isn't any different from any other religion.

        November 10, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • Pete

          The fact you are trying to claim atheism is a religion shows you have no clue what you are talking about.

          November 10, 2013 at 10:57 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Let's suppose I never give gods a thought and never act on anything in a way that requires that I be informed about the existence of gods. Does that mean I have a religion?

          November 10, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • L

          Still takes faith to not believe in something you know in your heart must exists. Otherwise, many atheists wouldn't attach themselves deeply to Christianity. You can "dismiss" all the god(s) you want, even bring up Santa or the Easter Bunny but what god do you want proof of the most? It's blind faith because not even you "logical atheists" know for yourself. You rely on hope and faith your right because there's NO evidence to support your position.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • Pete

          "Still takes faith to not believe in something you know in your heart must exists. "

          So do you know in your heart that the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus must exist? Give us a break, you have no argument so you come up with nonsense like this, that means you have no clue what you're talking about.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • ME II

          @L,
          "Still takes faith to not believe in something you know in your heart must exists. "

          That's incorrect.
          Many Atheists simply see no reason to believe in god(s).

          November 10, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Personally, I want people to realize what many have realized, and what I feel in my heart of hearts: that no gods take part in the lives of anyone, and that implies we must care for one another in the ways believers hope their gods will.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • L

          And I see no reason to believe atheists. No atheist has presented evidence to the table because they don't think they need to. Ignorance is painful to admit.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          It's not painful to admit that I don't know if gods exist. But I do think that no gods are evident.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          L
          The onus is on you to provide evidence.
          Atheists need not give any evidence, because you can't prove a negative.

          Tell you what. You provide evidence that all of the other thousands of god DO NOT EXIST, and I will show you that yours also does not exist.

          You are the one who is making the claim that there is/are god(s)....please show YOUR evidence of any gods, or the evidence that all of the others don't exist.

          You will probably need to statrt with a course on logic.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          L,

          Why does your god require belief in order to get his love?

          November 10, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • ME II

          @L,
          Many Atheist are not making any claims, ergo they don't have the "burden of proof". I you claim that a god does exist then you have the burden to show the evidence that it is true.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      The fact that all people are born NOT believing in any gods and are by default atheist
      and the fact that you have to be taught about god
      and the fact that wherever you live, you will be taught about whatever god is worshipped in your area
      and the fact that there are many false stories, and flat out lies in the bible,

      Yes...atheism is the way to go. If you don't believe in Zeus...you are an atheist.
      If you don't believe in Odin, Ra , Ja, Quetzlcoatl.....you are an atheist.

      Do you think it takes a lot of faith to NOT believe in the thousands of other gods?
      Doe sit take faith to NOT believe in Santa Claus?

      November 10, 2013 at 11:07 am |
      • L

        Without religion, atheism wouldn't exist. Wrong again.

        November 10, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Without religion may or may not mean without God or gods. Without God or gods means atheism. Which is your natural state, by the way. You were born atheist.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • L

          Technically no. You aren't born with those opinions. You believe them along the way by other people usually. We are all born "atheist" but not the atheist you are now. The atheists we are when we are born isn't the atheist some adults will become if they choose it. As you get older, you create a belief out of atheism to match with your personal opinions and the way you view life. So technically, you are wrong but also right. Even you create your own world much like a religious person does. you aren't any different from them.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          That is a false statement.
          An atheist is someone who does not believe in gods.
          None of the animals have gods, so by default are atheist.
          A baby is born...does that baby believe in any gods? No...it will need to be taught about gods, since the default is not believing.

          You clearly do not understand that atheism is simply not be;ieving in gods. That is it, nothing more. You seem bent on trying to throw atheists in with YOUR need for YOUR delusion.
          Most atheists are also agnostic, meaning they do not believe in any of the man defined gods, but are open to the possibility that there may be something akin to a god, there just is no evidence.

          It is when I see someone who desperately are trying to show that atheists are using similar logic do get to their conlusions, and I see someone so steadfast in their belief that they refuse to admit they might be wrong....it is when that starts to happen, that you expose the mental illness symptom of delusion. Look it up....most religious fanatics fit the definition of delusional, especially if they cannot admit they might be wrong.

          I have never known an atheist who will not freely admit they could be wrong.

          November 10, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • Doris

        "Without religion, atheism wouldn't exist. Wrong again."

        LOL. oh my.. well, if fleas didn't exist, various remedies for them in the pet store would never have been developed, marketed and placed in a dedicated area of pet stores.

        November 10, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Be sceptical....of everything. Utilize critical thinking. Don't believe everything you read/hear. Do your own research. Ask questions. Come to your awn conclusions.

      Religion doesn't like unanswered questions....religion likes unquestioned answers.

      November 10, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  3. Neo Agnostic

    Religion is a mental disease.

    November 10, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • L

      Atheism is a mental disease.

      November 10, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • Pete

        Oh look a xtian who couldn't come up with their own original thought.

        November 10, 2013 at 10:54 am |
      • Observer

        L,

        Your incredible IGNORANCE is due to a lack of education.

        November 10, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • L

          Nope.

          November 10, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • Observer

          L

          "Nope."

          So what is the source of such incredible IGNORANCE that you would call atheism a "mental disease" as if you had any clue what a true mental disease is?

          November 10, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • Neo Agnostic

        If thinking for myself and not being told what to do by some book and some fictional man in the sky, then so be it. I have a mental disease.

        November 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Observer

      Neo Agnostic,

      You don't have a clue in the world what a true mental disease is.

      November 10, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • Neo Agnostic

        People who hear voices and claim they are from "god" is a mental illness.

        November 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • One more time

      Religious perspectives are excluded from the DSM series.

      November 10, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  4. Maddy

    or should i ask dorothy?

    November 10, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Maddy

      Problem, Maddy?

      November 10, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • Jeff Roem

        Nope.

        November 10, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  5. Maddy

    u think?

    November 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Maddy

      y so afraid, satan?

      November 10, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  6. Maddy

    let us avoid discussing his words.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    I am not a fan of Billy Graham because I cannot share his sight of baptism. I could ignore this conflict of opinion if it would be about a minor matter but the doctrine of baptism is one of the core doctrines or tenets of Christianity. Somebody who errs concerning baptism will dash against the whole Christian faith.

    Mr. Graham beliefs that baptism is an act of obedience, and a witness to the world that we are Christ's. Yet, this opinion is not according to the Bible. According to the Bible, and I share the opinion of Jesus and St. Paul, baptism is a sacral or sacramental act where the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is made present. At baptism we die and resurrect together with Jesus in a spiritual way. All barriers of space and time disappear, and we experience the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a perfect way (though Christ has died and resurrected 2000 years ago). By our reason we can only grasp the atonement character of Jesus' sacrifice but by baptism we also "grasp" the releasing power of Christ's sacrifice: we die for the sin, and resurrect together with Jesus for a new life in Him, or we enter Christ. In Christ, and having died for the sin, we can overcome our natural selfishness, and live a life of love of neighbour. Of course, baptism is no magical or no mechanical act – faith is necessary. But what is faith? Any discription available? Here is it: After sacramental baptism we belief when we are obedient. Or in other words: After sacramental baptism we can no longer argue we would lack faith in order to justifiy our misbehaviour but God tells us: You are baptized, now follow my Son Jesus in the power of his death and resurrection. Do certains steps, and you will be happy.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    Gospel: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, Jesus, for our sins, and raised him from the dead for our justification. This Gospel becomes effective for us through faith AND baptism.

    Let me furthermore remark that this doctrine is according to Luther, Bonhoeffer, Augustine, and all other significant Fathers of the Church.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Yes we know rainman...everyone does christianity wrong except you...you have it right....got it. Thanks.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
      • Neo Agnostic

        You get a hundred christians from a hundred different churches and none of them will agree on the same thing.

        November 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Your God does want some strange and arbitrary things – you must have part of your penis cut away to be one of its people, you must be water boarded to be saved, you must drink wine and eat bread and imagine it's the flesh and blood of Jesus.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        The circu-mcision is understandable. The Jews are always extremly inclined to be proud on their natural descent. By the sign of circu-mcision God tells the Jews that the descent is not very important but having the true faith. The pe-nis is the member of the man which represents natural descent. By reducing it through circu-mcision you express that this member that is descent is not that important. The great feature of Abraham was not his circu-mcision but the faith he had before. Abraham received the circu-mcision as a seal of his faith. Everyday when a Jew sees his "reduced" pe-nis he should think: Oh, my descent from Abraham is not that important but I should believe in the Redeemer which God has sent.

        This is according to St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 4.

        November 10, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • Ummmmm

          "This is according to St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 4."

          You can quote your book, but that is all it is a book. The bible is not a historical doc.ument it's full of literary genre and folk lore, just like all other religions man created.

          November 10, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        Concerning the Lord's Supper:

        At the Lord's Supper the releasing power of baptism is retained. Though sacramentally baptized we are always inclined to reduce Jesus' sacrifice to a mere atonement, and to say: "Well, Jesus has payed for my sins in advance; why shouldn't I keep on sinning, or even sin more or up to the maximum." Yet, in fact, through the Lord's Supper our connection with Jesus or Jesus sacrifice gets strenghened again every Sunday, so that we receive new power to overcome the sinfulness of our body or our natural sinfulness. It is not the case that we sacrifice Jesus in form of the host every Sunday again (this is the false Catholic doctrine), and hence could sin again and again because Jesus would be offered again and again every Sunday. No, through the Lord's Supper we receive power to overcome our sinfulness, and simply should do it from Monday to Sunday. Of course, Jesus sacrifice is also an atonement for our sins, but the faith which grasps that really is only the faith which also appreciates the delivering power of Jesus' sacrifice.

        The mystery of the Lord's Supper is that Jesus gave a promise: "This is my body, and this is my blood which was given for you". That means that when we eat bread and wine, we ingest Jesus in a sacral way. We participate in the releasing power of Jesus' sacrifice though we cannot grasp it by our reason.

        God has insti-tuted two sacrament to solve the problem that even the man who wants to do good does of bad or worse. Only by the faith and the sacrament we can overcome the deep damnation of our nature which we have inherited from the fallen Adam.

        November 10, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • Ummmmm

          " "This is my body, and this is my blood which was given for you". "

          You do know this was stolen from other religions and wasn't unique to Christianity.

          November 10, 2013 at 10:34 am |
        • Rainer Braendlein

          Concerning the Lord's Supper:

          At the Lord's Supper the releasing power of baptism is retained. Though sacramentally baptized we are always inclined to reduce Jesus' sacrifice to a mere atonement, and to say: "Well, Jesus has payed for my sins in advance; why shouldn't I keep on sinning, or even sin more or up to the maximum." Yet, in fact, through the Lord's Supper our connection with Jesus or Jesus sacrifice gets strenghened again every Sunday, so that we receive new power to overcome the sinfulness of our body or our natural sinfulness. It is not the case that we sacrifice Jesus in form of the host every Sunday again (this is the false Catholic doctrine), and hence could sin again and again because Jesus would be offered again and again every Sunday. No, through the Lord's Supper we receive power to overcome our sinfulness, and simply should do it from Monday to Sunday. Of course, Jesus sacrifice is also an atonement for our sins, but the faith which grasps that really is only the faith which also appreciates the delivering power of Jesus' sacrifice.

          The mystery of the Lord's Supper is that Jesus gave a promise: "This is my body, and this is my blood which was given for you". That means that when we eat bread and wine, we ingest Jesus in a sacral way. We participate in the releasing power of Jesus' sacrifice though we cannot grasp it by our reason.

          God has insti-tuted two sacraments to solve the problem that even the man who wants to do good does often bad or worse. Only by the faith and the sacraments we can overcome the deep damnation of our nature which we have inherited from the fallen Adam.

          November 10, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • Ummmmm

          "The mystery of the Lord's Supper is that Jesus gave a promise: "This is my body, and this is my blood which was given for you"."

          There's no mystery, this was stolen from other religions of that time and pure folk lore.

          November 10, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  8. saggyroy

    "Billy Graham has no successor." – Maybe there is a god after all.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Miss Demeanor

      Good one. Or maybe the "Gawwwwd of Patriotic Christianity" doesn't exist.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  9. Colin

    I recall as a child watching a fired up, enthusiastic Billy Graham in 1975, railing with all his passionate charisma against the plague of abortion.

    Unfortunately, Billy Graham’s god is a hiding, dodging, elusive god. In fact, the evangelical Christian god is probably the most elusive character in all of literature. We are assured that he loves little babies and despises abortion. Yet Roe v. Wade was decided 40 over years ago. By their own numbers, this means that over a hundreds million babies have been aborted since the decision in the USA alone (by comparison, the highest estimates have Hitler killing six million Jews in World War II). On most days, if you drive past Planned Parenthood in Washington DC, you will see a small group of evangelicals praying on the lawn that abortions in the USA stop.

    This mirrors what happens all over the country. At abortion clinics, at public gatherings, in churches and in private homes all over the USA, countless millions of prayers over a forty year period have been offered up that abortions stop. A very easy task for an omnipotent being. One wave of his mighty hand and they stop, one clear manifestation of his divine will (and I mean a real, unambiguous one) and we stop at once.

    And yet – total silence. Total inaction. And the abortions continue. The prayers of the faithful are faithfully ignored. Exactly what we would expect if there was nothing there listening to us.

    Unfortunately, for all his passion, all his charisma and all his toils, he cannot make something out of nothing. There is god- no Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or native American god or spirit "up there" looking down on us, willing to intervene when we go awry. If one measures a life by how effective it was, this impassioned man lived a completely deluded, wasted life chasing a phantom – a non-existent late Jewish Bronze Age sky fairy. But, if one measures a life by the degree of success he achieved and the happiness this futile pursuit brought him, he apparently lived a very rich, full and rewarding life.

    I guess it all comes down to reality. Is it important that your dream be real or not? Mhhh, maybe those believers have a point after all.......

    November 10, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Some of us dream of an inclusive, sustainable society devoted to the progress and well-being of everyone. Unlke a dream of gods, it can happen. As I see it, gods and promises of gods get in the way. They prevent people from taking up their responsibility to make life better for everyone.

      November 10, 2013 at 7:58 am |
      • Colin

        Yeah, I tend toward that view, too. If I were chasing a non-existent afterlife and spending considerable time on it, I would want to know so I could channel my efforts into something worthwhile. But millions take comfort from false dreams, especially the intellectually or emotionally weak. Not sure we need to rip their security blanket away from them.

        November 10, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • counterww

      God does not violate the free will of humans. Humans have chosen to kill humans. Your post is very long. Seems like you have a lot invested in the fact many believe in God and it bothers you. Find another hobby.... you won't be so bitter.

      November 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • Colin

        You said "God does not violate the free will of humans. Humans have chosen to kill humans."

        In that case, prayer is still useless, you just posit a disinterested, non-intervening god, as opposed to none at all. Classic Christian logic – God withholds all proof of himself whenever prayers fail to give us "free will." But the minute something good happens, a miracle and answered prayers are proclaimed. Well, which is it, does he intervene or not ?

        November 10, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Why does god favor the free will of the killer/molester over the free will of the victim whose will it is to stay unmurdered/unmolested?

        November 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  10. Reality # 2

    Billy G. is paid $400,000/yr. for showing up at his birthday party every five years. (guidestar.org). Graham, his son, makes over $ one million per year and he sponsors said party. Nice racket!!!

    November 10, 2013 at 5:23 am |
    • saggyroy

      All you need is a nice suit, a microphone, and to memorize a couple dozen bible verses, and yes, you too can become rich beyond your wildest dreams.

      November 10, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • Reality # 2

        Amen 🙂

        November 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    Jesus has been disabled since he rose from the dead carrying with him the burden of the sins of every human soul, past, present and future. Sins the He indeed created to begin with and must have been pondering the wisdom of that choice about the time the miserable world he created was becoming all he would ever know, for he had sacrificed himself and accepted this unfortunate doom. But who am I to be critical. Anyway, that is why atheists think there is no god. The fact is he’s just beat down and will be for all eternity. So it is LIKE there is no god even when there is a God. Common sense.

    November 10, 2013 at 2:46 am |
    • Maddy

      U reject him because u love sin.

      November 10, 2013 at 2:49 am |
  12. Apple Bush

    I was there the hour they crucified my Lord and it was my unpleasant duty to remove him from the tree.

    November 10, 2013 at 2:22 am |
    • Maddy

      his body was heavy

      limp
      broken
      lifeless
      sweat and blood and dirt reflected a shiny thin smooth film,
      glistening in the moonlight
      no one was there
      all quiet except for several birds in the distant night sky
      humming insects
      a few small animals seeking prey

      November 10, 2013 at 2:29 am |
      • Maddy

        all innocent

        free of the gruesomeness

        that devoured the day

        November 10, 2013 at 2:31 am |
      • Maddy

        the piercing sweetness of a warm desert night

        dry and healing

        November 10, 2013 at 2:38 am |
    • Maddy

      it was a sacred moment

      November 10, 2013 at 2:36 am |
  13. Maddy

    were u there when they crucified your lord? that's where he is when u suffer

    watching u help his killers

    c him?

    November 10, 2013 at 2:17 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Yeah, he's got killer abs.

      November 10, 2013 at 2:19 am |
      • Maddy

        he was homely

        rejected
        forsaken

        but u give head.

        November 10, 2013 at 2:22 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Hand-jobs. The two Marys gave head.

          November 10, 2013 at 2:30 am |
        • Maddy

          nah

          they were washed clean

          November 10, 2013 at 2:33 am |
        • Ponyboy Garfunkel

          Just think, in another year you two guys will be in high school!

          November 10, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Maddy

      blow all ur friends

      all ur enemies

      lol

      November 10, 2013 at 2:20 am |
    • Maddy

      I am mad as a hatter. Hence my name. I seen him... Elvis

      November 10, 2013 at 10:03 am |
      • Steak n ale

        I still eat bumble bees

        November 10, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  14. Maddy

    were u there when they crucified your lord? that's where he is when u suffer

    watching u help his killers

    November 10, 2013 at 2:15 am |
  15. Maddy

    were u there when they crucified your lord?

    November 10, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • redzoa

      I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword . . .

      November 10, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I was in the crowd offering hand-jobs for pennies. I made quite a hefty sum that day, although I was beaten by a really slvtty chick named Mary Magdalene. Damn that chick could jerk it.

      November 10, 2013 at 2:17 am |
      • Maddy

        u didn't make enough

        give it to the poor

        November 10, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  16. Maddy

    where were u when they crucified my lord?

    November 10, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • why you askin

      You're with the FBI aren't you. Look, I didn't have nuthin' to do with killin' that Jeebus guy. And his momma... she said she was eighteen... I swear...

      November 10, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  17. Sam P.

    It's a shame, a generation that is ashamed of Jesus' death on the cross, because of what it means: It DEMANDS not suggests a surrender of your life to Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. And by the way, for those of you who like to accuse that the message of Christ is only for white people, I'm not. I'm Asian. Billy Graham's message is for everyone.

    November 10, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I don't like when hippy carpenters demand stuff off of me. If we were in Florida, I'd pull out my strap and lay his hippy ass out, stand your ground style.

      November 10, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "It DEMANDS not suggests a surrender of your life to Christ as your personal Lord and Savior."

      Sounds like being involved in an abusive relationship.

      November 10, 2013 at 12:38 am |
      • Maddy

        u r in one presently

        November 10, 2013 at 2:06 am |
      • Pascal revisited

        Would you rather bow to an invisible person or a visible person?
        Is it better to commit yourself to an idea outside of yourself (ie: compassion) or is it better to be dedicated to your own pursuits?

        November 10, 2013 at 3:57 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          My own pursuits. Also, committing oneself is entirely different to submitting oneself.

          November 10, 2013 at 4:04 am |
        • Pascal revisited

          That's an interesting choice. Why the commitment to one's self as opposed to an idea outside of one's self?

          November 10, 2013 at 4:13 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Tangibility.

          November 10, 2013 at 4:15 am |
        • Pascal revisited

          Let me revisit this, an idea outside of one's self can be anything. You could choose a commitment to a society, a commitment to justice or a commitment to ending literal religious interpretations (which most of you seem to be passionate about).

          That's the short of committing to something outside of yourself. From there it is just a matter of what personal cost to you is allowable.

          November 10, 2013 at 4:18 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I have no interest in ending literal interpretation of religious texts. I find it kooky and hilarious. I do have an interest though in making fat stacks of greenbacks and living a life of luxury.

          November 10, 2013 at 4:21 am |
        • Pascal revisited

          I hope you succeed. Once you do though I think you'll find you'll want to invest all that into a purpose be it your own family or some larger cause. It's just part of the human experience it starts usually at about age forty. I'm guessing you are still in the ambitious twenties of your life.

          November 10, 2013 at 4:45 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Why should I have to bow to either?

          Why do you say 'compassion' is outside myself?

          It is better to determine one's own pursuit.

          November 10, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Where is your God now?

      Sam P., I demand of Jesus that he quits killing children. Fuck your gods.

      November 10, 2013 at 12:59 am |
      • Maddy

        lol

        November 10, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Sam P. is too much of a pussy to respond to his detractors. Hey Sam P., why in the world would anyone be ashamed of some stinky criminal that got crucified thousands of years ago. Are you high?

      November 10, 2013 at 1:18 am |
      • Maddy

        your momma!

        November 10, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      I dislike the concept of emotional blackmail. I never asked for anyone to die for me. I am an adult. I am responsible for my own actions.

      November 10, 2013 at 1:54 am |
      • Maddy

        we r so proud of u!

        November 10, 2013 at 2:04 am |
  18. Where is your God now?

    Ron was just a small child when it started. Bath time had become more than soap and bubbles when Ron’s mother introduced asphyxiation into the childhood ritual. While in the tub Ron’s mother would hold a bath towel over his mouth until he screamed "I can't breathe!", she’d let go, but then do it again. “She’d do it over and over, for what felt like hundreds of times,” Ron explained. Soon, it wasn’t just bath time, but all the time. Ron’s life was becoming an ongoing nightmare. A padlock was latched on his bedroom door. Ron’s mother used the lock to keep him caged in the room for hours on end. “I’d be locked in there so long, eventually I’d have to relieve myself on the burgundy carpet.”

    November 10, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • Maddy

      where was science?

      November 10, 2013 at 2:05 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        In the Bahamas.

        November 10, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • Pascal revisited

      If God exists in my heart and mind what you are asking me is where was I? To answer your question I wasn't there, I didn't know about it until just now.

      If you were asking about where God was in the heart and mind of the abuser that would be a question for that person.

      November 10, 2013 at 4:12 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.