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May 24th, 2014
06:00 PM ET

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

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Raleigh, North Carolina (CNN) – Back home, they erase their Internet histories, look over their shoulders before cracking jokes and nod politely when co-workers talk about church.

But in a hotel ballroom here on a recent weekend, more than 220 atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers let it all hang out.

The convention was called “Freedom From Religion in the Bible Belt,” and it was part celebration of skepticism and part strategy session about surviving in the country’s most religious region.

They sang songs about the futility of faith, shared stories about “coming out” as nonbelievers and bought books about the Bible – critical ones, of course.

“Isn’t it great to be in a room where you can say whatever you want to whomever you want without fear of anyone criticizing you for being unorthodox?” asked Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, as he opened the two-day convention.

The Wisconsin-based foundation co-sponsored the event with the Triangle Freethought Society, which draws its members from this state’s tech-heavy Research Triangle.

The nonbelievers came from as far afield as Ireland and France, but most described themselves as refugees from the heart of the South - atheist anomalies amid fiercely devout friends, family and neighbors.

We wanted to know what it’s like to be a nonbeliever in the Bible Belt, so over the course of the weekend we asked some of the folks here to share their secrets.

They had a lot to say, and some of their advice overlapped, but we came away with eight top tips. Some said they wished they’d had something like this list when they began their foray into religious infidelity.

So, without further ado, here’s a “survival guide” to being an atheist in the Bible Belt:

You may be lonely, but you aren’t alone

Not so long ago, every other letter sent to the Freedom From Religion Foundation would begin something like, “I’m the only atheist in Nebraska … “

It’s still lonely being an atheist in rural America, says Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation’s co-president, but there are plenty of skeptics and nonbelievers in God’s Country – if you know how to find them.

Even the most religious states like Mississippi and Alabama have secular meetup groups, although many keep quiet and require long drives to attend.

Gaylor’s favorite story about the secretive lives of Bible Belt atheists involves two neighbors in Georgia whose jaws dropped when they saw each other at an atheist gathering. Each had assumed that the other was a good, God-fearing Baptist.

“They were afraid to speak out," she says, "because they didn’t want to be stigmatized.”

Gaylor recommends looking online for atheist support groups in your area; and be sure to search for related terms as well: agnostic, freethought, skeptic and nonbeliever.

It’s no fun debating fundamentalists

Bart Ehrman doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who backs down from a fight.

The University of North Carolina scholar often seeks them out, regularly debating the Bible and early Christianity with evangelicals and other experts.

But Ehrman told the atheists gathered in Raleigh not to bother arguing with fundamentalists.

“You can’t convince a fundamentalist that he or she is wrong,” he says.

Their theology is a closed system, according to Ehrman, and their social bonds with fellow fundamentalists are too tightly knit to admit any wiggle room.

“You can point to any contradiction in the Bible and it just doesn’t matter. They will either find some way to reconcile it or say that even if they don’t understand it, God does.”

Technically, the term fundamentalist refers to a movement of 20th-century Protestants who rejected modernity and clung to a literal interpretation of the Bible.

But Ehrman has a different definition: “Someone who is no fun, too much damn, and not enough mental.”

People will think you worship Satan

Many Americans don’t actually know any professed atheists, according to surveys - which means they often seem to assume the worst about them.

Fewer than half of Americans say they’d vote for an atheist politician; a similar number say they wouldn’t want their children to marry a nonbeliever.

A recent study also showed that businesses in the South are more likely to discriminate against atheist job candidates.

“I don’t know what they think we are, Satanists or baby eaters or who knows what,” activist Todd Stiefel told the atheists gathered in Raleigh, “but it’s kind of scary."

A recent survey conducted for Stiefel's new “Openly Secular” campaign found that 20% of Americans can’t even define atheism. Far more don’t know what “humanist,” “freethinker” or “agnostic” means.

Behold, the six types of atheists

Based on “It Gets Better” and other gay rights campaigns, “Openly Secular” hopes to counter that ignorance by asking atheists to share stories online about their lives and beliefs.

“What we’re really trying to do is humanize us,” Stiefel says. “Frankly, most of the hate and distrust comes from misunderstanding about who we are.”

You don’t have to convince your friends, family and neighbors to accept all of your views, the atheist activist says. You just have to get them to accept you.

Sometimes it’s better to stay in the closet

After secular conferences like the one here Raleigh, many nonbelievers get so jazzed that they rush home and blurt out … "Guess, what? I’m an ATHEIST!!!"

That can be a really bad idea, says Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering From Religion.

It may help the atheist movement as a whole to share your lack of faith with friends and family. But it’s not always the best - or the safest - move for you, she says.

Recovering From Religion’s online support groups are filled with stories about people who lost their jobs, their kids or their spouses after coming out as atheist, Morehead says.

“It’s heartbreaking. People don’t realize how big a difference expressing their nonbelief can make.”

Recovering From Religion recommends having a plan in place before coming out as atheist.

“If you decide you’re a nonbeliever,” Morehead says, “you’re still going to be a nonbeliever in a year."

The group’s own 10.5-step plan includes creating a support network, declining to get into debates and preparing yourself for a “religious breakup” with friends and family. (The half-step assures budding nonbelievers they don’t have to be experts on atheism and points them toward educational resources.)

Don’t be the ‘office atheist’

Candace Gorham says her close family is accepting of her atheism - but she’s not completely “out” at work yet, and doesn’t know if she wants to be.

Gorham, who was raised in the black church, says religion is deeply embedded in the lives of many Southern African-Americans, and the borders between private and public spirituality often blur.

“I work for a black-owned company, and most of my supervisors are black females, and it’s just sort of OK for everybody to talk about God, or offer to pray for you,” says Gorham.

The 33-year-old is author of a new book called “The Ebony Exodus Project,” about black women leaving the church, which has pushed Gorham herself to become more public about being an atheist.

Recently, a co-worker told Gorham she had seen her talking about being an atheist on Roland Martin’s television show.

“I was like, Oh my God, shhh don’t tell anybody!”

A mental-health counselor who works with children, Gorham worries that people will stop referring clients to her once they find out she’s a nonbeliever.

According to a survey Stiefel presented in Raleigh, more than 50% of Americans believe atheist teachers and day-care employees - people who, like Gorham, work with children - are likely to face discrimination at work.

She knows it's only a matter of time until more of her office mates find out.

“It’s getting to a place where I don’t have a choice. I’m just going to have to be comfortable with it - but it does concern me.”

The Internet is your frenemy

A co-worker isn’t the only person who saw Gorham talking about atheism on television.

Her aunt read about the Roland Martin interview online, which led Gorham’s mother to call and ask if she is really an atheist.

The conversation went well, Gorham says, and her mother understands and respects her beliefs.

But the unexpected disclosure shows why many atheists cover their Internet tracks, even as they increasingly look for like-minded communities online.

Gorham says she used to delete her browsing history on her laptop after watching atheist debates and lectures online lest her husband or other family members find out her faith was wavering.

“I was still early in my deconversion and I wasn’t sure how he would perceive it,” says the Greensboro, North Carolina, native.

Others here for the conference said they keep two separate Facebook pages, one for friends and family and one for their secular communities.

“Facebook is my happy place,” says one middle-aged woman who made a nearly seven-hour drive to Raleigh from Crossville, Tennessee.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified, teaches at public schools. She says most of her neighbors and co-workers are Christians.

“Crossville is a small Bible Belt community with churches on every corner,” she said, “and everything shuts down on Sunday except for Wal-Mart and the hospital.”

Most co-workers assume she’s Christian, but she joins as many atheist groups online as she can and keeps an anonymous Facebook page called “Within Reason.”

One recent post asks people to click “like” if they’ve ever been unfriended because of an atheism-themed status update.

Some people take Bible-thumping literally

Adults may face more real-life repercussions for coming out as atheist in the Bible Belt, but that doesn’t mean kids have an easy ride.

Kalei Wilson, 15, says she lost friends after trying to start a secular student club at Pisgah High School in Canton, North Carolina; and someone used a Bible to destroy her science project, leaving the holy book on her smashed model of the universe.

The blue-haired, nose-pierced freshman says she’s not the only atheist at her high school, but most of them are closeted.

“I didn’t want to come out at first,” Wilson says, “but in order to start the club I had to.”

In exchange for her openness, Wilson says, some students mutter "Jesus loves you” as she walks down the hall, and she regularly receives text messages with the greeting, “Hey, Satan.”

“I’ve lost friends because of it,” the teenager says of her atheism, “but they’re not real friends if that’s what they do.”

Have a sense of humor

For all the heartbreaking stories, if was there was a soundtrack to the conference in Raleigh, it would include a lot of laughter.

It seemed as if the atheists and freethinkers here had been storing their sharpest religion jokes for weeks, preparing for the day when they would find an appreciative audience at last.

“I’ve been living in the South for 13 years,” says Pat Meller, who came to Raleigh from nearby Greensboro, “and I’ve had to watch my tongue for just as long.”

So for two days, Meller and her kindred spirits cut loose.

They quipped about the folly of prayer, bought bumper-stickers calling the Bible a “Grim Fairy Tale,” and wore T-shirts proclaiming their belief in life before death.

Harry Shaughnessy, president of the Triangle Freethought Society, played the cut-up emcee for much of the weekend.

“For every activist-oriented event we have, we want to have three to five things that are just fun,” says Shaughnessy, whose group holds regular “Heathen Happy Hours” and meets for barbecues in each other’s homes.

At one point, the youthful 44-year-old donned a crown and a form-fitting, skin-colored costume to bestow Freedom From Religion’s “Emperor Has No Clothes” award on Steifel for his activism.

Perhaps appropriately for an atheist event, Shaughnessy’s get-up left little to the imagination.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Black issues • Church and state • Culture wars • Discrimination • Internet • Lost faith • Nones • North Carolina • Prejudice • Religious liberty

soundoff (4,807 Responses)
  1. colin31714

    "“You can’t convince a fundamentalist that he or she is wrong,” [Ehrman] says. Their theology is a closed system, according to Ehrman, and their social bonds with fellow fundamentalists are too tightly knit to admit any wiggle room.

    “You can point to any contradiction in the Bible and it just doesn’t matter. They will either find some way to reconcile it or say that even if they don’t understand it, God does.”

    Anybody who has debated with NoahsdadTopher (f/k/a Topher) kermitforJC, that idiot German Rainer, Theo or Dalahast.

    May 25, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
    • Doris

      Don't forget the snotty wanderer who is having brain freeze about evolution still in the other article.

      May 25, 2014 at 10:15 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    this doG is an atheist in the bible belt but I sure don't feel the need to surround myself with like minded people and sing songs. This sort of behavior just gives ammunition to those nutball Christians who insist atheism is a religion. Good grief!

    Life in the bible belt is fine. Just politely plan tomorrow's to-do list in your head when your friends are saying grace to their imaginary friend. You get more organized that way.

    The biggest downside as I see it is the lies that the schools and/or school teachers teach our children about the infantile foolishness that is creationism. My children's education is suffering being here. Not acceptable really.

    May 25, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
    • rogerthat2014

      The songs might a bit much. At least they aren't singing songs about taking a blood bath or how wonderful it is that someone named Jesus was brutally executed. It's hard for some people to come out as an atheist. I know my parents would rather I be gay than be an atheist. It's good that there is a support group for those that need it.

      May 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm |
  3. Vic

    Well, I sure hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend, responsibly of course, and with safe barbequing.

    I usually hold my greetings till Monday.

    Early on:
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/24/atheists-in-the-bible-belt-a-survival-guide/comment-page-5/#comment-3017267

    May 25, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
    • Science Works

      Hey Vic

      Early on as you say – check out the HGTV deal or this one at least he was charged – from the south .

      Thank the separation of church and state NO god(s) required to graduate from public schools in the USA .

      May 25, 2014 at 7:27 pm |
    • Science Works

      Oops

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/25/sc-pastor-accused-of-turning-bible-college-into-forced-labor-camp-for-foreign-students/

      May 25, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Enjoy a peaceful Memorial Day, Vic. Commit a random act of kindness in honor of a veteran.

      May 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Please take a long vacation, Tricky Vic.

      May 25, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
  4. skytag

    Seven state constitutions prohibit atheists from holding public office. These provisions have been deemed unenforceable, of course, but the fact that they exist at all makes it clear Christians believe they should be able to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

    May 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
  5. idiotusmaximus

    “You can point to any contradiction in the Bible and it just doesn’t matter. They will either find some way to reconcile it or say that even if they don’t understand it, God does.”...

    This is one of the big reasons why IGNORANT and MOSTLY UNEDUCATED people are so religious and will defend the bible and their beliefs to the end.....the FICTIONAL BIBLE IS AMBIGUOUS for just that reason...it can be used anyway the user wants to use it...and for that they get to go to a place called heaven and don't ask them where that is either cause many times they will tell you only god knows and he reveals it the minute you die...you are carried away to live ever after with many of the people you hated on this planet....religious people will never give up their right to be ignorant....to be educated takes time and energy...to be ignorant ones only needs to sit on the couch and say anything and call it gods answer.

    May 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
    • kermit4jc

      talk about uneducated..the Bible is ambiguous? sure..to someone who knows nothing about the bIble, where it came from (jewish people, in Near MIddle East-not from grand ole usa) Of course it seems ambiguous when you know nothing of the background

      May 26, 2014 at 2:07 am |
  6. skytag

    I spent four decades of my life as a Christian. When you are inside the bubble where your beliefs are constantly reinforced by associating with like-minded people, weekly propaganda sessions at church, studying propaganda such as the Bible and other religious material, and rituals such as prayer, you don't see just how arrogant you really are.

    For only arrogance can explain someone being so convinced his religious beliefs are inerrant when none of them is supported by a single shred of objective evidence that he feels justified in trying to impose those beliefs on all of society around him.

    "Hi. I know most people aren't Christians and that I can't produce a shred of objective evidence for the Bible, my religious beliefs, or even the existence of God, and I know that Christians as a group can't even seem to agree on they believe, but we should have laws that force all people to live their lives in a manner consistent with what I believe."

    If that isn't arrogance I don't know what is.

    May 25, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
    • hotairace

      Arrogance, multiplied by mental illness.

      May 25, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
      • idiotusmaximus

        95% of the people on this planet believe in some kind of magical ambiguous GOD....WHICH EQUATES TO 95% of the people are legally INSANE....how do you change that.......by GLOBAL HEATING AND DEATH for all living things on this planet.

        May 25, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • hotairace

          No, by education over time. Each successive generation will believe the Voodoo of The Babble and similar books of unholy crap less and less.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
        • colinrasmussen

          Not insane, just deluded.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Belief in educated nations is slowly declining. It will die out. I mean, does anyone actually think in 25,000 years anyone will STILL be talking about a wandering apocalyptic preacher, from the far distant Ancient Near East whose predictions of the immanent end times failed to materialize ?

          May 25, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
        • skytag

          realbuckyball: I think there will always be a market for comforting fairytales.

          May 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
      • kermit4jc

        im getting sick and tired of this mental illness crap that's flying around here by UNQUALIFIED arrogant people....leave that up to the Psychologists will ya?

        May 26, 2014 at 2:05 am |
        • hotairace

          Waa, waaaa! Too fucking bad, mentally ill delusional believer, pretending to know things you do not!

          May 26, 2014 at 9:19 pm |
  7. bannerdog

    All the "talk" about pretending to fit in strikes me as rather silly, certainly in the U.S.

    I'm agnostic. For a short time (my teens), I was an atheist (I'm using the term to mean someone who believes that god does not exist, rather than someone with an absence of beliefs). There was even a theist part of my life (when young).

    However, it never crossed my mind to pretend or act otherwise, even when I didn't know another person (as far as I knew) who wasn't a theist.

    I can certainly understand the appeal of being with like-minded people.

    However, I don't understand pretending to go along (that is, in the U.S.). Of course, I've not lived in all situations.

    May 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
    • bostontola

      Part of it is how ambitious you are. If you want to rise in a large organization, you'd better keep that in the closet. If not, it's not as big a deal.

      May 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      It depends on what you mean by pretending. If someone says "bless you" or have a "blessed day" is it pretending if you smile and move on? Or, simply remain silent while co-workers discuss church functions?
      Often there is little reason to bring up one's atheism/agnosticism in many business environments.

      May 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
    • nepawoods

      "I'm agnostic. For a short time (my teens), I was an atheist (I'm using the term to mean someone who believes that god does not exist, rather than someone with an absence of beliefs)."

      Statements like this always puzzle me. So your belief that god does not exist went away. Did you also once have an implicit belief that Zeus does not exist? Did that go away too?

      May 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
  8. magicpanties

    My invisible pink unicorn would like you all to know that she has found the one, the true, the only real god.
    However, she won't say who/what it is until and unless you believe in her.
    So, simply profess your faith in invisible pink unicorns so that truth is revealed.

    May 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
    • bostontola

      All anyone has to do is open their heart to the pink unicorn. But it has to be sincere, the pink unicorn knows.

      May 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
      • meatheist

        But the dayglo pink unicorn, the only true god, knew before you were created what would be in your heart, and the punishment that will come to you if you are judged insufficiently horn_y, an eternity of being stagged to death over and over again...

        Be forewarned–all those who cannot see the day in the glo of the almighty pinkness and speaketh and pray to the false only pink unicorn.

        May 25, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
        • bostontola

          Thank the unicorn, I was blessed with sufficient hor.nyness.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
  9. bostontola

    1. It's not just the Bible Belt, atheists are looked down on in most places.

    2. In a country defined by the Consti.tution, that is a statement of how powerful the religious majority is. Imposing their world view on all is more important than freedom to them (yeah, yeah, I know eternity is more important than our little tryst in this world). If it weren't for the genius of the founding fathers and the Const.itution, atheists (and gays, women, African Americans, etc.) would be in real trouble.

    May 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Follow your own advice and keep your atheism to yourself. Problem solved! See how easy it is?

      May 25, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
      • bostontola

        Thanks for making my point concrete.

        May 25, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Go invent a country where atheists rule. Oh wait. That's a communist country!

          May 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • bostontola

          finisher,
          Why would I do that? I said I'm glad we have a const.itution here to limit the majorities power. My point was that the religious majority here is so powerful, that they still can do harm. It would be much worse without the const.itution.

          You are actually a minority, religious fanatic. Most religious people are reasonable, productive, good people.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Any theocracy is dangerous including your atheism. No perfect system exists so......

          May 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • bostontola

          We agree there, no perfect system exists.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          So your fighting an a war that cannot be won. Each human system has failed INCLUDING atheism.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          Atheism is not a system. If you are referring to Communism then, yes, it has failed.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
        • bostontola

          1. Atheism isn't a system. It's one idea, the person doesn't believe in God. All else is completely variable and can be different atheist to atheist.

          2. What war? I merely stand up for the rights accorded to me in the Consti.tution.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          And you are given it. You aren't forced to worship anything so your "standing up" is a delusion. You can freely be an atheist. Your a delusional man. Seek help. You have a persecution complex and cry for no reason. Unless people are rounding up atheists and physically doing harm or killing them, your delusion would be real but it's not. Grow up, kid. If your mad at your childhood, there's help out there.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • bostontola

          I'm not persecuted and never said I was. I have experience discrimination though.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          ...all people have. Stop whining. you're an adult not a child.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
        • bostontola

          You call it whining, I call it standing up for my rights. You go ahead and let people push you around if you want. Civil rights movement, women's rights movement, etc. stood up for their rights. I admire them. You on the other hand represent the majority. You stand in the crowd and cast aspersions.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          As an adult you can do something about it. You do realize that any type of bullying, harassment, OR discrimination can be charged? If someone does, they can lose everything including their home or job. So your "rights" have nothing to do with it. Normal people can't do a friggin thing, kid. You would have to fight against politicians who are given to power to create or ban laws. You're fighting the wrong people. Oh wait. Instead of facing the source of the problem, you complain to us?! You are seriously pathetic. That's a childish and lazy move because we have nothing to do with your problems.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
        • bostontola

          Actually no, I have donated my time to multiple political races to defeat fundamentalist candidates. I have also donated to organizations that fight fundamentalists trying to change school curricula. I enjoy it.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Then stop complaining to normal people who don't partake in the decision making of laws.Make your voice known AGAINST the politicians with extreme wealth. That's all politics is about. The more money you have, the more powerful you become. Normal people, the people you complain most to, have nothing to do with it. Stop blaming us. I have never discriminated against anyone and never will. The words (although they do change over time) still remain true. I don't care what religion you are, you can believe and practice it here freely. No religion no matter how "powerful" it becomes, does not rule here. That is a fact. I don't care that these politicians have money and grew with it, it doesn't matter. The facts remain true. They can say what they want but there will always be people out there who will voice their opinions when a law is unlawful. That's allowed here. So stop complaining to people who hold no political power. They have nothing to do with it.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
        • bostontola

          finisher, that is the topic of this article. The fact that some atheists feel they need to hide their beliefs because of discrimination. Please try to keep up.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
        • Doris

          finisher: "..Unless people are rounding up atheists and physically doing harm or killing them"

          Yes well it's important to remain vocal about what we see happening from some Christians in the world in that regard. Only in the past few years have we seen evangelicals from the U.S. traveling to Africa and inciting people to kill and jail others there. It's important to show that only until called out on it recently, the Anglican and Catholic hierarchy that have great influence there have remained apathetic and in some cases have encouraged the progression of legislation there that has resulted in further killing, jailing and suicide. Christians on this blog in particular have shown great indifference in these nasty activities of their "brethren in Christ".

          May 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
        • Doris

          And I should point out that the victims I wrote about in Africa include Christians. It may not be an atheist being persecuted, but it seems to take atheists to bring to light atrocities in this century that Christian fundamentalists would like to ignore.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • idiotusmaximus

          Right bostontola......those religious fanatics will always give themselves away with that stay in the closet crap....I'm an atheist and live in very liberal West Hollywood and they look strangely at me when during a discussion of what ever I just HAPPEN to mention it in passing so I can Image what it's like for those atheist in the UGH...UGLY BIBLE BELT.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • idiotusmaximus

          Well Doris...it's the EVANGELICALS in UGANDA...that PUSHED the government there to pass the death penalty on any GAY PERSON THEY GET THEIR HANDS ON.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
        • Doris

          Yes, maximus, and Scott Lively, the evangelical from the U.S. that lead a team there to stir up the hate there was more recently doing the same thing in Moldova.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Religion is a human system. It has already failed. It explains nothing. It prevents no disasters. It can't make it rain.
          The lack of some thing (beliefs) is not a system. But your stupid logic the fact YOU don't buy into Sparkly Pink Unicorn is a "system" (to you). The lack of something does not require a position towards it. Things same be dismissed as trip. (Kinda like what you write.

          May 25, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
      • whippstippler7

        I have yet to see a group of atheists show up at my door on a weekly basis distributing their literature. I have yet to be stopped in the middle of the street by a couple of young men in suits who want to tell me about atheism. I have yet to see a world-wide organization of atheists systematically covering up thousands of cases of child abuse inflicted by members of their group.

        Atheists are vocal in response to religious groups, especially those who would seek to inject their specific religion into public laws, public administration, and education.

        May 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          It's your house. Are you stupid or something? You own it...so...stop being a child.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          @ finisher: fascinating response.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
        • hotairace

          I find that all Babble Humpers, regardless of age or gender, understand a vigorous "Fuck Off" and never come back. I highly recommend this clear and concise messaging.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • observer

          thefinisher1

          "...stop being a child.'

          Why don't you follow you own advice? Any answer?

          May 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          And how many people were on the earth? Not that many. Atheists racked up over 100 million as a result of their murderous political ideas. Atheists outweighs God's count by a long shot. Atheists murdered for power and had NO ADVANCED MORALS. You atheists don't like actually saying why he flooded the earth. You skip over it for a reason.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          Why do you think religious people have murdered? In the name of religion and god, many religious people have murdered for power and control. Some even fervently believed that they had been ordained by their god to do so. And just because certain people do not act morally does not mean others will not. Atheism is not a system with adherents that rely on it for moral guidance. True morals are based in respect for the universality of humanity. We all want the same things at a basic level and it is a basic human trait to recognize that cooperation and benevolence are better for everyone than violence, coercion, and isolationism. As individuals, we innately understand that we benefit more when we cooperate with others and help them so that they will also help us. And, since were are naturally social creatures, the nicer we are the people, the more friends we have and the larger our support systems become. It's pretty simple logic.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
        • Doris

          Nonsense, finisher. Many people died of starvation under communist totalitarian regimes. Do you pretend to know the motives and religious beliefs of everyone involved in those countries during that time? The motives and actions of a few despots do not describe any kind of belief or non-belief system.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
      • thingsyouhaventthought

        Your militant ignorance is almost too much to bear. Communism is atheist by definition, but atheism is not communist by definition. An atheist government could be any type of system that exists.

        May 25, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Atheists invented communism which has racked up the highest number of deaths in a very long time. Atheists invented a system for murder. Fear? Nope. Truth.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • bostontola

          finisher hasn't grasped the 'all bears are mammals, not all mammals are bears' thing.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          @ finisher: Yeah, like that atheist Hitler!

          May 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          You atheists like shoving events down peoples throats who had nothing to do with it. When someone tells the damage atheism has caused, atheists hate it. Your side invented a system for murder yet you can't accept it? Why? Afraid to admit atheism has flaws? That is shouldn't be mixed with politics or have any power? Atheists (NOT INCLUDING HITLER) murdered millions of people not that long ago. They died at the hands of atheists. Deny that and you have problems you don't want to face.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • bostontola

          Please, Name a flaw in atheism.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • observer

          When God got done with his killing spree, there were only EIGHT people on the face of the earth.

          No atheist ever came REMOTELY REMOTELY close to God's killings.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • thingsyouhaventthought

          @thefinisher1

          You really need to learn how to stay on topic and respond to the point at hand instead of going off on inane rage rants that only displays your own bloated sense of self righteousness. For one, I have never done anything that you are accusing atheists of doing, nor did my comment have anything to do with how you responded. Instead of spewing nonsense, you could have simply admitted your error or done nothing at all.

          As for the rest of your diatribe: Atheism has caused no damage. Atheists have, but atheism has not. Evil atheists do not act in the name of atheism in order to eradicate populations or force people do live a particular way. Atheism is not a cause for war or persecution. On the other hand, religion is regularly used to persecute, murder, and degrade other people who do not believe in the same system. Some religious people use their religion as justification for inhuman acts. Atheism has never been used for such a purpose. Just because there are bad atheists doesn't mean atheism has been the cause of atrocities, because it hasn't. If you can't see the distinction here then that is either due to a lack of intelligence or blatant dishonesty.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
        • hotairace

          So, finished, what's with the rage over who killed how many? If atheists/atheism did murder more than christians/christianity, so what? Do you think that excuses your cult's bad behavior? Is that something to crow about – "christianity/christians, the world's second best murderers!" Why were christians involved in mass murder anyway?

          May 25, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
      • skytag

        Oh look, an obnoxious Christian. Shocker.

        May 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      But it's FAR FAR better than even 50 years ago. My granny tells me how completely unacceptable it was for Madeline Murry O'Hare to come out in the 50's or 60's. Today it's not really accepted, but in secular colleges, non-belief is "ho-hum". 100 years from now, it will be far better. It's a big cultural shift. The scientific world-view is only a few hundred years old. That's a "nothing" in human history. Knowledge doubles every 10 years. That's geometric. "The Singularity is Near", (Kurzweil).

      May 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
  10. thefinisher1

    Maybe atheists should take their own advice and keep their atheism to themselves. Oh wait. The advice they give to other people doesn't apply to them.

    May 25, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • igaftr

      Once the belief based laws are removed and religious displays are removed from government business , you may get your way, but it will have to start with the christians removing all of the places where they have forced their beliefs on others. And there are many.

      May 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        So you are basically whining when no "forcing" is involved? You are fighting for just YOUR freedom but leave out other people? Ha! you atheists are like whittle babies!

        May 25, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          @finisher: I understand. Really, I do. You don't like it when atheists voice their opinions, because those opinions run counter to what you believe, and you take those opinions as criticism of you personally. I understand. But, if you built your life around a belief in leprechauns, and you taught your children that leprechauns ruled the world, and your friends all shared that belief, would you be surprised if some one looked at you a little funny for holding such a belief? Or if someone voiced their opinion that you might be about five beers short of a six-pack for believing that?

          May 25, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
        • igaftr

          Why do you lie copnstantly. There is a great deal of forcing going on, EN forced by laws. And I am not whining, simply pointing out it is the christians in my face that require me to fight back. If they get rid of their religion from OUR government they will have no issue with me.
          You really have no reason to lie about it.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Are you still an atheist? Are you forced to follow a god? You're delusional, kid.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
    • skytag

      More evidence Christianity is fraud. Keep up the good work.

      May 25, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      You stop "evangelizing" and "sharing the good news", and maybe we'll think about it.

      May 25, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
  11. dgm4frxc

    I am an atheist, and a conservative/libertarian.
    I have lived both in the rural bible belt, and in an urban bastion of leftism.
    Believe me, the so-called liberals are far less tolerant of those who do not share their views than the bible thumpers are.
    When I lived in the deeply liberal city, people hated me as soon as they found out I wasn't a fellow traveller, or hand't voted for Obama, or thought Obamacare was a disaster. When I moved to the bible belt, people were much more welcoming and open and tolerant despite the fact that I was an open atheist.

    Liberalism is a secular theology, and it is on par with Islam when it comes to tolerating dissenting viewpoints. Christianity may be a load of nonsense, but at least it is far more tolerant of those who don't believe.

    May 25, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
    • Akira

      I am sorry you saw fit to introduce politics into this.

      All I can say that anecdotal stories are not to be taken as interpretive of all experience.
      This is why I have taken this article-and your post- with a grain of salt and not in anyway conclusive of the mindset of this country as a whole.

      May 25, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
      • bostontola

        Akira,
        I thought it was an interesting point. People have 'religious' behavior regarding topics other than religion (like politics). It can be as this person says (some liberals towards conservatives), or some conservatives towards liberals.

        Tribal behavior is innate.

        May 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
        • Akira

          If that's how you interpreted it, ok.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
        • bostontola

          Akira,
          I don't know if that's what the person intended, but that's what I got from it. This person may very well be 'a religious' conservative themselves, but it doesn't matter to me.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
        • Akira

          Like I said, Boston, all right.
          That's not what I got out of it.

          May 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
    • skytag

      Your comment is a load of nonsense.

      May 25, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
  12. rineturelie

    Being a Catholic in the Deep South is pretty hard too. I've learned a few good rules – never talk about religion at work. If they ask you about religion, nine times out of ten, it's better to say that you are practicing and leave it at that. Never identify you are Catholic to strangers. Don't put your volunteer work with the church on resumes (you won't get calls back.) I am a quietly practicing Catholic, as are most down here. We deal with Protestant sects that come in and leave Anti-Catholic (Jack Chick) stuff on the cars, or they come into Mass, take Communion, and spit it on the ground. Honestly, I think if I identified as Atheist, life would be easier, haha! Anyway, props to my fellow human beings that identify Atheist. Most of them are the nice kind that just don't care. Then you have a few that are just nasty about people that believe in God. I just wish we could all get along.

    May 25, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • Vic

      I don't believe that Protestants do what you described.

      May 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
      • Akira

        You mean that you, as a Protestant, would not do as he describes.
        I have seen flyers for other area churches put on the cars parked at our Roman Catholic Church in my town.
        They have also been put on the area Mosque and the area Synagogue, as well.
        So yes, this behavior exists.
        (The people take the flyer with good humor; I doubt anyone was ever converted that way, anyhow.)
        It mainly depends on what majority church is any given area.
        Where I'm at, our community is diverse, with many faiths, so outright discrimination is not really an issue.

        May 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        Denial is common in the delusional.

        May 25, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
  13. Salero21

    And BTW that "Bible belt" term. That too is Total NONSENSE. Whoever came up with such absurd was drinking the wrong medicine [moonshine].

    May 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Actually, it fits them well because most are would describe themselves as "rednecks" in southern states...In fact, the most dumbest states in America happen to be filled with a "redneck" population.

      May 25, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • Salero21

        That's funny if not a phony! I don't live in a southern State but there are some "reds" and "hills" around here, also a few "trashy" and it's a college town. However atheism is Total NONSENSE [stupidity].

        May 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
  14. gruphy

    The clearest explanation for Atheists in closets, Reality. A very confused person.

    May 25, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
    • Akira

      I don't think Reality is in the closet regarding his atheism; he seems fairly upfront about it.

      May 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • Reality

      In a closet? No.

      Confused? For 60 years yes but no more as I am a happy atheist for the last twelve. Some suggested readings for your march to reality for those who are not reading-challenged.

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html – 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 and a discussion of each by clicking on the name.

      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

      May 25, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
    • skytag

      Saying atheists are confused makes no more sense than saying people who don't believe in Santa Claus are confused.

      May 25, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
  15. Reality

    Only for the those interested in a religious update:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
    prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, the Filipino “koranics”and the Boston Marthon bombers.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    May 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
    • cactus521

      An interesting history. My challenge is this–rather than break down these religious figures and destroy them and destroy the meaning they have in people's lives who do live good lives free of hate and warmongering, why can't you just ignore your own religious belief system? Your stories are just as oppressing as those of radical Islam, radical Christianity, and other radical religions. And you use the word "hallucination" a lot. I find that laughable–since current theories on the Universe suggest our entire reality may be controlled by an intelligent force which has determined many outcomes for us based on the decisions we make in our lives. And these theories aren't being suggested by religious scientists–many are self proclaimed atheists because they accept evolution as the most likely way our universe is being controlled. Problem is, man likes to tamper with that, including religious evolution that for some reason, even dating to Native American tribes long before Jesus, seems to be tied hand in hand with our own existence. I have seen countless examples in my life of the divine as expressed in my belief system, including countless examples where forces I don't understand–not random chance, have saved my life because I believe we either gather good by not speaking ill will of others, including what we derive as Jesus or Mohammed, or we gather a palpable evil by trodding on the the belief systems of others by trashing their divine figures. I do get flak because of the way I define Jesus. Jesus is someone who has suffered and borne a cross for our sins. Like Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Abraham Lincoln, and so on. No doubt they weren't perfect–find me the perfect being on this earth and promote that being to ruler of us all–you won't. But they did serve as examples of people with belief systems that brought joy or freedom into the hearts of others. Maybe Abraham Lincoln is God the Father, Martin Luther King is God the Son, and John Lennon the Holy Spirit. I think anyone crucified for their beliefs demonstrates some of these facets. We wait for a second coming and that won't happen until all belief systems, including atheism, reconcile with each other and realize we are in this together. Probably won't happen in my lifetime, but because of personal experience I am not afraid of what will happen beyond, even if it just is an hallucination.

      May 25, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
      • otoh2

        cactus,

        Paragraphs (and spacing) are our friends. It is very uncomfortable to read your giant block of text.

        Look over the original article for some tips on presentation.

        May 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • cactus521

          Sorry about the way I write–and you are responding to a published Poet Laureate and Creative Writing teacher (way back in the good old 70's when we were still arguing about the same things). If you can't gather meaning from what I wrote and can only trash the way I wrote it, then you clearly represent what I wrote about, those who can't see beyond opinion and into the deeper meaning of existence. And I guess that also means no one can express an opinion unless they follow your rules of comprehension. You'll find I can get very articulate and have well formed sentences and paragraphs when I spend hours poring over these forums, but I don't spend that amount of time. After an hour or two, when the snide remarks start surfacing, I leave. And note to myself–don't slam the door on the way out....

          May 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          @cactus: You were a Creative Writing Teacher? Hmmm.

          May 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
        • tallulah131

          No matter your self-proclaimed accomplishments, Cactus, paragraphs lend clarity and make comments more accessible to people who might not otherwise read them. Personally, I won't read comments like yours, because to me a lack of paragraphs signifies either lack of education or worse, utter self-indulgence. If your words are for others, write them for others. If they are for yourself, then why even bother posting on an internet blog?

          May 25, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
  16. ragansteve1

    Well, it is VERY sad that we cannot all get along regardless of our religious affiliation or non-affiliation. But, unfortunately, that seems to be very much a human characteristic. People seek out people like themselves and put people in boxes they may or may not belong in. I think it works both ways. I can understand that it would be difficult if one is a member of a very small minority. I once lived in a state that was probably 75% or more one religion. (Don't take that % literally because I don't know for sure. It just seemed that way.) I was NOT of that religion. I moved out when my work was done. But I survived and even prospered during my stay even though there were many slights and things going on that I did not particularly appreciate at the time.

    May 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
    • igaftr

      You would have felt differnently if there were laws restricting you because of your beliefs or if the President of the US said ( modified from a direct quote from GHW Bush.)
      "No, I don't know that Christians should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under no gods at all."

      May 25, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
      • thingsyouhaventthought

        No one says that.

        May 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
        • igaftr

          George H.W. Bush said in an interview in 1987
          "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God"

          So I was simply asking how he would feel if the president said it a bit differently. At the time he said it, I was serving in the US Armed Forces...clearly a patriotic citizen

          May 25, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
      • ragansteve1

        Clearly, I would have been offended if a president had said what you said. That goes without saying. But equally clearly, my experience was not irrelevant as you implied.I had children at the time who were attending the "public school", which was public in name and tax base only. We had a drought in the area that year and the children who were of that faith blamed people who were not of that faith for the drought. My son bore the brunt of that. So, as you can imagine, we were not left alone.

        In addition, after we bought a house in the community, we found out that there were maps of the community. On the maps each family was listed by their home. And asterisk was placed by our home because we were not of that faith. Those were the primary reasons I moved out of the state. So, don't imagine I have not felt discrimination based upon faith.

        I am sorry that you all are finding life tough in the Bible belt. Truly it should not be that way.

        May 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm |
    • whippstippler7

      @ragan: I know what you mean! I had an uncle like that – he liked to put people in boxes.

      Mind you, he WAS an undertaker.

      May 25, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
  17. emmellw

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, Ps 14:1

    Takes a really ignorant ,stupid person to deny God and the Bible!

    May 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
    • igaftr

      Thank you for the example of wherechristianity is supposed to be about love, yet calls all that do not believe the bible as fools.

      That is simply self-affirming text and the bible is full of it. Standard indoctrination/brainwashing technique.
      You don't actually think the bible would tell you the truth, that none of the supernatural claims can be verified, and that there is a good chance it is completely wrong, do you...of course not. ALL religions will teach you that THEIRS is the correct one.

      May 25, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Takes an even more ignorant person to quote the only book that details that god.

      May 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
    • thingsyouhaventthought

      Wow, using the bible to affirm the bible. Do you not see the conflict of interest in that tactic? Amusing yet sad.

      May 25, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
    • otoh2

      emm,
      "The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

      A quite old and sometimes even effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      The ancient, primitive Hebrews who originated those Bible stories were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.

      May 25, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
      • bhoffinger

        You're not informed. The so-called Ancient Primitive Hebrew were smarter and more educated than us. Even before there were Jews it is also true. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_Yetzirah 'Adom' the first man, and 'Chava' his wife were extremely brilliant people.

        May 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
        • Akira

          He said nothing about the intelligence of the ancient Hebrews.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      quotes from a book are only relevant to those who accept the supposed authority of the book

      in other words

      fvck off, punk

      May 25, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
      • benhoody

        More hate from the Athiest crowd, especially the self righteous thinks he knows it all Athiest.

        May 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @benhoody,
          Where's your comment rebuking your fellow Christian (I assume) for the OP and name calling?

          May 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
        • benhoody

          I have and I do say the same about so called Christians with hateful comments, but I was in answer to the hateful Athiest this time. I also don't consider sometime a Christian if they are full of hateful words toward someone just because they don't agree with someone, if they are they need to repent.

          May 25, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
        • hotairace

          Where's any rebuke for the alleged authors of The Babble for all their name calling?

          May 25, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @benhoody,
          But in this case the atheist was responding to an initial name calling by an apparent Christian and you simply ignored the Christian and rebuked the atheist. At least be consistent or admit to a double standard.

          May 25, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
        • sam stone

          figures..benhoody blathers and runs. a typical blog christian

          May 25, 2014 at 9:04 pm |
      • sam stone

        ben: where did i say, or even imply, that i knew it all

        d-bag wants to call people fools

        i just wanted to suggest that he fvck off

        if that offends you, the same suggestion applies to you

        May 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      @emmellw,
      "anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Mt 5:22)

      May 25, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
    • skytag

      That was pathetic. For the record less than one third of the world's population accepts the Bible as true. Fools are people like you, so arrogant that even though you can't produce a shred of objective evidence for anything you believe you are absolutely convinced anyone who doesn't buy into your myths and fairytales is a fool.

      May 25, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
    • tallulah131

      So basically, the book that tells you to believe in your god tells you that you are a fool for not believing in that god. And you fell for that?

      May 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
  18. Salero21

    If it wasn't such a phony it could be funny! The most ridiculous article in the Belief Blog ever!

    Other than spending ETERNITY in the other place that IS NOT HEAVEN. Atheists have little to worry about their Enormous, Absolute, Complete and Total absurdity and NONSENSE in this country. Godly people, men of reason and reasonable men we heard them bellyaching, complaining and whining but we're not listening to them at all.

    May 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir5PrB7XV5E

      May 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        atheism's "boxer shorts" logic. LOL

        May 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • nepawoods

          Do you know what a straw man is?

          May 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Not surprising that you'd support Sally...both of you have the same low-level intellect and imaginary friend...you crazy type attract each other.

        May 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • Salero21

          I'm sure you have a PhD... in Charlatanism!!

          May 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
      • igaftr

        I see scot, so he uses an analogy that involves boxer shorts, and THAT is all you took away from it. I see.

        Granted, not the best analogy, but he clearly shows the absurdity of leaping to conclusions with no evidence at all, as all religions do.

        May 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
  19. Semper Cogitatus

    One simple rule will help atheists survive in the bible belt, or devout Christians survive among atheists, or really anyone survive anywhere. It's simple: Don't be a Richard.

    May 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • nepawoods

      If Christianity says the omnipotent all-loving creator will banish all non-Christians to eternal torture in a lake of fire, is that possible? (i.e. possible to be a devout Christian, and not be a Richard?)

      May 25, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
  20. Reality

    At 10:47 AM, I thought I had ended this discussion and the any need for this blog but obviously not so one more time:

    Time to put the kybosh on all religions in less than ten seconds. Mind boggling how easy this is and it indeed it is priceless!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ADDED DETAILS AVAILABLE UPON WRITTEN REQUEST

    May 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
    • bhoffinger

      What are your sources for saying there was no Moses, Noach, etc?

      May 25, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
    • Reality

      Added details:

      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
      prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      earlychristianwritings.com/

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, the Filipino “koranics”and the Boston Marthon bombers.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      May 25, 2014 at 3:40 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.