Heathenism's battle with white supremacists
Odin or Wotan, the chief god in Norse mythology. White supremacists have appropriate some Heathen images and gods.
April 16th, 2014
02:54 PM ET

Heathenism's battle with white supremacists

Opinion by Joshua Rood, special to CNN

(CNN) - The word “heathen” is a very old one that once meant “heath dweller” or a person who lives out in the wild.

Eventually, when Christianity came into Northern Europe, it came to mean “one who still worships the old gods.” It still means that in some parts of the world, like Iceland, where it also goes by the name Ásatrú (“belief in the Aesir”).

Aesir is just a very old word for the traditional gods of Scandinavia. You’ve probably heard of some of these gods: Odin, Thor, Freyr and Freyja.

What you might not know is that many traditions, stories and celebrations have never gone away.

These can be as simple as the Scandinavian belief in vaettir (nature spirits) or as complex as the poems and songs about the Aesi that were written and are still sung and performed in Iceland.

Most of the stories were preserved in Icelandic poems and sagas, written in the 13th and 14th centuries. Others have been preserved in regional folk stories and folk customs.

Today, Ásatrú, which can go by many names, is the largest non-Christian religion in Iceland and is officially recognized in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Thanks to multiculturalism, it exists in many countries around the world, including the United States, Canada and most European countries.

There are many organizations, private groups and individuals who adhere to Ásatrú. Although terminology, festivals and customs can vary depending on local lore and tradition, at its heart, Ásatrú is a celebration of the gods, stories and customs that have been passed down from Northern Europe into the modern world.

Unfortunately, there are people in this world who try to use these beautiful stories and traditions for selfish and hateful reasons.

All religions have been used by people to justify what they know is wrong. All myths are subject to bastardization. We’ve seen this throughout history.

Ásatrú is no more immune to it than any other religion. Myths and symbols can’t defend themselves. In the case of Ásatrú and the gods and symbols of Northern Europe, they have been latched onto and used by individuals and movements trying to push racialist, nationalist and violent agendas.

It must be understood that these movements didn‘t evolve out of Ásatrú. They evolved out of racial or white power movements that latched onto Ásatrú, because a religion that came from Northern Europe is a more useful tool to a “white nationalist” than one that originated elsewhere.

The accused Kansas killer's neo-pagan religion

But that is not what Ásatrú is, and the religious communities whose beliefs and symbols are being hijacked are trying to make their voices be heard by society.

It must be known that Ásatrú has nothing to do with being some sort of separatist "warrior."

It's not the religion of the Vikings any more than Christianity is the religion of the Crusaders. It´s not the religion of white nationalists any more than Christianity is the religion of the KKK.

Ásatrú is the history of all of Northern Europe. Farmers, traders, fishermen, you name it.

The Vikings are sensationalized and romanticized by pop culture, as well as agenda driving individuals and movements. We may agree that Christ would never have condoned the Crusades or the KKK. Likewise, the Ásatrú god Freyr is a god of peace and prosperity who would never condone killing.

The Ásatrú fellowship of Iceland is the largest and oldest Ásatrú organization and is open to anybody and everybody who lives in Iceland. If you were to ask a random person on the streets of Reykjavík what Ásatrú is, regardless of their religion, they will probably tell you some variation of “It’s the traditional religion of Iceland."

They would not think of a connection with racism or violence, because the connection does not exist. Likewise in the United States, where it is admittedly difficult to represent Heathenism due to federal laws regarding religious organizations, Heathen communities are very multicultural, made up of people with a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

There are groups and individuals who are trying to use Heathen symbols to promote hateful agendas, and they are active, publishing material and trying to recruit.

It means they go to events, they try to contact the general Ásatrú communities, and they try to pass their agendas off as being a part of Ásatrú.

This leaves us with the challenge of showing the general public that while there are people bastardizing our symbols, there are more of us openly opposed to it. The media and general public can assist with that.

It is my hope that this article can help with the process of making this distinction be publicly known and acknowledged.

If we can achieve this, then it helps society as a whole to counteract the white power and other extremist movements, because it will become more clear to them that they are not welcome anywhere in society, including the Ásatrú religion.

Joshua Rood is studying for a master’s of arts degree in Old Norse religion at the University of Iceland. He is a member of Ásatrúarfélagið (the Asatru fellowship) of Iceland and founder of Heathen journal http://www.odroerirjournal.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rood. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Discrimination • Heathenism • Neo-Nazi • Neopaganism • Opinion • Paganism • Prejudice • Religious violence

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. midmomood

    Asatru aka Norse paganism, according to Wikipedia: "Norse society was divided into several classes and the early Norse practiced slavery in earnest." To paraphrase, the meaning of the word heathen according to Webster's Ninth Collegiate is one who doesn't recognize the God of the Bible. No thanks.

    April 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
    • otoh2

      The "God" character of The Bible is a monster. The Bible does not say a peep against slavery, in fact it even gives some handy how-to-do-it hints about it. It has taken civil laws to put slavery down (not finished yet, either).

      "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

      April 24, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
  2. lonenors3man

    Should say doesn't go into the bulk of it. I typed it on my phone, so forgive a few errors

    April 18, 2014 at 11:16 am |
  3. idiotusmaximus

    The word “heathen” is a very old one that once meant “heath dweller” or a person who lives out in the wild.......

    Like the word Barbarian is from the Greek and all it means is PEOPLE THAT DON'T SPEAK GREEK.....so many words in the world get screwed into something far from their original meaning.

    April 18, 2014 at 11:02 am |
  4. lonenors3man

    I know it is foolish to post this, but I'll do it anyway.

    First off Josh Rood, love his contributions to othroerir. Wish they would come out with more releases.

    Second, WTH atheist? I came to this expecting crap from the racist and bible thumpers, but you guys are the ones being not cool. Unlike most beliefs, we don't proselytize. You won't see the bulk of us on an well thought out atheist page telling you why you think you are wrong. marching in and just start throwing comments like a monkey throws crap is pretty childish. We aren't asking for people to agree, just understand. Our beliefs are not for everyone, and unfortunately this article(due to limited space) go into the bulk of heathenry. Most of heathenry revolves around family and community, with often (for some) the gods only getting their bit 2 or 3 times a year. More important to daily life is helping your community (both heathen and otherwise) to grow and make strong community bonds. Look into it if you don't believe me, most events (or rites, symbel, fainings or whatever you want to call them) are about having an enjoyable time and building social connections/bonds. Many heathens are super big supporters of volunteer work. This is not because they feel they have to do so religiously, but because they want to help their community.

    the way this comment section is going is terrible, is this what early 21st century atheism well be known as? It's as terrible as 19th century Christianity. Coming and start calling people names because you disagree with them, that's NOT logic. That's being immature and afraid you can't win an argument, even with a large amount of evidence to back your views. Instead you paint yourselves as bullies and jerks. If this is the limit of my generations philosophical thoughts, I don't think we are going to have any good free thinking come anytime soon.

    Thanks again Josh

    April 18, 2014 at 10:45 am |
    • lonenors3man

      Should say doesn't go into the bulk of it. I typed it on my phone, so forgive a few errors

      April 18, 2014 at 10:46 am |
    • idiotusmaximus

      Actually I find the so called heathens MORE TRUSTWORTHY that the religious.

      April 18, 2014 at 11:04 am |
    • gulliblenomore

      lonenors.....as atheists, we don't believe in any god (actually, we tend not to believe anything that can't be proven). Your god, kermits god, Thor, Zeus, etc, are all nonsense. I also don't believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, or leprechauns....or ghosts or demons for that matter. You certainly have the right to believe whatever silliness you wish, but that does not entail that we have to be respectful of that decision. You can smoke if you want also, but chances are, if you were on a blog about smoking, I would tell you how idiotic that was as well, but I certainly wouldn't prevent you from smoking. And, for your edification, the atheists on this site are very respectful for the most part....but there are a few Christian morons on here that need to be taken down a peg. Perhaps this is what you are seeing.

      April 18, 2014 at 11:05 am |
      • lonenors3man

        Look through the comments section again. While intertwined with a few good arguments, most of the "atheist" positions boil down to nothing more than semi coherent "you're an idiot" statements. You yourself have done it. Calling someone an azzhole while trying to refute him proves only you inability to measure yourself equal to anyone. Trying to knock someone down a peg or two over the internet, really? You are as bad as he is.

        You seem to hold only your opinions and those that agree with you to be intelligent. Anyone else is a beholden fool blind to the obvious. You think us heathens backward and wrong. Forgo any spiritual whatever, i would be bet you incapable of not being a that "guy". Call our things silliness if you want, your choice. Also your right, doesn't make You any less of a jerk.

        You used an analogy about smoking (which is scientifically proven to be bad whereas belief in something spiritual has not) and commenting on a blog about it. If you were only there to comment about how smoking is bad for you, and told everyone you had moved on and how much better you are then them then you would be a smug jerk.

        So modern atheism is 19 th century Christianity. Seriously look at the similarities: if you dont believe the same as us we'll invade places you'll be and preach the truth you just dont understand. We will make sure you know you are wrong and just how wrong you are. Because we are right, and we have unrefuted evidence about how everything in the world works.

        maybe move beyond being pretentious, and realize no human has even a dust speck worth of the knowledge of the universe.

        April 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          lonenors....nice speech, but strictly BS. We are not saying that we are right....I have never said that. What I said was, I could be wrong, but logic and reason dictate that I am not. I am definitively say that they are wrong, because they are. Anybody....and I mean anybody, including a Harvard graduate, that believes in any god without proof (and there is absolutely no evidential proof of ANY god in existence, for if there were, then everybody would believe) is an idiot. And, that is not me being a smug jerk, that is me pointing out the obvious, for which it should not be necessary.

          As for me calling Kermit an azzhole, I think I could actually prove that to be the case in a court of law...Salero too for that matter. I enjoy a good debate as much as anybody else, but I can't tolerate anybody that states unequivocally that they are right about their god with absolutely no proof of it. And to then chastise those of us that require the evidence, they have no patience whatsoever.

          I am very open-minded, and are willing to listen to anybody. But...it can't be mindless drivel...it must be factual and reasonable. So....please take your high horse elsewhere, as this site will be filled with many people stating their positions and questioning the questionable. Any idiot would know that asking questions is the basis for learning, and I have yet to see one single person of any faith here willing to ask questions about their belief. They defend it blindly, and that is probably the saddest and most pathetic thing of all.

          April 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • lonenors3man

          For some reason i can't post directly to gullible's post, so here it is.

          You're wrong, don't have a high horse. I walk most places. I'm only intending to knock you off yours. Look back at d some of your post and really reflect if that doesn't scream fantisim.

          I question my beliefs often, but my beliefs are a large encompassing worldview that goes beyond the divine and spiritual. I'm calling it as I see it. You are being a jerk abd using blatant insults.

          How can any proper discussion be done if already you think people are morons and idiot by simple association of non hateful groups? Simple answer, it can't.

          April 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          lonenors.....sorry...I have to call them as I see them. And, I'm sorry again, but believing in anything with absolutely no proof is insane. The really odd thing is....If I were to claim I was the second coming of Jesus and was gods other son, nobody would believe me. They would demand proof. That is idiotic and needs to be called out. I really don't care that you think I am being a jerk for saying insults, but that seems a bit hypocritical of you, as you just called me a jerk. Odd, but not unexpected.

          April 18, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
        • lonenors3man

          Also, even within advanced physics things see theorized to exist that have no evidence. To dismiss unequivocaly someone who has no evidence of certain beliefs existing as false is lacking. The higgs boson was theorized for decades and just now using highly advanced technology, the slightest of proof has emerged.

          April 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          lonenors....Sorry...but just because we don't know exactly how we came into existence is hardly a reason to contend that an invisible sky wizard waved a magic wand and created everything. When asked about my existence, I just tell people that I really don't know, but that I am pretty sure, but not positive, that no creator was involved in it. However, I am very open minded. You got proof that god exists and that a creator did all this, bring it on and I will gladly convert. Otherwise, I will stick with logic and reason and will wait for science to become even more advanced.

          April 18, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
      • williamahood

        A.) Heathenry does not require the literal belief in supernatural beings. There are atheist Heathens.

        B.) Your smoking analogy falls apart when you consider that smoking is scientifically proven to be harmful. Some religions may have evidence to their social harm, but not all do. Heathenry does not do social harm as it does not deny science, it does not legislate baseless beliefs, and Heathens do not expect others to agree with their beliefs or be harrassed. Your attacking Heathenry as if it shares these dynamics with Christianity simply because both are religions, in addition to Heathens being a religious minority who are harmed by Christian hegemony just as much as atheists, does certainly make your attacks pretty jerkish as well as coming from a place of ignorance. You are ignorant of Heathenry and just take the literal supernatural beliefs of *some* Heathens as reason to assume it is the same *sort* of religion as Christianity or Islam. Not very scientific of you.

        C.) You assume Heathens are creationists in one of your posts. We are not. We don't believe a magic sky wizard waved a wand and created everything either. Perhaps you should learn what a religion *actually* promotes instead of just throwing your standard anti-Christian template at all religions.


        April 19, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          William....first of all, I was responding to lonerons comment about the att-itude of the atheists responses on this blog, not to heathenry at all. I know virtually nothing about heathenry, and his comment was generic and had nothing at all to do with heathenry. I only know that the belief in ANY god or gods (and I do believe from what I read that there is some element of belief in gods or goddesses, nature, and spirituality) is a little strange, considering there is really no proof whatsoever of any type of afterlife or even that any spirituality even exists.

          I'm sorry if you are offended, although I have no idea why since I didn't attack either your religion or you personally. I can't help but feel people on this site are just a little bit sensitive about their belief system. I have always said, I could care less what you believe....pray to your toaster if you want. As long as you don't bother me, have at it. My point was, and will be, that no evidential proof is meaningless to me when it comes to any religion.

          April 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  5. sayjoismme

    Reblogged this on sayjoisme.

    April 18, 2014 at 8:39 am |
  6. vomitfist

    White supremacists have been involved in pagan religions/faiths etc for a real long time. They dont all use it as a tool, they use it as an escape just like christians. There are people in every group that try to exploit religions for their political agendas, christians, jews and muslims ALL do it. The media and groups like the ADL and SPLC will continue to label anyone involved in pre-christian faiths as a white supremacist and its completely ignorant.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
    • vomitfist

      Also, if you believe that the old gods really exist, you are just as much of a moron as christians, muslims, jews etc..

      April 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
      • Reality

        Great summary !!!

        April 17, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
  7. twayneheeter

    Reblogged this on My Journey Through Miðgarðr and commented:
    Very nice piece here to read. I don't agree with everything he says but it is well phrased.

    April 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
  8. bryonmorrigan

    "It´s not the religion of white nationalists any more than Christianity is the religion of the KKK."

    Actually, Christianity IS the official religion of the KKK. That's why they view themselves as "lighting" crosses, for the purpose of making the cross appear menacing and visible...rather than "destroying" them. I suggest you read "The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America", by Wyn Craig Wade, or any other scholarship on the Klan. They are a 100% Christian organization, and always have been.

    Just because this guy (the murderer) claimed once upon a time to be a "fan" of Odin, doesn't negate the fact that the KKK is Christian, nor does it even mean that this guy isn't Christian. All it means is that CNN "reporters" (like Daniel Burke, whose historically-challenged blog post started this nonsense) apparently don't do a lot of research before committing their "blood libel" accusations against minority religions.

    Seriously though, Burke: For your next trick, are you going to cite "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" in a piece about Judaism?

    April 17, 2014 at 10:25 am |
    • demonicwings

      Wow that must have flown RIGHT over your head. His point behind that was that Christianity does not belong to the KKK. They might adhere to it and they might claim it as their religion, but they use it as a tool and excuse for their hatred. Likewise, some white supremecists use Odinism and Asatru as an excuse for their hatred.

      He knew very well that the KKK was a christian organization, either you misread or fail to take in context clues.

      April 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
  9. thefinisher1

    Logic and reason does not exist in today's atheism. It's a scam to sell themselves and other people. Grow up atheists. Your religion (atheism) is ridiculous.

    April 17, 2014 at 7:00 am |
    • alonsoquixote

      If atheism is a religion "not stamp collecting" is a hobby.

      April 17, 2014 at 7:14 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Ooooo. The infamous atheist excuse card. I'm so convinced! Not LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

        April 17, 2014 at 7:55 am |
        • alonsoquixote

          Atheism is simply the lack of belief in any gods, though I've seen Christians try to claim that atheism is a religion as you do, when they feel that religion is being viewed in a negative light and they, apparently, can't think of any effective response so try desperately to claim that not believing in their god is also a religion.

          Christians using "atheism is a religion" when they feel their religion is being disparaged are essentially using the equivalent of the playground retort "I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say, bounces off me and sticks to you." Though, it may be a clever response at the elementary school level, it's silly coming from an adult as is the "LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL" to let us know how funny you find yourself.

          April 17, 2014 at 8:16 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Finisher...all us atheists took a vote last night and decided, based on your infantile behavior, that you can't ever join our fast growing club, even once you drop the idea of the invisible sky wizard.

          April 17, 2014 at 8:42 am |
      • Keith

        If Atheism was simply non-belief you guys would not be defending it so much, or attacking those who do not believe as you do.

        April 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Keith....you are quite wrong. Atheism does not need to be defended at all. You will seldom, if ever, see any atheists on here defending their non-belief. What we are doing, and what we will continue to do, is point out how mindless it is to believe in any god without one shred of proof. We question the unquestionable, as the religious nuts on here blindly accept whatever is shoveled in front of them as the gospel truth, because it needs to be done. I was raised Catholic, and until I started asking questions, I was just as stupidly blind to any other possibility. I am much smarter now as a result, and no amount of non-evidence will convince me of the existence of any deity. Now....were god to make an appearance during the halftime of the Super Bowl, you would see my butt parked in a pew every Sunday. But, that is not the case. Seems god was mighty chatty back in the old days....constantly talking to his followers (Abraham, Noah, Moses, etc). But, since the days of mass communication....not a peep.

          I contend, that any religious person that asks themselves the hard questions really thought logically about their faith, they would disown it immediately. But they seldom do. They are indoctrinated to not ask questions. That is what we atheists are doing on this site. Presenting the harsh reality of questionable practices to the staunch believers....nothing more.

          April 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • Keith

          I don't believe you either. I am not religious but I wouldn't call myself an atheist either. I find that both of you, religious and atheists, are narrow minded and quite sure of yourselves.

          April 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Keith....that is only because you have no idea what an atheist is. For your edification, an atheist doesn't believe in the existence of any gods. We are not so narrow minded that if any proof were to suddenly appear we would not be persuaded. But....we do require evidential proof, not fantasy stories. I can absolutely admit that I could be wrong, but until I see the proof of the existence of ANY god, I will forever remain an atheist. And....every one of us feels the exact same way. Show us proof, and we will gladly convert. That, my friend, is not narrow minded. The narrow mindedness comes strictly from the believers, because even with no proof at all, they still believe, and no amount of scientific evidence will convince them otherwise. That, is narrow minded.

          April 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
        • Keith

          most of you have no place for the mysteries of life, for that reason I don't call myself an atheist. And the ones I have had discussions about those mysteries with, here on this blog, are very narrow minded about it.

          April 19, 2014 at 12:51 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Keith....we are narrow minded about the mysteries of life because anything that anybody discusses about them are strictly speculative. Without any proof, we are all just guessing. I don't care for guessing much, as I assume no atheist really is. We demand proof, otherwise, it is all speculation. So, please continue to ponder, but until you have proof of anything, don't bother to present it as factual, which every single religion does.

          April 19, 2014 at 9:19 am |
        • Keith

          or right you don't believe in love, compassion, or any of the other conditions of our humanity. And you have all the answers, everything is easily explained and you know all about them.

          Don't bother to present your ideas as anything other than speculative, just because you are arrogant and sure of yourself does not mean you are right.

          April 19, 2014 at 10:53 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Keith....Sure I believe in love, compassion, and other conditions of our humanity. But, of course, they are all absolutely logical with virtually no mystery about them at all. I'm a bit confused as to what you are suggesting. I merely pointed out that there are no great mysteries out there that can't be fully explained. And, if you carefully read everything that I have written, nowhere does it say I am right about everything. I don't even pretend to be right about anything. I'm only right about everything that is verifiable. Where I take issue, and where I will continue to take issue, is with people that present their opinion as factual. Not a single atheist on this site ever does that. We don't ever say we are right. But....we always say that anybody that believes anything without proof is wrong. Maybe you should read more from the atheist side before you denounce them.

          April 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • Keith

          If love isn't a mystery to you, then you have never found it.

          April 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Keith...project much? Actually, I've been happily married for 25 years to a wonderful woman that I love dearly. No mystery at all.....she's awesome and we would do most anything for each other. No mystery at all, and it's a bit arrogant for you to suggest that it has to be a mystery and unexplainable in order for it to be real.

          April 19, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
        • Keith

          I see you are too simple to understand higher concepts. I am very happy that you have been able to find love with such little grasp of romance and mystery. But I still believe that if you believe you understand love you have not found it yet. No one knows why we find someone else desirable, or if we do what makes us stay with them for 25 years like you have. Many do not. No one knows why when we look into the faces of our children we fall in love with them and are willing to sacrifice our very lives for them.

          No one knows why perfectly normal folks can go into war and come back relatively sane and why others come back broken never to return to a normal life. There are millions of explanations but every truth has to do with our individual humanity. If you still do not know what I am talking about, you may never get it in this life time. I am no more arrogant than someone like you, who believes they can understand all of life and that their is no mystery.

          April 19, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Keith....you have officially jumped to being a total azzhole. For your information, just because you are 'so complex' that you can't understand 'the mysteries of life' doesn't mean I am too simple to understand what I understand. I know what I am attracted to, I know that there are people out there that are crazy, I know that some people just don't have the mental capacity to withstand the terrors of war, and things happen. And I do know one other thing....that this conversation is now over, as I won't converse with people that believe they are so superior that they are the only ones that seem to 'get it'. Reply if you want, but I have no intention of reading it as I will be blocking you.

          April 20, 2014 at 10:03 am |
        • Keith

          Good for you, you are now just like the Christians.

          April 20, 2014 at 10:15 am |
        • Keith

          It is pretty arrogant for you to believe that I am too stupid to know what an Atheist is. A trait of many Christians and Atheists.

          April 19, 2014 at 12:52 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Keith....actually, it is not arrogance at all, it has to do with the ability to be able to read. Your suggestion that atheists are narrow minded indicated to me that you don't quite know what an atheist is. We simply not only expect, but demand proof of the existence of a god before we will believe in it. That is hardly narrow minded. Were we to get the proof that we so aptly deserve, we would be among the most ardent followers. Again, not narrow minded, just realistic. There is a difference you know. Just a quick question for you....is there anything at all that you believe just to believe? Is there anything that you believe that you have no proof of that it exists? I believe there could be other life on distant planets, but I certainly wouldn't say for sure that there was since there has been no proof as yet, but nothing else that I can think of.

          April 19, 2014 at 9:29 am |
        • Keith

          Again you have proved my point, I was not defending any belief, nor was I questioning your dis-belief. Your belief about life on other planets is as silly as the Christians belief in God. But if either of you put those ideas in the realm of possibilities, I could let you both slide.

          My observation on this blog is that their is little difference between the Christians and the Atheists in the way they present or defend their ideas.

          April 19, 2014 at 10:58 am |
    • Rynomite

      Yes. It's a scam we sell. You know... on Sundays... when we hold out our collection plates and ask other atheists to give us 10% of their money so that some of our lazier atheists can live for free while preaching the idea of being good in the absence of a god and that the punishment for not doing so is just being not liked by your fellow humans.

      April 17, 2014 at 7:36 am |
    • gulliblenomore

      Finisher....you are an azzhole of the highest order. You don't even know what atheism is. For your edification, it is the lack of belief in ANY god. Now...if you have any evidential proof (and not some musty 2000 year old book), please present it and we will conform. If you don't, them shut the hell up! Talk about needing to grow up....

      April 17, 2014 at 8:38 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Not that I expect anything more than pure crazy from you but once again, what exactly do you think you think you prove by posting such hateful, fallacious, ignorant, child-like rants?

      April 17, 2014 at 9:04 am |
      • gulliblenomore

        TruthP.....I think it's obvious...finisher is trying to prove what an uneducated, ignorant slob he is. I don't know about you, but I'm convinced!

        April 17, 2014 at 9:11 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          gnm: As am I. Although people like this with access to society scare me. Sadly you can't cure stupid and this one is the epitome of the word.

          April 17, 2014 at 9:13 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          TP....I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy, but I have noticed on this site that the believers tend to be quite deficient in their arguments and rarely answer direct questions. They tend to throw around quotes from their bible as if a 2000 year old unfounded quote is going to sway anyone's opinion. I haven't been on here long, but are any of them worth conversing with, or are they all as idiotic as finisher and salero?

          April 17, 2014 at 9:37 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          There are a few that are decent and there are many who wouldn't look at the evidence and only reply with the same old rhetoric as if the more they say it, the more they'll convince someone.
          People like thefinisher, salero, and Kermit, to name a few are the rampant vicious ones who no amount of being polite or trying to reason with them will make a difference. These three in particular tend to show their anger more so than others when defending their god.
          I suggest if you are looking for reasoned conversation, not to steer you away from here because your opinion is welcomed but for your sanity, check out Ryan Bell's blog Year Without God...his story is worth following and the commenters tend to be far more mature that some of whom you see here.

          April 17, 2014 at 9:52 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          TP....thanks for the info....I will check his out. And, I will probably stay here as well, because there are some very intellectual non-believers here, such as yourself, dog, Colin, and a few others, and I've picked up some great arguing points here from them.

          April 17, 2014 at 9:57 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          I admit to getting rude, don't get me wrong but I have an issue when they can't see past the bible and in turn use it as a weapon in this world, especially when it comes to the rights of other people...the threat of hell from them looms over us heavily and the ones using it fail to see how futile that threat really is.

          Enjoy Ryan's blog, as I have stated it is worth following...I don't comment on it but my husband goes by the alias AtheistSteve and on a slightly biased side, his comments are worth the read always.

          April 17, 2014 at 10:04 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          TP....it's quite easy to get rude with some of these people. I have often said that I would have much more respect for them if they would just admit that they really don't know for sure that there is a god, but that they want to believe so badly that they rationalize that belief. But, the absolute arrogance to come on here unabashedly stating that they know for certain makes me crazy. Even I, as an atheist, don't know for sure there is no creator, but there is really no evidence at all to support such a thing, so I can't abide by it.

          April 17, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          The Christians I see here are nothing like the ones I know. I have friends who are pastor's and they are not pushy or rude or disrespectful. I had a Reverends daughter offer to send me a book trying to convince me it might change my views and when I politely declined, she was totally respectful. I tend not to associate with people who are bigoted or use their belief as a weapon.
          Much like you, the arrogance is bothersome. If you read Kermi's posts, the man claims to be a psychologist but yet claims he's heard god speak...he says he has personal evidence neglecting the fact that personal evidence does not count as evidence to anyone but himself and those foolish enough to listen. There was a poster on here awhile ago who claimed to have had prophecies fulfilled and yet when asked for the evidence would turn it around claiming we wouldn't accept it regardless.
          To me, it's simply ludicrous to believe the way they do in this century with a world of information at their fingertips.
          I think most Atheist's follow the Golden Rule more often than the Christians on this blog do.

          April 17, 2014 at 10:22 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          TP....Kermit is a tool, and if he really is a psychologist, then he must be a pretty bad one. The nuts on here have no concept of what evidential proof is, and it galls me that they think they are so special that god would grant them a personal visit but not everybody else. And, I totally agree with you about the Information Age....but, I was an atheist long before the internet.

          April 17, 2014 at 10:33 am |
        • Rynomite

          There's discussion and then there is trolling. Sometimes it's hard not to troll... because well it can be quite fun!

          My personal feeling on the discussion of religion come down to this wonderful quote:

          "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."

          – H. L. Mencken

          April 17, 2014 at 10:24 am |
        • Judica

          Guys, I know kermit from another blog, and he is not only NOT a psychologist, he quit HS. He is exactly the same way nod the other blog also, rude and combative, and very uneducated. That he tries to act as if he's a follower of Christ astounds me, although he tried to do that on the other blog, too.
          His username was Hamsta, and the other blog was This Just In, of you would care to see his other work.
          He is a little bundle of hate. I don't see how he lives the lie.
          You don't have to take my word for it; that's fine. But don't ever take his word for anything, because he is a braggart and very self centered. His stories and lies on TJI were legend.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          @ Judica..you bald faced liar..Im not the other person..do that again Ill take you up for slander..got it? thats no joke

          April 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • Judica

          Kermit as Hamsta also claims to have had a NDE where he sat at a table with God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Lucifer, and the Grim Reaper.
          This person not a psychologist. He's never even been to college. As you can probably tell from his posts.
          Why people try to plump their resumes, I'll never know. The truth always escapes in the end.

          April 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
        • Judica

          Okay. If you say so.

          April 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • Judica

          And I invite you to try to take me up for anything....got it? You're a liar. You're not a psychologist.

          April 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          so believe Imnot a psychologist...I don't carel.you don't need to be slandering me by saying such stupid remarks here ok? you do it I will report you

          April 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
        • igaftr

          You can't charge this person with slander. She said nothing publically about you at all.

          What you mean is libel, which is the printed word. Also, If this person truly believes it, no libel as it is her opinion.

          Seriously, look up the big words before you try to use them.

          April 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
        • Greg Wisner

          Where do you practice at, Kermit?

          April 17, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          where do I work at? as Psychologist? if that's the question..That is too personal to post....you should know better than that

          April 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
        • sam stone

          "Ill take you up for slander..got it?"

          More empty proxy threats from the pseudo pious

          "thats no joke"

          no, you're the joke

          April 18, 2014 at 6:38 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Greg: I have asked kermi what the name of the place he practises at is called, he refused to answer with the exception of pulling the 'slander card'.

          Judica: Kermi is probably seeing a psychologist and not actually one himself. The threat of slander is nothing new for him and for someone apparently so educated, he's quite the dolt and I would tend to agree that he's a liar.

          Kermi: Public blog where people post anonymously..good luck locating any of us. You deserve the mistreatment you get when you come across as an uneducated fool and treat others so horribly. You have forgotten the Golden Rule, if it was even taught to you. If you truly are a psychologist (LOL), I feel sorry for the children you claim to work with.

          April 18, 2014 at 7:25 am |
    • nels1967

      This article isn't about atheism. Please try to stick to the topic.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
  10. northerngrove

    I'm pleased to see this very thoughtful and well written piece following the previous CNN blog which was written by a hack who clearly didn't know Jack about what he was talking about when he slandered Asatru and paganism in general. This post goes a long way in making up for that, although I do thing the prior blog should be taken down or edited. Re-blogged at Northern Grove

    April 17, 2014 at 3:42 am |
  11. northerngrove

    Reblogged this on The Northern Grove and commented:
    This is excellent, well thought out and well written. I probably won't follow the CNN belief blog, but if they continue to feature well spoken representatives of Heathen and Pagan faith, then I may...

    April 17, 2014 at 3:39 am |
  12. EmberVoices

    Reblogged this on EmberVoices and commented:
    This is a very well composed Heathen apologetic in what is hopefully a prominent blog. Excellent! Share around to spread the word? -E-

    April 17, 2014 at 3:03 am |
  13. EmberVoices

    Very well put, thank you.

    Possibly because I am Vanatru, I tend to treat "Heathenism" as the umbrella term, and Asatru as one (okay, several – the way the Gods are honored in Iceland is rather different from how most American Asatruar practice) of several denominations, but that's a distinction non-Heathens aren't going to care much about.

    Especially if they're too busy telling us how wrong we are for not being something else...


    April 17, 2014 at 3:02 am |
  14. realbuckyball

    "Unfortunately, there are people in this world who try to use these beautiful stories and traditions for selfish and hateful reasons."

    -- Kinda just exactly like the Jebus people who do EXACTLY the same thing with their ancient myths.

    April 16, 2014 at 10:47 pm |
  15. tallulah131

    I have no problem with worshiping Thor. That Hemsworth guy is built!

    April 16, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
  16. hotairace

    So where's Odin hanging out these days, or is he as camera shy as all other alleged but never proven gods?

    April 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
    • nels1967

      Lots of people think of religion as a kind of symbolism. It's mostly monotheists (Christians and Muslims) who get caught up in this idea of belief and the notion that religious beings have to be real, three-dimensional creatures.

      April 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
  17. Lee

    Thanks for a thoughtful piece. Every religion gets corrupted when it is co-opted by people motivated by hate instead of by love. Unfortunately, such people are often loud and aggressive. They are the corrupt few who make religions stink in the nostrils of their victims and of others who are subjected to the venom they spew.

    April 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm |
  18. Akira

    Interesting read, Mr. Rood.
    I wish you luck in trying to convince people that any religion other than the one they've chosen isn't rooted firmly in evil.

    April 16, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
  19. Alias

    "It's not the religion of the Vikings any more than Christianity is the religion of the Crusaders. It´s not the religion of white nationalists any more than Christianity is the religion of the KKK."
    Wrong. Just plain wrong.

    April 16, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
    • raginmundbrigir

      Care to elaborate as to why you think this is wrong?

      April 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
  20. Dyslexic doG

    Ásatrú is the same as any other religion. Originated by man using fairy tales to explain what he had not the knowledge/science to explain.

    I don't blame the originators. They didn't know any better. I am aghast that people still believe any religion today though. We know better but a little human trait called cognitive dissonance keeps it going.

    When will we as a species grow up?!

    April 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
    • satanicviews

      Not all outlooks are religious, but are spiritual, which is an advanced way of thinking in my opinion.

      April 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
      • Alias

        How is that an advanced way of thinking?

        April 16, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
      • gulliblenomore

        Logic and reason are the only way to an advanced way of thinking. Remove those and any snake oil salesman can come along and fleece you. Religion and the belief in mythological deity's has stymied logic and reason.

        April 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          how has Christinaity stymied logic and reason?

          April 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Kermi: I'd ask if you can really be that blind but the answer is rather obvious. How very sad that you've been so horribly brainwashed....it really is shameful!

          April 16, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • raginmundbrigir

          What you are forgetting is that logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.

          Is it not possible to be religious and logical at the same time? It works for the Vulcans in Star Trek.

          April 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          ragin....religion is the absence of logic and reason. If you could reason with a religious person, there would be no believers at all. When I read that 40% of the people in this country believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that the story of Noah is real, I know both logic and reason are right out the door when it comes to these idiots. And even more compelling is the fact that there are so many people that believe in an invisible god with absolutely no evidential proof. So, I feel pretty confident in saying that religion and logic do not mix.

          April 16, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
        • satanicviews

          Thus says the scholar who holds knowledge and rationality as the only worthy considerations in life. We in the spiritual apply a little extra to knowledge, which is wisdom; and we apply a little extra to rationality and that is called creativity, and as we all know creativity is totally irrational.

          April 17, 2014 at 4:03 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Satan....while I absolutely agree with you that creativity is irrational, I see no wisdom coming from spiritualists that believe in something unproven. That's fine that you believe. I just have a hard time with people that contend that they believe because they know. They don't know anything for sure....they just want so hard for their beliefs to be true. I see no logic or reason applied there. Irrational creativity, yes, but not logic.

          April 17, 2014 at 8:30 am |
        • kermit4jc

          @ truthprevails...I know how some as Christians have stymied..but to make a stuipid blanket statement is dishonest Yes...Christianityhad some role on the Dark ages of "dumbing down things" but Christinaity ALSO had a role in bringing soceity OUT of Dark Ages..to make a blanket statement that it stymies is totally dishonest and lacking in actual facts of history

          April 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Please define "spiritual" and then provide a coherent argrument as to how it is an "advanced way of thinking".

        April 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • G to the T

          Please define "spiritual"

          That's the kicker in my mind. "Spiritual" seems to have become a catchphrase for those who don't want to associated with a "religion". Other than that symantic distinction however, I've yet to hear a good defition for "spiritual".

          April 17, 2014 at 7:24 am |
        • mikethebard

          "The personal search for deeper meaning and/or purpose in life".

          The pursuit of this deeper meaning generally includes an honest and intensive examination of the self, the natural world, and your fellow man, a recognition of universal ideas and values, and a desire to work towards the betterment of the self and/or others.

          And yes, in this context, atheism can in fact be spiritual. So can religion, although it can also fail to be.

          April 17, 2014 at 8:18 am |
        • gulliblenomore

          Personal search is fine....but I do have a problem with those that find it with no viable proof.

          April 17, 2014 at 8:31 am |
    • zanadude

      Given both your post and your name, it's obvious that your counsel should be ignored when it involves "growing up".

      Heckling/mocking hardly represent maturity. Sorry to bring you this overdue information.

      April 16, 2014 at 8:11 pm |
    • exstratusform

      And I'll say the same to you. Hope you don't celebrate holidays. No Easter eggs for the kids. No tree during Yule...in fact, no yule celebration at all. And I recommend you read a book or two about traditional religions and stop thinking of "Religion" as a faith/belief system. It doesn't accurately describe traditional religions. Heathenism is also called 'Forn siðr" "The Old custom". Belief doesn't matter. There are a lot of books written by scholars of religion....you should read a few....because you think of religion the same way a Christian does.....i expect you'll want to get rid of that baggage to truly be free from it.

      April 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.