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December 24th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

CNN Poll: Pope's approval rating sky-high

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - As Pope Francis prepares to celebrate his first Christmas at the Vatican, Americans' opinions of the pontiff appear to be as high as the dome on St. Peter's Basilica, according to a new survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday found that 88% of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the 1.2 billion-member church.

The popular pontiff has also made a positive impression among Americans in general: Nearly three in four view Francis favorably.  The new survey suggests that the Pope is arguably the most well-regarded religious figure among the American public today, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Nine months into his papacy, the Argentine-born Francis has captured attention with crowd-pleasing acts of compassion, from embracing a severely disfigured man, to washing the feet of juvenile delinquents, to hosting homeless men at his birthday Mass this month.

The Pope has also shown a common touch rare for such a lofty religious leader. He has eschewed the trappings of the papacy in favor of humbler digs, simpler vestments and a cheaper car. He worked as a bar bouncer and a janitor before he was a priest, and is not shy about telling people.

Pope: I was once a bar bouncer

According to one study, Pope Francis was the most talked about person on the Internet this year, and even atheists have professed appreciation for the 77-year-old pontiff.

The breadth of Francis' popularity was on display at American newsstands this month: he was named person of the year by both Time magazine and The Advocate, a gay and lesbian publication.

"While 2013 will be remembered for the work of hundreds in advancing marriage equality, it will also be remembered for the example of one man," The Advocate said. In remarks that rippled across the globe, Pope Francis said in July, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?

Pope Francis on gays: 'Who am I to judge?'

While the Pope has not changed church doctrine, he has urged Catholics to shift their focus from culture war issues to caring for people on society's margins, especially the poor.

"I see the church as a field hospital after battle," Francis said in September.

American Catholics appear to like the new course the Pope has set for their church. Nearly two-thirds agree with him about the amount of attention that should be paid to issues such as abortion and homosexuality, according to the CNN/ORC poll.

More than 85% of American Catholics say Francis is neither too liberal nor too conservative, and 86% say he's in touch with the modern world. By comparison, more than half of American Catholics said Pope John Paul II was out of step with the times in 2003, near the end of his 26-year-long papacy.

But Francis has been a fierce critic of the status quo, especially what calls the "idolatry of money" present in modern-day capitalism. In a papal statement last month, for example, the Pope blasted the theory of trickle-down economics, calling it "crude and naïve."

Conservative critics such as Rush Limbaugh pounced on the Pope's remarks, calling him a closet Marxist. But nearly two in three American Catholics agree with the Pope about capitalism and the free market's effects on the poor, according to the CNN/ORC poll.

Pope: Marxist ideology is 'wrong'

On other key issues for Catholics - the role of women in the church and the sexual abuse crises - Francis gets similarly high ratings from his American flock.

More than six in 10 American Catholics agree with Francis' comments about women in the church, according to the CNN/ORC poll. The Pope has said that women should have a larger role in church governance but cannot be ordained as priests.

Similarly, more than six in 10 American Catholics say Francis is doing a good job handling fallout from the church's sexual abuse scandal, even as most (64%) also say the church overall has done a poor job on the issue.

This month, the Vatican announced the creation of a new commission to care for victims of clergy sexual abuse and to prevent future crimes.

American Catholics had given especially low marks on the sexual abuse scandal to Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, with just 36% saying in 2010 that he had handled the issue well.

CNN's Holland said it's difficult to ascertain exactly how Francis' popularity stacks up against his predecessors, however. "It's a tough question since polling on Popes is pretty sparse," he said.

What's more, like political polling, approval ratings shift depending on the public mood and perception of a Pope's performance.

For example, three-quarters of American Catholics approved of how John Paul was leading the church in 1994; that number rose to 84% in 1999 and dipped to 64% in 2003, at the height of the church's sexual abuse crisis.

It remains to be seen how long the honeymoon will last for Francis, and how long he can continue to build goodwill among American Catholics.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on December 16 through Thursday, with 1,035 adults nationwide, including 191 Catholics, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Pope Francis' greatest hits of 2013

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Leaders • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Sex abuse • Vatican

soundoff (3,274 Responses)
  1. Austin

    i do not know why i have prophetic visions, but i do know this. ...

    God does not serve me. or you. or James Randi. He will life up His name on His own. I have nothing for you. He does.

    Do you want to reveive your own ordained testimony?

    January 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
    • Hey Yabbott!

      Wait a minute. You were begging people to get you in with Randi and had explored it yourself, and now you conveniently say you won't take his challenge? That's pretty weaselly, Austin.

      January 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
      • sam stone

        yabbott: he wants to hide behind the "sacrifice" of a sinless person for his own salvation

        i think that, by defintion, identifies him as a weasel

        January 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      nonsense, austin: if god did not serve those who believe in him, he would not exist, like all the other gods of the ancient world whose followers have died

      January 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      if you have nothing for us, austin, does that mean you are going to leave and stop blathering on about your hallucinations?

      January 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    christians claim that the bible is THE WORD of their omnipotent, perfect god.

    So based on the contradictory, ambiguous, brutal, misogynistic, scientifically historically and factually incorrect content of the bible, it amazes me that christians would actually worship such an incoherent, raving, nasty, petulant, sad.istic, confused, lying deity.

    If it was the word of a perfect god then the whole book would be PERFECT! Flawless. There would be absolutely no errors! There would be absolutely no contradictions. There would be absolutely no lines that could be ignored by christians or taken as guidance and not command. There would be no need for translation or interpretation or explanation or apology because it would be perfect.

    Instead, you have a book that either is not the word of an omnipotent perfect god, or if these ARE his words, he is far from omnipotent and perfect

    January 2, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • And again

      What makes you think they all believe the bible. I've met quite a few who have never actually read it.

      January 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
    • Al_Z_Brains

      Your posts read like evangelical preachers' rants, including your anger, intensity, rhythm and measure. Good job.

      January 3, 2014 at 3:36 am |
  3. Austin

    wanted do explain something to people who mock salvation.

    God has provided salvation. there are two categories of people.
    1 people who received the promise of atonement and salvation and are saved.
    2. people who hear the gospel and reject it.

    There is justice for both groups of people.
    THere is salvation for those who receive the Word, and there is seperation for those who do not.

    Both groups of people receive the justice that the deserve. There is no injustice.

    There is no injustice.

    5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

    9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

    10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

    16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

    January 2, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • JWT

      And as long as you understand that your interpretation of the bible applies onto to you and you don' ttry to make or expect others to live by it all is good.

      January 2, 2014 at 11:40 am |
      • Austin

        John 14:6 ESV / 77 helpful votes
        Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

        HelpfulNot Helpful
        John 8:32 ESV / 31 helpful votes
        And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

        HelpfulNot Helpful
        John 17:17 ESV / 16 helpful votes
        Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

        HelpfulNot Helpful
        Numbers 23:19 ESV / 13 helpful votes
        God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

        HelpfulNot Helpful
        John 6:50-71 ESV / 10 helpful votes
        This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

        January 2, 2014 at 11:45 am |
        • JWT

          None of those words written by people changes what I said.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:57 am |
        • Reality # 2

          John's Gospel is of questionable historic value so why do people continue to "thu-mp" it??

          To wit:

          From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

          "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

          From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

          "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

          "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

          And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

          "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

          See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/john.html

          January 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
    • Jesus' Beloved

      Shalom to you this New Year Austin.
      I saw your post regarding your vision in hospital. Can you relay it in the comment on this word-press site. I will go there to read it. Thanks.
      secretplacesofelelyon

      January 2, 2014 at 11:45 am |
      • Austin

        secretplacesofelelyon
        sure,
        hey, no comment needed but if you read the responses to that post it is heart breaking. wow. i wil go to the site now.

        January 2, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • Austin

          nothing came up, can i get the full url.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • @ Jesus Beloved

          i can get to that request in about an hour. nothing came up with that name for the site.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          http://secretplacesofelelyon.wordpress.com/

          January 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • Madtown

      there are two categories of people.
      --–
      There are many more categories than 2.

      January 2, 2014 at 11:46 am |
    • sam stone

      Punishing people for their actions when there is no free will is not justice, Austin, it is the sign of a petty, vindictive pr1ck

      January 2, 2014 at 11:49 am |
      • mzh

        To Sam on “there is no free will”

        The ‘fee will’ here could be defined by what you are saying… like Austin is saying you to believe in what he believes but you are rejecting is along with everyone else if you are for example Atheist.

        This free will is given only to mankind to choose from ‘Oneness of The Almighty (Monotheistic)’ vs Multiple Gods (‘Polytheistic’)…

        if you study the history of messengers were sent to every generation had the same message to ‘believe in oneness of The Almighty and him as a messenger sent from the Almighty God’ like during the time of Noah, it was “there is no God but One God and Noah is messenger of The Almighty God”, similarly during the time of Jesus, it was “there is no God but One God and Jesus is the messenger of The Almighty God”, similarly during the time of Muhammad till the end of mankind, it is “There is no God but One God Almighty and Muhammad is the messenger of The Almighty God” and so on…

        There are two parts in this message… 1. Believe in oneness of The Almighty God and 2. Believe in the messenger

        First part remains same for each and every messenger’s rime but the second part changes as it is a new generation and different messenger… also some of the laws changes from one messenger’s time to the next one as per needed for the people on that time/land they live in…

        Because of this ‘free will’ given to mankind, we see human like to believe whatever pleases them… they say monkey is my God, human is my God, dead person (saints) is my God, an idol made of either mud or steel is my God, some say I do not believe in any God and many more…

        If there was no ‘free will’ given to mankind, you would have seen the entire mankind following one religion which pure monotheistic religion… but then there no need of the Day of Judgment for accountability… this is the first thing that human will be asked and I hope everyone will have their answers… and also there will not be any counselor talking on behalf of anyone… as everyone will be worried about him/herself…

        I hope this will clear little about the ‘free will’…

        Peace!!!

        January 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Assuming mzh and his Muslim sisters and brothers have any access to free will in their "leave and be stoned" religion, a quick, safe and easy cure:

          From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

          The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

          ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

          Are you ready?

          Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

          The First Five of the 77 Branches:

          "1. Belief in Allah"

          aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

          "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

          Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

          "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

          A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

          "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

          Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

          Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

          Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

          "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
          be upon him) alone."

          Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

          Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

          Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

          Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

          January 2, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • sam stone

          thank you.

          it did clear up little about free will

          i am approaching this from a logical viewpoint (i do not care a bit about the history of messengers)

          if god knows what i am going to do before i do it, and god cannot be wrong, there is no free will

          for an example...if i apparently have two choices (A or B) and god KNOWS that i am going to choose B, and god cannot be wrong, what are the chances I am going to choose A (thereby proving god wrong)?

          January 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
      • sam stone

        well, mzh? if god knows what i am going to do before i do it, how does free will exist?

        January 2, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
        • sam stone

          come on, mzh, do you have an answer

          January 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • mzh

          To Sam:

          You are welcome Sam…

          I am thankful and glad to know that it got cleared a little bit… please keep trying and one day you will discover something and I pray to The Almighty to open your heart so that you will see the truth…

          In response to ‘logical viewpoint’, in my opinion, logical viewpoint will not help but you have to use your brain and thinking ability to understand it…

          As per the teaching of the Quran – The Almighty God knows everything what would happen to the next moment and even He know about the thought before comes to our head, and He lets you choose your move even the move is wrong… otherwise no need of any accountability… and this is the free will that a human is using for the wrong move… and the first and foremost wrong move for the mankind is to associate partner (s) with The Almighty who does not need any partner (s) to be sitting on His right side or left to run the entire universe… (some of this story is mentioned in the second chapter of the quran if you would like to know).

          Let me give you another example… as per the Quran the angels has not ability to disobey the commands of The Almighty and this is how they have been created but they have the ability to think… how?

          Quran gives picture of the conversation took place between The Almighty and Angels prior to the creation of Adam… The Almighty says to the angels that He will create human, and in reply angels says that you have created us and we are always in the state of submission and why would You create something which will spread the mischief on the face of earth and then the Almighty replies to them I know what you do not know… that means the angels do not have free will to disobey the commands but they have the ability to think…

          And when it comes to the human being… human being is created with the privilege of both Free Will to obey or disobey the commands of The Almighty and the thinking ability… which is why we see the human being does inhuman thing regardless of background of faith…

          I hope it is little more clear now… we can discuss more…

          Peace be upon you Sam…

          January 2, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
        • sam stone

          mzh: apparently, you are not familiar with the concept of sarcasm. your explanation has done NOTHING to clear up the issue of "free will"

          i will ask you again. if god knows what i am going to do before i do it, and god cannot be wrong, how does the concept of free will apply?

          don't quote the bible, don't quote the quran. they mean nothing to me

          use your brain.
          don't use your heart to answer the question
          when people ask others to use their heart to answer a question
          all they are doing is asking the person to suspend logic

          January 2, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
        • mzh

          To Sam,

          Thanks for your reply… I do not think that I will be able to give you anything which would make you understand unless you really want to understand by being honest with yourself… its one can not wake a person up who is pretending to sleep as we all did with our parents or anyone else when we were young…

          But anyway, the only thing I could do is to hope that one day your heart will open… that’s all…

          January 2, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
        • mzh

          Let me give you an example… human like the one who look for logic to understand among the mankind have always been there since the creation of human… I meant they disbelieved in their creator and the messenger was sent to… lets try to use one example of Moses (pbuh)… with the permission of The Almighty, he showed 8 miracles to the children of I s r a e l and they believed in him (Moses’s message) and what did they do after they crossed the river? They made a cow with gold and started worshipping it… they have just came out of the tyrant by believing in Moses and his message but right after that they rejected… there are lots of example like that could be brought…

          January 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
        • mzh

          I could not put the last part as it keeps being filtered...

          Thanks for the lesson…

          Peace be upon you my friend…

          January 2, 2014 at 11:49 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Some examples of Islam's version of free will:

          As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

          The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

          ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

          and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

          and more recently

          1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

          1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

          2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

          3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. Iraqi civilians killed as of 05/10/2013/, 113,249-123,978 mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

          4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

          5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

          6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

          7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

          8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

          9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

          10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

          11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

          12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

          13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

          14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

          15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

          16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

          17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

          18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

          19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

          20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

          21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

          22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

          23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "

          o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
          o
          BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.
          The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."

          25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT

          (Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

          26 ) September 12, 2012
          U.S. AMBASSADOR KILLED
          Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast

          27) Boston Marathon horror – April 2013, four dead, hundreds injured and maimed for life. A

          January 3, 2014 at 12:15 am |
        • mzh

          Laka assalam Reality (may the peace and blessings be upon you R)...

          January 3, 2014 at 1:56 am |
        • sam stone

          i am honest with myself, mzh. sorry that logic does not work for you. peace be to you.

          January 3, 2014 at 7:22 am |
        • mzh

          hey Sam, no worries my friend... it is nice of you to be honest and i appreciate that...

          Peace!!!

          January 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      we don't give a s-h-i-t about your explanation, austin.

      you are a deluded clown who is only convincing to other delusional people

      hope this clears things up

      January 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
  4. Austin

    Isaiah 40:31 ►

    but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

    January 2, 2014 at 11:33 am |
    • sam stone

      yet you faint when presented with a challenge, austin

      is your faith not strong enough to take on the james randi challenge?

      or (much more likely), are you just a coward who knows he is talking nonsense and is afraid to have it publicly revealed?

      come on, boy, tell us of your faith

      January 2, 2014 at 11:56 am |
      • Austin

        I wil not take the James Randi challenge, becuase he is talking about paranormal stuff, and The Lord will prepare James Randi's heart if that is His will.

        The Lord will not become a grandstand specticle unless He sends an angel who tells me what to do, this road for money for a mockery is unacceptale.

        Israel was not supposed to go down to Egypt for help.

        January 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • midwest rail

          This is in direct contradiction to your statements of only a few days ago. Typical.

          January 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • sam stone

          no. you cower from the challenge because your don't want your supposed prophetic visions subjected to independent critical scientific review.

          January 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • Keith

      Austin, you are going to die and end up with the rest of us.

      January 3, 2014 at 11:36 am |
  5. dom of delaware

    LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

    your precious christian thoughts

    plus, one would expect if gods really was, we would c proof that they had done somethin measurable, somethin we could c the effects of or some indication or hint that they was around. we got nothin but some old rocks and hot gas

    January 2, 2014 at 10:05 am |
  6. Reality # 2

    Once again: Only for the new members of this blog:

    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today

    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    January 2, 2014 at 8:07 am |
    • james

      Over a quarter of a million people each year are being Baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses and not one by being born as one but by studying the truth of God;s Word. Go to jw.org to see how and why these people have come to true worship or have a serious and sincere discussion with one of these people when they come to offer you a free home Bible study and learn what the Bible Really Teaches, thanks, j

      January 2, 2014 at 9:54 am |
      • midwest rail

        Do you keep statistics on how many leave every year ? Is there an independent source for your claim ?

        January 2, 2014 at 10:06 am |
        • james

          yes there are some that leave but the statistics of growth are listed by country in the yearbook every year and if you go to the web site you can ask your Bible questions and anything else if you are serious. I encourage you to look into this organization and see that there are no "secrets" as some would have you believe but all things are open to any that want to learn how to serve our Creator properly, thanks, j

          January 2, 2014 at 10:33 am |
        • midwest rail

          That was not what I asked – is there an INDEPENDENT source to verify your claim, not one that is clearly affiliated with your organization ?

          January 2, 2014 at 10:40 am |
        • james

          I believe you can research those questions and not just take my word but the facts are out there and the records of baptisms are public since most are done at Assemblys and Conventions each year to which the public is invited. The increase has been mentioned on news programs recently that we would have no control over. Check it out, thanks, j

          January 2, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • james

          Midwest; also if you look into how many places of worship are being built around the world it will show the great increase and this also is public information.

          January 2, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • james

          I have to go for a while but will check back and if you are sincere go to the web site and you can have someone come to visit you at your convenience anywhere in this world. they will be glad to answer your serious requests, thanks again, j

          January 2, 2014 at 10:59 am |
        • midwest rail

          If I am sincere ? Inquiry about specious claims does not indicate a willingness to join.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • james

          sorry but you can not just join and they are not specious claims I just thought you wanted more information than i had time to share right now. sorry I misunderstood you. j

          January 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • midwest rail

          "...they are not specious claims..."
          Then provide a link to an independent source that backs up your claim. Otherwise, it IS specious.

          January 3, 2014 at 7:19 am |
        • james

          the definition of specious does not apply to my claim and if you want other backup it is up to you since I was just sharing info that i have found and was just trying to encourage you to look into what I believe. Is this not what this forum is about?

          January 3, 2014 at 11:04 am |
      • Madtown

        not one by being born as one but by studying the truth of God;s Word
        ------
        Well, the bible was not written by God. For most of the books, we know the names of the authors. They are decidedly human.

        January 2, 2014 at 10:30 am |
        • james

          Those humans give credit to God for inspiring them to write what they did.

          January 2, 2014 at 10:37 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          james, if tomorrow, at work, I give credit to you for how I perform, does that mean you had anything to do with my performance? Does it have any bearing on your existence?

          January 2, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • Madtown

          Those humans give credit to God for inspiring them
          ----–
          Of course they do. Is there a single objective reason to believe them? Why didn't God similarly inspire other humans in other cultures to write the same message, if he wanted us all to follow it? That way, all of humanity would have it.

          January 2, 2014 at 10:54 am |
        • james

          M; all humanity does have it. All you have to do is read and study it and if you would like help just ask at the web site jw.org if you are serious and at no charge.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:02 am |
        • Madtown

          M; all humanity does have it.
          ----
          Wow, for real James? You're denying that at this very moment, there are many humans throughout the world that don't know the first thing about christianity, Jesus, and the bible? You're denying this? "All of humanity" most certainly DOES NOT have it. Why? God placed many people in areas of the world where there are no bibles, and no versions of christianity are practiced.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:06 am |
        • james

          sorry but God's Word is being taught in all the earth and even in countries where we are banned.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:13 am |
        • james

          I really have to go but you know that God did not place those people all over but they moved there of their own free will. He placed two in the Garden. They left Him to go over all the earth and now He is reaching out to them with a message of hope.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:27 am |
        • Madtown

          sorry but God's Word is being taught in all the earth
          -----
          Is it being taught in a society that lives in the Amazon rain forest jungle, as an example? No, it's not.

          January 2, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • Madtown

          God did not place those people all over but they moved there of their own free will
          -----
          Really? Everyone in a primitive society in the Ecuadorian jungle moved there from somewhere else? No one is born and raised in those communities? How do you breathe with your head so completely buried in the sand?

          January 2, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • james

          you need to get out more, there are over 77,000 JWs in Ecuador serving in 925 congregations conducting 134,494 Bible studies as of last year and even in the remotest parts of that country.

          January 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • Madtown

          you need to get out more
          ---
          Look who's talking. You need to get out of church more, and realize there's an entire world out there that doesn't think the same way you do. Ecuador is an EXAMPLE. Do you know what the word example means? There are many rainforest tribes inhabiting the Amazon jungle of South America. Some in Ecuador. They aren't christians or jw's, but they are humans who are equal to you. Except they likely have a higher IQ.

          January 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • james

          now I know you do not know me since I do not go to church and those tribes are being reached by many missionaries of many religions. Actually 2 countries, Somalia and Afghanistan are the only lands that we are not in at this time but the "good news" is being preached in all the earth" Matt.24:14, Mark 13:10, etc.

          January 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

        Religion………………………… Adherents

        Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

        Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

        Irreligious/agnostic/atheism…… 1.1 billion

        Hinduism 900 million
        Chinese traditional religion 394 million
        Buddhism 376 million
        Animist religions 300 million
        African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
        Sikhism 23 million
        Juche 19 million
        Spiritism 15 million

        Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

        Jehovah Witnesses 6.5-12 million ( http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/rel_jeh_wit-religion-jehovahs-witnesses
        depending on how you count

        Baha'i 7 million
        Jainism 4.2 million
        Shinto 4 million
        Cao Dai 4 million
        Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
        Tenrikyo 2 million
        Neo-Paganism 1 million
        Unitarian Universalism 800,000
        Rastafari Movement 600,000

        January 2, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          james,

          Scroll up the page and read my updated Apostles Creed.

          January 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Eliminating the need for any bible study in less than 10 seconds:

        The Apostles' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

        Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
        and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
        human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

        I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
        preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
        named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
        girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

        Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
        the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

        He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
        a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
        Jerusalem.

        Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
        many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
        and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
        Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
        grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
        and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
        called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

        Amen
        (references used are available upon request)

        January 2, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • james

          I think you need a Bible Study to get your facts right.

          January 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Added details for study (as requested):

          o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

          2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
          – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

          30-60 CE Passion Narrative
          40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
          50-60 1 Thessalonians
          50-60 Philippians
          50-60 Galatians
          50-60 1 Corinthians
          50-60 2 Corinthians
          50-60 Romans
          50-60 Philemon
          50-80 Colossians
          50-90 Signs Gospel
          50-95 Book of Hebrews
          50-120 Didache
          50-140 Gospel of Thomas
          50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
          50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
          65-80 Gospel of Mark
          70-100 Epistle of James
          70-120 Egerton Gospel
          70-160 Gospel of Peter
          70-160 Secret Mark
          70-200 Fayyum Fragment
          70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
          73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
          80-100 2 Thessalonians
          80-100 Ephesians
          80-100 Gospel of Matthew
          80-110 1 Peter
          80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
          80-130 Gospel of Luke
          80-130 Acts of the Apostles
          80-140 1 Clement
          80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
          80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
          80-250 Christian Sibyllines
          90-95 Apocalypse of John
          90-120 Gospel of John
          90-120 1 John
          90-120 2 John
          90-120 3 John
          90-120 Epistle of Jude
          93 Flavius Josephus
          100-150 1 Timothy
          100-150 2 Timothy
          100-150 T-itus
          100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
          100-150 Secret Book of James
          100-150 Preaching of Peter
          100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
          100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
          100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
          100-160 2 Peter

           4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
          5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
          6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
          7. http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT
          8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
          9.The Gn-ostic Jesus
          (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)
          by Douglas Gro-othuis: http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/g-nosticism-and-the-g-nostic-jesus/
          10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
          Presented on March 18, 1994
          ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2
          11. The Jesus Database- newer site:
          wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database
          12. Jesus Database with the example of S-u-pper and Eucharist:
          faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/jdb016.html
          13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
          mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
          13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies
          14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
          15. D-iseases in the Bible:
          http://books.google.com/books/about/The_d-iseases_of_the_Bible.html?id=C1YZAAAAYAAJ

          16. Religion on- Line (6000 a-rt-ic-les on the hi-story of religion, churches, theologies,
          theologians, eth-ics, etc. religion-online.o–rg/
          17. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT n-tgate-way.com/
          18 Writing the New Testament- e-xi-sting copies, o–r–al tradition etc.
          n-tgat-eway.com/
          19. JD Crossan's c-onclusions about the a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:
          http://wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.p-hp?t-itle=Crossan_Inventory
          20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
          21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?
          in-fidels.o-rg/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
          22. NT and beyond time line:
          pbs.o-rg/empires/pe-terandpaul/history/timeline/
          23. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
          harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
          24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
          25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
          27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
          28. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
          29. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

          January 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • james

          I am sorry I even responded to you since you resort to the same thing always so let me know when you have read these publications and are not just parroting them with every post. I would like to know what you really believe so we can share some thoughts and not just lists, thanks, j

          January 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          What I believe? How many times do I have to republish MY updated Apostles' Creed? Scroll up to find a copy.

          January 3, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
  7. bootyfunk

    I believe in gods and gods and abrahaimic idols and weed patch! Athies have convinced me indeed!

    If u don't like one theory, try another! Anything goes as long ad it ain't Jesus.

    January 2, 2014 at 7:41 am |
  8. bootyfunk

    I love palintwit and donkey puncher

    January 2, 2014 at 7:39 am |
  9. bootyfunk

    I am a poor Jew and I love the pope and DM murdock

    January 2, 2014 at 7:38 am |
  10. bootyfunk

    I love Horus and 72,000 other gods I just created.

    January 2, 2014 at 7:37 am |
  11. CNN Belief Blog Poll 1/1/2014

    Do preachy Atheists annoy you?

    Yes and majority of them are preachy. 44 (51.2%)

    Yes, but most aren't preachy. 17 (19.8%)

    No. 25 (29.1%)

    Total Commenters Voted: 86

    Thanks for participating

    January 1, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Poll 1/1/2014

      Correction: Do peachy Atheists annoy you?

      January 1, 2014 at 10:32 pm |
    • CNN Belief Blog Poll 1/1/2014

      i don't have anything relevant to say, so i make crap up

      January 2, 2014 at 11:30 am |
    • CNN Belief Blog Poll 1/1/2014

      i don't have anything relevant to say, so i make stuff up

      January 2, 2014 at 11:30 am |
  12. 00 00

    and circle around the earth. and talking snakes, Sam Bo! imagine!

    jesus, sorry. u can't exist. no proof. none.

    plus, u endorse love. u had the nerve to command ur disciples to forgive their enemies.

    January 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm |
  13. 00 00

    thanks austin. good luck snake.

    great job illegal boneless chicken cloners. 1.5 billion more in criminal charges

    January 1, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
  14. 00 00

    and circle around the earth. and talking snakes, Sam Bo! imagine!

    January 1, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
  15. 00 00

    i am converting. 4 corners of the earth is proof. thanks athies

    and circle around the earth. and talking snakes, Sam Bo! imagine!

    January 1, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
  16. 00 00

    i am converting. 4 corners of the earth is proof. thanks athies

    January 1, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
  17. 00 00

    thanks austin. thanks each faux xtian poster. u fooled everybody-tossing out cream puffs 4 athies to hit out of the park.

    snake goes to hel for, among other things, thretening sara p and her child

    danny, awesome job. 3 billion and criminal charges

    January 1, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
  18. 00 00

    thanks austin. thanks each faux xtian poster. u fooled everybody-tossing out cream puffs 4 athies to hit out of the park.

    snake goes to hel for, among other things, thretening sara p and her child

    January 1, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      How's that big lawsuit coming, Faith?

      Or, haven't you been able to find an attorney who will take your phil-ay-shee-oh as a retainer?

      January 2, 2014 at 5:26 am |
  19. Reality # 2

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today

    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    January 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
  20. Cpt. Obvious

    Ah. So my posts are awaiting moderation, but lol??'s at the bottom is just fine. CNN doesn't give a ripe fvck about these blogs. Azzholes.

    January 1, 2014 at 10:48 am |
    • midwest rail

      I believe lol?? is granted an exemption under the "therapy for the clinically insane" clause.

      January 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
    • Jerry

      I'm sure you realize that lol?? is one of the people hitting that button.

      January 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
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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.