All in the family? Not for atheists
Marrying an atheist can lead to family problems, a new survey says.
June 24th, 2014
08:03 AM ET

All in the family? Not for atheists

By Sara Grossman, CNN

(CNN) When Americans think of their future in-laws, they approve of nearly every type of person - except for atheists.

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center aimed to examine political polarization. It asked Americans whether they would be disappointed if a close family member married someone of a different race, country, political party or someone who doesn't believe in God.

Less than 20% of Americans said they would be unhappy if a close family member married someone from the opposite political party and only 11% said they would be upset if that person was of a different race.

But 49% of Americans said they would be disappointed if their family member married an atheist, making nonbelievers by far the most stigmatized group in the survey.

Conservatives overwhelmingly held reservations about secular Americans, with 73% saying they would be less than thrilled if a family member tied the knot with a nonbeliever.

Somewhat surprisingly, liberals also said they were uncomfortable with such a union. Nearly a quarter of Americans who call themselves “consistently liberal” and 41% of “mostly liberal” respondents said they wouldn’t want an atheist to marry into their family.

The poll is the latest evidence of the hard road atheists travel in the United States.

According to separate studies, atheists are more likely to face job discrimination, political pushback and general distrust.

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide

Discrimination against atheists is “rampant,” said Dave Muscato, public relations director for American Atheists, an advocacy organization that fights for the separation of government and religion.

“There is a stigma against atheism because there is so much misinformation about atheists,” Muscato said in an e-mail. “Atheists don't hate your god, we aren't evil, and we're nor immoral; we are simply not convinced that your god exists.”

One of the most common stereotypes about atheists is they are angry white guys, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California who has studied secularism.

The reasons for this animosity toward atheists are multifaceted, he said.

For one, religion has been a major part of American culture since the country was founded, and many Americans continue to associate nonreligiosity with immorality.

Further, thanks to practices such as the Pledge of Allegiance, many Americans associate God and religion with patriotic values and atheism with being un-American.

“There’s a stigma for being anti-black, there’s a stigma for being anti-Jewish, there’s a stigma for being anti-gay,” Zuckerman said. “There has never been a stigma for being anti-atheist.”

Behold, the six types of atheists

Zuckerman and Muscato said that atheists need to come out of the shadows to gain more mainstream acceptance.

“Pretty much everyone knows at least one person who's an atheist,” Muscato said. “They just may not know it, because the prejudice is so strong that atheists have reasons for not talking about their atheism.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Discrimination • Prejudice

soundoff (945 Responses)
  1. kevinite

    I'm kind of wondering that when asked about athiest in-laws when the word "athiest" was brought up connotated something more than just religiously unaffiliated to most of the people in the survey, or in other words the term "atheist" was also associated with the word "activist" in most people's minds.

    June 25, 2014 at 12:07 am |
    • tallulah131

      The parameters of the survey appear to be in the story. Did you read it?

      June 25, 2014 at 12:13 am |
      • kevinite

        The story uses the term a-theist in referring to the forty nine percent results.

        June 25, 2014 at 12:26 am |
      • kevinite

        Actually I did read the article and according to the article the word atheist was used.

        June 25, 2014 at 12:30 am |
  2. ragansteve1

    “Atheists don't hate your god, we aren't evil, and we're nor immoral; we are simply not convinced that your god exists.” This guy has never read many of the posts on this part of the CNN site. The ridicule, sarcasm, condescension and more against people of faith fill these pages. It isn't that I care a lot. I actually expect it. But it is reality.

    A perfect example is right at hand, in the post just above where I am writing. But it could be any one of two or three dozen on this page. The person who shall remain nameless is quoted "The fact of the matter is, in the simplest terms, it is just hard to not feel more enlightened and intelligent than most religious people . . . ."

    Clearly, in most cases here it isn't that atheists "are simply not convinced that your god exists.” Not that simple at all. On the other hand, I have a diverse family in most every way including agnostics and some that may actually be atheists (from the way they talk–I don't press them on the subject). I can accept them without a problem because to a person they are not arrogant, self-absorbed people.

    June 24, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
    • willthefree

      First, there is a difference between atheists and anti-theists, just like you likely draw a difference between religious and those who would kill you if you won't follow what they believe.

      Second, I don't really see the religious majority as persecuted. You are sitting with many many friends, so if an atheist takes a shot at you, you can take it.

      Thirdly, I absolutely agree with you on your final comment. Who cares what people believe? An a*hole is an a*hole, religious or not.

      I guess my response to your comment is that atheists have just as many shades of gray as religious folks do. Possibly more persecuted, possibly with less guilt (raised catholic here), but no different than anyone else really.

      June 24, 2014 at 11:13 pm |
      • ragansteve1

        I actually agree with probably 95% of what you said. Please note that I restricted my comments to those posting on this CNN site. I don't know a large number of atheists, so I would not presume to judge the whole group. I just read and report what I see. I would agree also that people of faith are not "persecuted" and I didn't say they were. But they are ridiculed and sometimes worse on these pages.

        Having said that, I have had some stimulating discussions with atheists even on these pages. There are some that are willing to listen to another point of view, even though they are yet convinced that they are right. But those are the few among many who could not carry on a decent conversation with someone who is a person of faith if it would save their souls, which, of course, they would say is irrelevant.

        June 24, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
    • cef911f1

      To me, what seems to be missing from this debate is the distinction between religion and faith. As an atheist, I find the belief in "god" perfectly understandable and do not think any less of anyone who believes in a higher power. My wife is agnostic and I certainly don’t ridicule her or belittle her. Nor do I think any less of people that have faith in a higher power. They may be right. After all, there must have been something prior to the "big bang". The distinction between faith and religion is that the later seems to be used as either a weapon or a means to bilk those incapable of independent thought. Whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism, they are based on the writings of long dead men whose primary motivation was to preserve a patriarchal society and to explain what the science of the day could not.

      So, with respect to those that believe the creation story over evolution, that god sends hurricanes and tornadoes as punishment, or believing men will be rewarded in the “afterlife” with a number of virgins or eating pork or beef is somehow a sin, then yes, I do feel more enlightened.

      June 25, 2014 at 8:21 am |
      • ragansteve1

        I believe, if I understand your central point–that there is a significant difference between faith in God and organized religions, that I fully agree. Religions after creating huge orga nizations tend to su bsti tute people in po wer, or bure aucracies, for God. If one closely exa mines the life of Jesus, as a pri me ex ample, much of His mi nistry was spe nt in con flict with both the ex isting gove rnments and the reli gious leaders of his time. In fact, one very well-researched theory on His de ath was that it ca me at the han ds of Je wish reli gious leaders and the Ro man gover nment because he was getting in the way of the fl ow of money through the te mple and into the Ro man trea sury.

        June 25, 2014 at 8:36 am |
      • nojinx

        "They may be right. After all, there must have been something prior to the “big bang”. "

        Currently we do not know enough about the first moments of our universe to conclude much about it, and we know nothing of before, or if there even was a before.

        June 25, 2014 at 9:53 am |
        • ragansteve1

          i heartily agree that, from a scientific standpoint, we know very little about the first moments of our universe. Your last clause however, raises serious questions of logic, I think. "Or if there even was a before." If there was not a before, then that means all of what we have is something, and some VERY BIG things, out of absolutely nothing. And if there is no God, that means all that is came from nothingness with no force, direction, or will because nothing was there–not even God. That, I believe, violates several laws of science–those about conservation of matter and energy or something like that. I may not have the terms right, but I think I recall the basic concept.

          What am I missing?

          June 25, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
  3. colin31714

    There is actually something very healthy and educational about spending a little time as a discriminated against minority. I say “spending a little time” because adverse reactions to my atheism tend to be harmless and something I could easily dodge by remaining silent. I am a tourist who can check out whenever I want.

    However, knowing you are right and the overwhelming majority is wrong is a warm comfort and something every person should experience.

    June 24, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
    • ddeevviinn

      " However, knowing you are right and the overwhelming majority are wrong is a warm comfort and something every person should experience."

      The exact same sentiment expressed by the 6% of the population that still denies men have landed on the moon.

      June 24, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        And the 2% of the population that still denies the holocaust.

        June 24, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
        • willthefree

          And the small percentage that still thinks the earth is flat. And that the earth is the center of the universe. And that virgins give birth, and people walk on water. But I get your points.

          The guy definitely comes across standoffish, but at the end of the day he's probably heard a bunch of "certainly correct" religious folks telling him he's going to hell or something.

          June 24, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yes. I agree. And they all know they are right and the overwhelming majority is wrong. It is kind of the walking definition of arrogance.

          "an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people"

          A lot of religious people have earned that reputation. But people like the OP demonstrate they can fall prey to that type of thinking, too.

          June 24, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
      • tallulah131

        There is actually proof that man has landed on the moon. But despite the fact that humans have worshiped literally thousands of gods, there is still not a shred of evidence that gods exist.

        June 24, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          " There is actually proof that man has landed on the moon."

          Exactly. And while the OP may experience some kind of "warm comfort" from "knowing you are right" he has no more certainty than the non-mooners.

          June 24, 2014 at 11:44 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Again, I think the complete and utter lack of proof supporting the existence of gods makes believing in a god very much an act of faith and not of certainty. I do think Colin's comment was smug, but it was no more smug than the comments of believers who say that they know god exists but can't support their claim with anything beyond their own emotional experiences.

          June 25, 2014 at 12:04 am |
        • benhoody

          The evidence that God exists is all around us and as plain as day to some.

          June 25, 2014 at 6:09 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          "The evidence that God exists is all around us and as plain as day to some."

          That's just a load of crazy! Nothing you see is evidence of god, in order for it to be evidence of god you'd need to provide evidence of the god itself and given that you cant do that, using the God of the Gaps (I don't comprehend, therefore)...fails.
          An education is a wonderful thing...get one!

          June 25, 2014 at 6:27 am |
        • benhoody

          TruthPrevails, Since you know it all how about proving to us that God does not exist, you can't do that so instead you have to turn to sarcasm in your comment back, there is no need for that but that's all you have in your reply? You say education is a wonderful thing, get one, what are you some kind of genius with all your education you must have because of such a comment? Well with all your know it all and mockery of those who simply believe in God, prove to us conclusively that God does not exist.

          June 25, 2014 at 7:35 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          ben: You ignorant little boy! The burden of proof lies on you, not me! You say there is evidence around us for your imaginary friend except that you haven't provided one iota of evidence...prove it is your imaginary friend!
          I stand by what I said...you need an education...start with watching COSMOS and going back to high school.

          June 25, 2014 at 9:01 am |
        • benhoody

          Every time you open your mouth it's some kind of put down to the person who doesn't think like you do. You can't prove a thing you say but only in your mind you think you are right anyway and the only way you can answer is by some dumb ridiculous put down trying to put yourself above others, you really are getting pathetic, why do you hate it so much when others disagree with you that you resort to calling them names or other nasty comments, time to grow up there isn't it?

          June 25, 2014 at 11:18 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Why does the company that produces and distributes Fox News also produces and distributes Cosmos? And both are categorized under the umbrella of "entertainment"?

          June 25, 2014 at 11:23 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          ben: Such hypocrisy! You mistreated another person on the next page and you have the nerve to call out another person????
          You are demanding I prove a negative and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that a negative can't be proven. You have made the claim that this god exists, I don't see the evidence that would merit agreeing with that...it is now up to you to prove it does. It would be no different if I said I knew Zeus existed and you wanted proof before accepting it. The burden of proof always lies on the one making the claim. As stated it does not take too much to figure that out.

          June 25, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • tallulah131

          Hey ben? Your scientific ignorance is not proof of god.

          June 25, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
        • benhoody

          Neither is your scientific evidence proof that there is no God.

          June 25, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
      • colin31714

        So, not having a god delusion is itself a delusion, hey? Nice Orwellian doublespeak there, ddeevviinn. Perhaps your name is well cchhoosseenn.

        June 25, 2014 at 12:07 am |
        • ddeevviinn

          Oh my, and you seemed to have been a fairly bright bulb.

          The delusion, as pointed out, is in this "warm feeling" from " knowing you are right" , not from the lack of a "God delusion." Reread, or perhaps read, 1984. It will clarify doublespeak for you.

          June 25, 2014 at 12:35 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Do you think his lack of belief is actually based of feelings?

        He simply likes knowing he is right and everyone else is wrong? He likes the effect that produces? God's existence would suggest Colin isn't right and that just makes him feel bad? The idea that a being that knows better than Colin threatens his warm comfort? That thing he cherishes so much that he imagines only he has access to?

        June 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          " Do you think his lack of belief is based on feelings?"

          No, I think it's based on a lack of spiritual regeneration.

          This is a forum in which we exchange philosophical and ideological values, but the reality is that as a christian, no matter how persuasive or convincing we may feel our arguments are, unless the grace of God penetrates the human heart and mind, individuals will remain in the state which Paul describes: " The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness to him, he can not understand them because he is spiritually unable."

          Truth is, if not for the grace of God in my own life I would be right up there along side the OP et al on this site trumpeting the fallacy and stupidity of religion. I am, by nature, the quintessential cynic, skeptic and rationalist. When I read through all the posts on this forum attacking the christian faith, whether it be the issues of canonicity, inerrancy, the problem of evil, the trinity, God becoming flesh, and on it goes, I get it. I have done the mental gymnastics on all of it, it is only, and I do mean only, God's work of spiritual regeneration that delineates me from them.

          June 25, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          That sounds like my experience. I've been drawn to Lutheran theology – because it explains what I had already experienced to be true. Especially the grace. When people suggest I have no evidence – or that I'm delusional or mentally retarded – I wish I could give them the spiritual evidence I've experienced.

          I suppose this is why Jesus asks us to love those who hate us?. To pray for those who intend us harm? It is not us they really hate?

          June 25, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          There has been a trend among many christians ( specifically believers in the U.S ) in the past 20 years or so to prioritize cultural relevance and to project non offensiveness. I think this is a reaction, and a good one at that, to much of the legalistic fundamentalism that permeated many churches. Unfortunately, the shift has gone to the other side of the continuum. We now have many professing christians whose main objective is to make their faith appealing, non confrontational. There is just no getting around the fact that the gospel, at its foundational level, is offensive.Where the rub comes in is that while the message of the gospel is offensive, we as believers, our character, is not to be. You just have to turn on the TV or consider some of the " well known christian leaders" from the past and present to see examples of offensive individuals.

          All this to say, even when you live your christian life in sincerity of heart and with genuine concern for even your enemies, you will be vilified. People will twist and distort your words, actions and motives, and the accusations of self righteousness, arrogance, and exclusivity will flow. But as Bonhoeffer said so well, " this is the cost of discipleship." Actually,he borrowed the idea from another guy, his name was Jesus.

          June 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Religion has to change with culture if it wishes to remain relevant. If it didn't change, mainstream christians would still be burning accused witches. The fastest way for a sect to be marginalized is to go against what is accepted by common culture.

          June 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm not a mainstream Christian. Following Jesus does just that: it opposes the status quo.

          June 25, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • ddeevviinn


          Only if you define "relevant" in terms of acceptance. Whether or not I as a christian am in the majority or small minority within a society is irrelevant. This has been true for the christian church throughout history, whether in the Roman Empire, the former Soviet Union, or current day U.S.A.

          You see, marginalization is not synonymous with extinction. It just won't happen. True christianity has always been and will be, counterculture.

          June 25, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  4. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    You've got to believe in something unnatural to be a good partner or parent?

    June 24, 2014 at 9:54 pm |
    • willthefree

      Solid point. Morality does not come from religion, nor should anyone (religious or otherwise) allow any doctrine to say that morality comes from there.

      June 24, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
  5. thesamyaza

    i wonder if the covered beliefs in other gods. and i mean one not of Abram. because i have a felling even atheist would hate the idea. like i still get looks when the conversation of faith comes up, and i say i follow 5 Dieties Amaterasu, Athena,Lilith, Morrigan , Gaia. it always the same thing
    1 amaturwhat???
    2 Athena like from Greek mythology.
    3 Lilith isn't that a demon.
    4 oh know you'll go to hell (my personal favorite)
    5 Morrigan, isn't she Evil?
    so to answer you before you say it

    Ameterasu, shes the sun if it helps your little head you can call her sol, or Apollo, the suns effeminate nature is more appealing to me i live in a place were we don't see "it" much

    Athena yes like from the Greek i live in a city were shes on the seal, and she guides me politically

    no she is not a demon just the knight also the three of reason.

    no i will not go to hell that's your belief not mine

    regardless of how she is currently being pot-raid on science fiction network, no she is not evil of "unseely" she is my ancestor, and i am directly descendent from her

    but i digress, you know how many homes i been kicked out of for telling my girlfriends Parents I'm a polytheism

    June 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
    • annastev

      If you tell your "girlfriends Parents I'm a polytheism," you're not kicked out of the house because of your beliefs, it's because of your lack of education. If you expect people to take you seriously, take the time to learn how to express yourself appropriately. They most likely simply listened to you and feared their child would be burdened with having to take care of you her whole life because your inability to communicate would prevent you from holding a job. It's not prejudice against religion- it's prejudice against ignorance- and that's something you have the responsibility to correct all on your own.

      June 24, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
    • tallulah131

      If I were capable of believing in gods, I would be a polytheist. I could certainly never believe in the abrahamic god, who is simply a reflection of the patriarchal tribe who invented him. If I'm going to believe in something for which there is no evidence, then a pantheon makes more sense to me.

      June 25, 2014 at 12:11 am |
      • thesamyaza

        agree, i did go from atheist to polytheist. i do understand that line of thinking, but Monotheism is just nutty. "my gods real your gods" not is just well idiotic. if your only evidence for belief is a personal feeling, then who the hell are you to say another one is rubbish. to me atheism is more valid an idea then monotheism. but not the atheist that say their is no evidence to prove a gods existence nor will their ever be. if you cannot maintain skepticism then your no better then a christian nutter.

        June 25, 2014 at 4:24 am |
        • tallulah131

          I don't believe in gods because there is no proof that gods exist. If such evidence were to surface, I would have to reconsider, but in all of human history there has not been a single irrefutable shred of evidence for the existence of gods. Because of that utter lack of proof, I can not honestly believe in gods.

          June 25, 2014 at 10:37 pm |
  6. ddeevviinn

    " Discrimination against atheists is rampant... "


    Perhaps it is and I'm just oblivious to it in that I am not one. In all my years of working in an industry which requires significant amounts of time interacting with a broad spectrum of individuals, I have never once heard of someone being discriminated against because of their religion ore lack thereof. This applies as well to my non work related contacts. It's been my experience that people in general don't really care, and apart from a genuine concern for peoples spiritual well being, I really could not care less if someone chooses not to believe in God/Gods.

    June 24, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
    • bostontola

      You are lucky. I have been in discussions at work where people said they wouldn't trust an atheist. I also know a person who told me to never discuss my atheism because he knew a person that was moving up but had their career plateau after their atheism became known.

      June 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm |
      • ddeevviinn


        Your experience is unfortunate. I guess my issue was more with the term "rampant", thinking that if it really was the case I would have come across it at some point.

        June 24, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
        • bostontola

          You're probably right, there are too few atheists to begin with, and many of them don't advertise their atheism, to be rampant. When it comes to discrimination, any is too much.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • qsmurf

          Something can be rampant and still be subtle enough to fly under most peoples' radar.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
        • fintronics

          It's not obvious because atheists have to keep silent about their lack of belief in god. Atheists are ostracized, particularly in the part of the U.S. where I live. I see believers pi$$ing and moaning on these blogs about "anti-theists", "angry atheists" etc, etc ,etc..... can you really blame us? just imagine being fired from your job for being an atheist, or hounded by believers that want to "save you"......

          June 25, 2014 at 11:32 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This is a subject that I am very careful with, even in a company that encompasses people of many faiths.

      Religion, like politics is not a suitable subject for the workplace and thankfully nothing overtly religious exists where it is an issue for me at my job.

      June 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
    • tallulah131

      The city I live in is honestly very, very tolerant, so I feel safe to "out" my atheism, but I wouldn't be as open in the small, redneck town in which I grew up. It all depends on location.

      June 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
  7. Doris

    awanderingsnot: "..my witness is not for you and i don't cast my pearl before swine."

    I must be a little psychic. I did always picture Snotty as having only one tooth.

    June 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    2014 Pew Study: nearly a third of all millennials – Americans between the ages of 18-33 – are religiously unaffiliated, a dramatic and ongoing change from previous generations.

    In the information age, religious people are finding it impossible to keep their children in their cult's bubble of lies. With access to facts, children are seeing the foolishness of religion and joining the world of reality. Christianity is dying out, and it's going to happen a lot quicker than anyone expects. A couple more generations and the christian sky fairy will be in a category with Thor and Zeus as a quaint primitive supersti.tion.

    No wonder Christians are so desperately trying to keep their children inside their cult bubble!

    June 24, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
    • willthefree

      One of the things that I am seeing is that our access to information is allowing younger people to see all the silliness that Islam is causing in the world. And when they see that some billion or whatever people blindly follow Islam, they start to realize that blindly following anything is for the dull mind. Eventually I think religions will begin to die out in the first world, but all that will do is make the religions in the third world more desperate and dangerous. This thing is long from over...

      June 24, 2014 at 11:01 pm |
  9. bostontola

    These research results raise the question, are religious people threatened by atheists?

    Given that atheists are less than 2% of the US population, they are not a political threat, a numbers threat, a physical intimidation threat, etc.

    So why would religious people discriminate in the workplace against atheists, not be comfortable with atheists in their family, not vote for atheists, etc.?

    An atheist merely doesn't believe what a believer in God believes. If you are a Christian, a Jew doesn't believe what you believe either, yet the data shows they are not discriminated against in the workplace more than anyone else.

    This atheist is more fundamentally a philosophical skeptic, so for me to accept information, I require it be well supported by objective evidence. That philosophy applied to God leads directly to atheism. Why would that simple approach to the world be something to discriminate against or even avoid?

    June 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "are religious people threatened by atheists
      Of course it does and this is what this survey data shows.

      Politics and religion are tribal and the Pew survey demonstrates just how tribal this polarization is.

      By declaring themselves not belonging to a religious tribe, atheists are cast themselves in no man's land. The tribe of believers defines this not as the neutral position it truly is but in "you're either with us or against us" polarized terms.

      The fact that the consistently conservatives are almost twice as unhappy by the idea of an immediate family member marrying an atheist versus marrying a Democrat is really telling, particularly when the political polarization is as strong as other survey findings show. The fact that 73% reported as unhappy with the idea of an atheist in the family is a staggering majority compared to all the other questions.

      Of all the eight questions asked on the marrying outside the "tribe" (the survey uses "party" but tribe is more accurate) the only one where "unhappy" was a plurality answer for the whole population was the atheist question. "Doesn't matter" was the overwhelming plurality answer for the other 7 questions.

      June 24, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
      • bostontola

        Humans sure are tribal. In this case there are many tribal relationships. For some reason the atheist tribe is more an outsider than the other tribes. I'm sure there is a whole complex of reasons, I'd like to see research on that.

        June 24, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Yes, like all primates, humans are very tribal.

          Sadly much of what goes on here – a good deal of it by people I would characterize as anti-theists – is the metaphorical equivalent of monkeys throwing poo at a rival tribe near "their" waterhole.

          I like the idea of exploring whether it is necessary for humans to belong to a tribe. I like to think it's not and that respect for the natural rights of everyone means being inclusive enough to transcend tribalism.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
        • bostontola

          It's not even clear that tribalism is bad. There are certainly some undesirable behavior, but if that can be controlled, tribalism is probably good.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          As primates I think we are hard-wired to find a sense of belonging in a tribe. I'm not expert in anthropology but it appears to be a primal need for many people.

          Belonging to the tribe of a sports fan is harmless enough ("How about those Cubs?") until the level of soccer hooliganism is reached, but tribal boundaries defined by politics, religion and nation states can be dangerous.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
        • bostontola

          We may disagree on this. Humans potential for accomplishing great things come from our ability to form strong groups. If used for destruction, bad things can happen. I think the positive potential outweighs the risk of the negative potential.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          I'm not sure that we disagree at all here. Teamwork is an aspect of tribal behavior and it is clearly good. A sense of belonging is good. We are social animals and being tribal defines behavioral norms, including morality.

          It is in the interaction of rival tribes where it gets messy. So perhaps it is "tribal rivalry" that I am talking about transcending.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


          "There's always next year!"

          Actually, many years back, I was more of a Sox fan. Everybody has sympathy for Cubs' fans, (except the red birds in that brewery paddock. There's nothing quite like the unrequited hopes and dreams of Cubs' fans, and the curse of the billy goat.

          June 24, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      " If you are a Christian, a Jew doesn't believe what you believe either, yet the data shows they are not discriminated against in the workplace more than anyone else.
      I'm not sure about that assertion, and you don't mention Muslims.

      We did have to enact the EEOC discrimination guidelines: gender, age, religion, national origin etc. Those people who claim that atheism is a religion seem to simultaneously exempt it from the EEOC requirement *not* to discriminate on the basis of religion.

      June 24, 2014 at 7:27 pm |
      • bostontola

        If you click on the job discrimination study, that was a study result. I must admit I was a bit surprised, but Jews were slightly positively discriminated (maybe they don't like Jews, but apparently they are recognized as desirable employees).

        June 24, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Do you have a link?

          June 24, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
        • bostontola

          Yes, in the body of this story in the sentence: "According to separate studies, atheists are more likely to face job discrimination, political pushback and general distrust." The hyperlink is on the word 'job'.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


          June 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Page 16 (bottom of first column and top of second column) speculates as to why Jews had less discrimination in the survey.

          The whole discussion section (pp13-17) is very interesting and includes a contrast with a similar survey in New England which saw none of the variances in discrimination by denomination.

          June 24, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
    • annastev

      The survey does seem skewed- based on the article, it sounds like responders were for to categorize groups of people by preference. If the choices put atheists in a list with convicts, drunks, and jobless, then the article would be declaring atheists the most loved population on the planet.

      June 24, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
      • nojinx

        I would venture the jobless would be much more popular than atheists, and drunks would be neck-and-neck in the polls.

        June 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
  10. realbuckyball

    That will change. I mean 25 years ago no one could imagine gay marriage. 50 years ago Madelyne Murray O'Hare was an anathema. Now it's "ho hum". The Good Wife says she's one on TV, and no one cares. 20m years from now, this too will have changed, as the main driver of modern culture, (Hollywood) will change perceptions.

    June 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      oops 20, not 20m

      June 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
    • tallulah131

      The internet really is the information superhighway. The more access people have to real knowledge, the less they will turn to traditional answers.

      June 24, 2014 at 11:27 pm |
  11. seander01

    I take issue with the author's use of the term "nonbelievers." Atheists don't just NOT believe in God. Many, if not most, strongly and actively believe there is no god. The difference is especially apparent when one marries into a religious family. Someone who is ambivalent about the existence of God will also be ambivalent about religious practices like baptism, allowing their children to be baptized because, after all, there's no harm in it. But the atheists I know have strong beliefs about the absence of God and therefore, equally strong objections to baptism and other religious practices. This is why having one as an in-law matters–because you will love the offspring and want those children baptized or raised in the same religion as the rest of the family. And baptism aside, for those who argue that children should get to make their own decisions when they're ready, how is a child supposed to decide which religion, if any, she'd like to practice if she's never exposed to any religion at all? If parents want to hold off on baptism in order to expose their child to a variety of religions, I would support that, but to ban all religion entirely because of a strong belief in the absence of God .... that's seems pretty messed up to me.

    I get that a lot of people arrive at this conclusion (that there is no god) because of bad experiences with their specific church or denomination. So switch! They're not all like that, and to assume they are because the Catholic/Southern Baptist/[Insert denomination here] church you grew up in was, is just as closed-minded as the people and beliefs you're trying to avoid.

    For true nonbelievers–those who simply aren't convinced there's a god, I get that, and I respect it. Those people should be protected. Those who actively push atheism, however, should not be. I wouldn't support that anymore than I'd support anyone pushing any specific religion.

    June 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      That's why I refer to myself as a nonbeliever as oppossed to an atheist.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
      • nojinx

        To me, atheist and "non-believer" are synonyms.

        I prefer Igtheist or Ignostic.

        June 24, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • joey3467

      I decided that the Christian god was not real by reading the bible. I went to Christian grade schools and high school and never had a bad experience

      June 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
      • seander01

        Joey, I find that response far more respectable than using one experience and projecting your conclusion to all religion. But even so, if your position meant you'd refuse to baptize one of nieces or nephews, I'd prefer you didn't marry into my family.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
        • carmelitaspats666

          I'm atheist and I don't date Christians. I would not want one of them to come into my house and tell my nephews and nieces (raised as non-believers) that if they don't have a personal relationship with a 2,000 year old virgin carpenter who is a Trinitarian-incarnational-atoning-resurrecting-ascending-soon-to-be-returning-God who sacrificed himself to himself, he will fry their faces extra-crispy. Also, you might have a problem with other CHRISTIAN sects who do not believe in baptizing children and see the act of baptism as an ADULT decision. Atheists marrying into your family are the least of your concerns. You should have a theological litmus test for the 40,000+ Christian sects.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
        • fintronics

          @carm "he will fry their faces extra-crispy. "

          Just fell off my chair laughing......

          June 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
      • seander01

        @carmelitaspats666, I wouldn't want that, either. Nor would I ever do that. Again, taking things to the extreme.

        June 25, 2014 at 9:44 am |
    • hawaiiguest


      You're only talking about the difference between gnostic and agnostic atheism, and that distinction can be taken on a case by case basis. For instance, the god of the bible is internally inconsistent and contradictory in its qualities, and therefore i am a gnostic atheist when it comes to the christian god.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
      • seander01

        I would disagree with your statement. While things seem inconsistent from the old testament to the new, when you consider the role that Jesus plays in regard to Jewish law, you see it's more of an evolution rather than a series of contradictions. It's also important to look at Jesus' actions and to use his love for everyone as the primary message. This is where the various denominations come in.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
      • hawaiiguest

        And yet in Malachi it says that god never changes. Removing the old law or changing it would constitute as a change in gods mind would it not? If not, how so? There is also the problem that Jesus specifically lauded the old testament law, and said that not a jot or tittle shall be changed until heaven and earth pass. Is earth still here? Then the law applies now. There is also the fact that the "10 commandments" are in the old testament, so are you saying that those do not apply now either?

        June 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      You have a poll of atheists ? How EXACTLY do you know that ? How many do you really know ? Or did you just make that s'h'it up ? Dismissing preposterous claims of the ancient Babylonian war god, and his supposedly "divine" son is not belief in anything. Absence of belief is not belief in absence.

      June 24, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        For the ignorant among us, ancient Babylonian war god = Yahweh Sabaoth.

        June 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Atheists don't just NOT believe in God. Many, if not most, strongly and actively believe there is no god.
      This is a pretty arrogant statement. You are making a claim based on your opinion. There are lots of atheists who precisely disbelieve and do not have a categorical belief in the non-existence of God.

      "For true nonbelievers–those who simply aren't convinced there's a god, I get that, and I respect it. Those people should be protected.
      So why didn't you start with this position. This is the problem here. Believers first cast all atheists as anti-theists in a form of tribal "you're either with us or you're against us" position and then modify it by saying "Oh but *some* of them are OK.

      Why not start with a tolerant position?

      Those who actively push atheism, however, should not be. I wouldn't support that anymore than I'd support anyone pushing any specific religion.
      I agree that anti-theism is indistinguishable from proselytizing for a belief.

      June 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
    • elsieprice

      It sounds to me as if you think it's OK for religious people to push their views on others, but wrong for atheists to do so. Why the double standard?

      June 25, 2014 at 7:27 am |
      • seander01

        Did you miss this part where I said, "I wouldn't support that anymore than I'd support anyone pushing any specific religion?" I don't support it. I think we should all be respectful of others' beliefs and non-beliefs. I'm a pretty laid-back Lutheran who moved to a predominantly Catholic area. What I see here are a lot of lapsed Catholics - those who were raised Catholic and have since decided to abandon all faith and denounce all religion. I see it a LOT. They see the hypocrisy that has plagued the Catholic church and make the assumption that all organized religion is bad. Many then go one step further and denounce their faith in God. There's not much I can do about that, and for the most part, I don't care because it doesn't affect me... until they marry into my family and their scars prevent my nieces and nephews from receiving the gift of faith.

        June 25, 2014 at 9:58 am |
  12. jumpnj

    Here are my thoughts about this..... who cares?

    Does religion or lack thereof define a person? No it does not. Yes, there are extreme examples on both sides. Whether or not someone follows a religion doesn't make them a good or bad person as there are examples of both on each side. I had a person once tell me that if I didn’t MAKE my family become a certain religion, they were going to hell. The next week he didn’t return to work and later we found out that over the weekend he passed in his sleep. There was also a few times that I ended up running a few minutes late and just missing accidents that the police hadn’t even made it to yet. Was either a higher power or just a coincidence? Who knows for sure?

    When it comes to a topic like this, I feel it is just best to agree to disagree and leave it at that and continuing to argue sides it just showing ones urge to be right. No one can really change another person’s belief system, so why not accept people for who they are and move on to more important issues in the world.

    June 24, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
    • qsmurf

      Completely disagree! The single best way I have found to combat the inanity of religious people – and honestly conservatives as well – is to force those who follow said belief structures to continually defend them with every irrational, illogical and hypocritical excuse, reason and justification they always do.

      As more people hear more consistently the sheer ridiculousness that is religious beliefs, it begins to hit those people that maybe the beliefs forced upon them as children were never really theirs to begin with!

      If we stop forcing them to openly talk about and defend their positions, we essentially give the impression that we accept that their superst.ition is a valid foundation for deciding laws and rights for all. Which I don't and never will accept.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
  13. katezmusing

    Actually, my conservative son, of liberal parents, is the atheist in the family. But I love him anyway. He's a believer in science, not magic and myth. I don't argue with that, as I am also a believer in science. Though I do love me some myths I am not a practicing religious person. And before anyone says anything, I was born Catholic, raised Episcopalian, and he was born and raised Lutheran. Nothing too extreme or evangelical, just your average Midwestern Lutheran church. We just don't assign our free will to some misty "other".

    June 24, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What? Heresy!
      Reasonable religionists have no place on the CNN Belief Blog.
      We prefer our believers to be Young Earth Creationists or other such nutbar extremists, not loving families who accept reality and respect each other's different views.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
    • kenmargo

      How did your son become an atheist? Did he ever try to convert you? What exactly is a conservative? Republicans have destroyed the image of a conservative. My idea of what's conservative is, is based on what republicans have shown.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • qsmurf

      Atheist conservative, to me, makes about as much sense as a gay conservative. But that's me. 🙂

      June 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
    • elsieprice

      The average midwestern lutheran church I was forced to attend as a kid pushed the notion that the satellites were a sign of the coming of the end of the world...

      June 25, 2014 at 7:37 am |
  14. kenmargo

    I'd be more upset if my daughter married a muslim man IF she is treated like women are treated in the middle east. If she married a republican, I might shoot both of them. Lord knows (if he existed) we don't need anymore republicans.

    June 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
    • kudlak

      Any guy can treat women like dirt, regardless of their creed. Best to just hope/pray that she gets a good guy (if she's into guys, that is).

      June 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
      • kenmargo

        That's true any man can mistreat her. It seems though muslim men have the market covered in that area. She's 20, in college. So she could change her mind 🙂

        June 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
  15. Reality

    To the nitty- gritty for the new members of this blog:

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

    The Situation Today

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

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

    June 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      And the reason why many people don't like atheists is the fact that a vocal segment of the atheist community not only are "not convinced" that God exists but actually hate religion. If you believe in God, you don't want someone coming into your family that will ridicule you and your faith. Now mind you, I have no idea if the percentage of atheists who are vocal anti-religion is large or small, but they are easily the most vocal and therefore in the minds of many they represent atheism.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
      • kenmargo

        I don't hate religion. I don't want laws based on religion. You could say a prayer for me if you like. I would be honored you thought of me enough to say a prayer. Just don't make laws based on it. Period.

        June 24, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Nicely put.

        June 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
      • kudlak

        To many, it's also hoped that it's only a small, vocal segment of Christians who are politically against gay marriage, women's right to choose, evolution, and the like. In large part, anti-theists are only a reaction to that particular segment. If you want to really battle anti-theists then, try working on the Christians who fuel them on.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
        • joey3467

          Yeah, in my opinion if you aren't willing to tell someone who thinks that Earth is 6,000 years old that they are an idiot then I consider you to be part of the problem.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
        • kudlak

          40% of Americans believe in ESP, 37% in hauntings, and about 25% in clairvoyance and astrology, but I don't see skeptics challenging them nearly as much. Maybe when the president starts taking the advice of the Long Island Medium, or the Secretary of State declares that he uses his ESP to guide him skeptics will feel the need to start speaking out against these beliefs too, but for now we generally see them as kooky and harmless, right? I foresee the decline of the "angry atheist" along with the decline of the ultra-conservative Christian.

          June 25, 2014 at 10:14 am |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        " If you believe in God, you don't want someone coming into your family that will ridicule you and your faith."
        @Maryland Bill,

        Who does this? Are there anti-thesists knocking on doors in your neighborhood asking to come in and de-convert you?

        I understand the perspective that you might find anti-theism to be objectionable. I don't condone it, but it is but a mirror to the behavior of what is at a minimum an equally vocal minority of believers who want to push their opinions around. Anti-theism would not exist without believers trying to drive conformity of belief. It would not be necessary.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
      • nojinx

        Of course. Pat Robertson is the representative of Protestantism to many in the world. We have to be smarter than that and not be deceived by the vocal minority of any camp.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
      • carmelitaspats666

        Yeah. I don't date Christians because of the vocal minority in rural Texas who would come into my house and blather on about how their three-in-one God will fry my face extra-crispy if I don't love him back. When I speak up against this psychotic, violent and sadistic belief, I'm the intolerant one. LOL!

        June 24, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
      • elsieprice

        But if you were an atheist would you want your mother-in-law to start pushing bible stories on your kids? Little kids are very susceptible to believing in things like the tooth fairy and santa. Do you want to tell you kids that grandma's silly or weird or wrong or thinks differently? It can get very tricky. How do you counteract the nonsense without showing a lack of respect for grandma?

        June 25, 2014 at 7:56 am |
    • qsmurf

      Great idea! I will never apologize for my anti-religion position because I honestly don't care what people believe...it's when they all get together and decide as a group that the rest of the world needs to bow to their beliefs.

      The difference, I suppose, between religion and faith. Have all the faith you want, just keep that faith away from my rights.

      But, I do admit that, from a big-picture perspective, relying on supersti.tion as a way to alleviate fear of death does seem to have more cons than pros.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
  16. dclelandtradelaw

    I would be more offended if a Christian married into my family. A conservative fundamentalist christian who watches fox news would result in bannishment from the family all together.

    June 24, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
    • kenmargo

      You have to admit Thanksgiving dinners would be great though.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
    • katezmusing

      Yep, I would have to agree with that one. I "un" indoctrinated my daughter-in-law and she doesn't regret it one bit. I was raised to think. My children were raised to think, and my grandchildren will be raised to think. Therefore, some effort had to be put forth.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
  17. econoneohwhat

    Religion tells you that you are sick and deficient (original sin) so that it can sell you the cure. What is difficult is getting someone with that mindset to understand Atheism because they just can't fathom life without that deficiency/salvation dichotomy. Religion also robs people of the curiosity to understand the way things work. The last religious girl I dated couldn't understand how the tides work and it was too unbelievable that the moon's gravity pulled on the oceans. When she asked her parents they told her "Some things are not meant to be understood and are meant to be part of God's great mystery." It is hard for Atheists to explain how they came to be Atheist and discuss the scientific "evidence" behind their non-belief when believers are so scientifically illiterate. It is almost as if the two are speaking different languages, trying to win a debate.

    June 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Religion doesn't tell me that.

      And atheism has nothing to do with that deficiency/salvation dichotomy.

      There is no scientific "evidence" behind atheism.

      A lot of atheists are scientifically illiterate.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
      • tnfreethinker

        You only know what you've been told. Try thinking for yourself sometime.

        June 24, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          How do you know I only know what I've been told?

          How do you know I don't think for myself?

          Because I have different thoughts than you?

          That sounds like circular reasoning. Any way – like someone else said: you are either a troll or a dolt. I have to agree.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
        • tnfreethinker

          Circular reasoning? Add that to the list of concepts beyond your grasp. Now I'm starting to feel sorry for you.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Any idiot can call themselves a free thinker and imagine that makes them smart.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
        • tnfreethinker

          Yes, and any arrogant person can believe that their chosen god, out of the 1000's imagined, is THE God, without even basic knowledge of the other religions/gods, and without having even read your own religious text, as you have previously admitted. All the while, 65% of the rest of the world is wrong, and will possibly burn in hell because of their religious birth lottery. Stop taking it so personally that I don't like your religion. It's not a rejection of you.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I was joking about not reading my religious texts.

          I have knowledge of others religions and gods.

          Nobody burns in hell for not believing what I think.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
    • qsmurf

      Well said!

      The fact of the matter is, in the simplest terms, it is just hard to not feel more enlightened and intelligent than most religious people when they actually open their mouths and start "explaining" their beliefs.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
  18. puhleezho

    I do not mind at all when adults choose to follow a religion, my problem is with adults inculcating children before they have the capacity to think for themselves. While parents certainly believe they are saving the soul of their child, are they really allowing their child to accept (insert god here) under their own free will, as intended?

    June 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
    • believerfred

      The reverse is then also true. If you teach your child godlessness then you rob them of the opportunity to ever be free of the bondage of godlessness. Teaching your children the way as presented by Jesus has ZERO downside

      June 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
      • hawaiiguest

        Except for the cognitive dissonance, fear of a non-existant hell, paranoia, and dogmatic assertions of the unproved. Not to mention the self loathing taught by the bible and the discrimination against women, LGBT, and those who even question the doctrine.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
        • believerfred

          That is the exact opposite of the truth. Are you listening to the audio of the Bible played backwards? The Beatles tried that and it sounded like "Paul is Dead"

          June 24, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          So you say fred, and yet you have never addressed leviticus and deutoronomy, nor how it does not apply today. Why aren't you stoning them gays fred? Or how about in Pauls absolutely moronic doctrines concerning all those groups?

          June 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          How about in the bible where it says that anyone who doesn't believe in your god is incapable of doing good? People use your bible as an excuse for horrible things to the outside groups because your bible promotes those ideas, no matter how much you want to change what words mean fred.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
        • believerfred

          "How about in the bible where it says that anyone who doesn't believe in your god is incapable of doing good?"
          =>actually Jesus says who is good but God. The moment you think you are good and deserve a crown and perhaps wings to go with it you are heading for a fall. Beginning with Adam and Eve we see mankind will choose something other than what God created. We see the Chosen Ones reject Gods way generation after generation in the Old Testament. You reject the way and I find it impossible to stay "in the way". I do however have greater awareness of my shortcomings and enjoy this path of improvement.

          "People use your bible as an excuse for horrible things to the outside groups because your bible promotes those ideas, no matter how much you want to change what words mean fred."
          =>not the Bible it is a problem with man as Stalin used Carl Marx to excuse bad behavior.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Yes fred, feel free to continue to ignore the parts of the bible that doesn't fit in with your interpretation, because only you could possibly have the right one. You're still as pathetic as ever.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Awww what's wrong fred? Done already? No rambling irrelevant posts about your bible? Maybe you've gotten a little less pathetic after all.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
        • believerfred

          "absolutely moronic doctrines concerning all those groups?"
          =>We used to scalp Indians and acted like beasts towards slaves in the U.S. in recent history. How much more brutal were men 3,000 years ago? Applying moronic doctrines from a few thousand years ago or a few hundred years ago is wrong God or no god.
          =>There are clusters around the world that hold onto brutal ways and justify their actions anyway they can. This is not the fault of the Bible. The Bible says to love God and treat others right from beginning to end. Jesus made it as clear as possible. Able loved God and loved everyone and was held high for it while Cain did not love God and did not do right by anyone's standards. It is not rocket science.
          =>Leviticus and Deuteronomy was written to Priests and a Chosen People who were to be holy and separate from the peoples around them. Penalties were harsh and you didn't live to repeat the transgression. Life was harsh and men hardened. They were to be a blessing to others and those around them. You assume they were not I assume they did the best they could. The purpose of the Law was to reveal sin and that it did. Those who acted unjustly towards others or even thought hateful thoughts received justice. God can and will judge us based on what we did with what we knew.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Oh there's the long rambling post that addresses absolutely nothing and makes claims that will never be backed up. Never mind fred you're still as pathetic as always congratulations.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
        • Science Works

          Come on fred did the egg hit you in the face ?


          June 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
      • Doris

        fred: "..the bondage of godlessness.."

        Oh, I remember now, that's the box they had in Ghostbusters where they capture all the evil spirits.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
        • Doris


          June 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          ... the light is green ... the trap is clean.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
        • believerfred

          Close but no cigar.
          The bondage of the godless is in this lifetime and eternal. In this lifetime it is hopelessness as your organic matter will cease to respond to chemical stimuli. Your entire essence is tethered to death and hopelessness. If your hope is that means you will simply no longer exist then you have a belief based on faith which is held by a minority. let's hope you chose the right faith.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        You rob them of the opportunity to ever be free of the bondage of godlessness
        Nonsense Fred. You and the army of "Christian soldiers" are there to tell them all about Jesus the minute anyone is interested.

        If your message was compelling to someone raised in disbelief they would accept it. Some do.

        That is the essence of freedom of and from religion.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
        • believerfred

          My message has been the same since the days of Noah and is founded on the words of Jesus alone. We have no idea about what really exists outside the known natural world. Jesus clearly presented an existence that included the known and the unknown. Exactly who do you know of that had a better grasp of why we exist?

          June 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
        • nojinx

          Mohammed. His stories are more scientifically accurate.

          Not that any if the various myths are proven via lack of contradiction.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Exactly who do you know of that had a better grasp of why we exist?
          No one knows why we exist Fred.

          And no child raised absent religion is robbed of anything. It is all there for them if they want to freely embrace it as an adult.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
        • believerfred

          Possible but unlikely.
          Attitude in life is mostly learned at an early age. People generally remain who they are by the age of 10. Attitudes of hope and faith from the parents leave the same mark on a child as does a negative or hopeless attitude. Children learn by watching and imitation. Now, 75% of church kids do not return to church after college but they have the dispositions learned in childhood. They have freely seen both sides of the issue and will most likely choose a faith with hope sometime down the road.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
        • Dyslexic doG

          it's cognitive dissonance, not freedom of choice!

          June 24, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
        • believerfred

          Atheism is cognitive dissonance. You claim to accept only that which can be proven by science yet believe by faith in that which science does not address.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


          Possible but unlikely.
          It is absolutely possible. If the message were the "truth" you believe it to be, why would it be unlikely?

          Is it your position that people are blind to the "truth" unless they were indoctrinated with it as children?? That hardly sounds like "truth" to me.

          Dalahäst and our old chum Chad are both people who have expressed being disbelievers and now believe.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
        • believerfred

          Jesus said we are to share our testimony and confirmed we are to raise our children in the way of the Lord. If you have experienced God then you want everyone to also receive that Gift.
          Certainly God can and will provide a way for anyone God wants to receive the gift. God has chosen to use people to reflect the Glory of God in them (the light), if you do not have it you cannot give what you do not have.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
        • believerfred

          "Is it your position that people are blind to the "truth" unless they were indoctrinated with it as children?"
          =>No, indoctrination is less important than example. Parents that are poor examples of Christians who preach the Bible to their kids do great damage. These kids end up with the wrong image of God and will need to overcome that. Teach your children by example. If you love God and others that is the beginning. If you do the other things Jesus taught you will have done the best you could. The rest is up to the child.
          =>I believe the reverse works the same way.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


          we are in full agreement on the subject of example. There is no reason that, by example, children cannot be taught to be thoughtful, loving, kind, generous, and civic minded critical thinkers, essentially trying to love others as themselves, without referencing Jesus or proxy threats of damnation.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
        • believerfred

          I forget do you believe there is only a physical part to existence or do you sense there could be something more than just organic matter responding to chemical stimuli?

          June 24, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
      • new-man

        "Teaching your children the way as presented by Jesus has ZERO downside."

        Amen, amen, amen.

        I mentioned below their belief in "no-god", to which many expectedly decried as nonsense. yet, they ignore that teaching the belief that there is no-god, is indoctrinating children. and yes, the belief there is no-god, is A belief.

        I try to be nice, but in reality I cannot understand why a grown man would label himself "Proud Fool" and put it out there for all to see!- and worse yet, he thinks he's smart.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I have some updates for you:

        One atheist believes he has an invisible pink unicorn in his garage. I asked him how he knew it was pink if it was invisible? He hasn't answered back.

        Science is a person that can talk. It belongs to the American Humanist Association, but doesn't consider that a religion.

        And there is ocean side property for sale in Arizona.

        June 24, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
      • nojinx

        Would you or have you taught your children the way of Mohammed because it has zero downside? What about Shiva and Marduk?

        Do you think there is a point where the time spent studying all faiths (so far) may be better spent elsewhere?

        June 24, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • believerfred

          Given awareness and thought is tethered by a higher level of emotive positioning than the physical it would be a big mistake to attache your wagon so to speak to this world in the physical as that is known not to last. If you put you soul into an object that is not tethered to this passing world then there is hope that it will continue in the direction you have found to have the greatest wonder imaginable.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
        • nojinx

          I am getting many misdirected replies today. Anyone else?

          June 24, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
      • xirume

        Teaching your kids a bunch of bùllshìt is never a good thing.

        June 24, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
        • believerfred

          I could not agree more

          June 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
  19. new-man

    They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your entire household.”

    It's for the above reason that believers should have NO problem marrying an atheist. One whose life bears fruit of the awesome power of Christ that works within them will have their atheist spouse believing in the God of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It can be no other way!
    ex. Todd White – wife was once an atheist
    Pete Cabrera Jr. – wife was once an atheist and I'm sure there are many more.

    June 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
    • Alias

      So all a sinner has to do is get married to a born again nut job, and jesus will let them into heaven?
      Do you really think that??

      June 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
      • new-man

        no, that is not what I think, neither is it what I've written.

        June 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • Alias

          “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your entire household.”

          So if the husband believes, the wife gets a 'Get Out of Hell Free' card.

          June 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • new-man

          If one spouse is a believer, the fruit and demonstration of the power of God in that believer's life should be evidence of God to the non-believing spouse. There should be something tangible that separates a believer from a non-believer. One that the non-believer recognizes it's because of God, and usually this is what leads an unbelieving spouse who is married to a believer to God.

          June 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " There should be something tangible that separates a believer from a non-believer "
          There is little to no evidence of that on these pages.

          June 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
        • new-man

          your opinion is duly noted.

          June 24, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
        • midwest rail

          Thank you. It is an opinion based on long term observation.

          June 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      Does that only apply to head of household?

      June 24, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
      • new-man

        no, it could apply even to your neighbor or co-worker. it's the goodness of God that leads people to repentance – i.e. change their mind about God.
        so usually when anyone around you is living a righteous life, and can demonstrate Christ in their life, those around them will want to know what makes them different.
        Not saying this will happen overnight- the human condition IS the human condition; but basically when your life reflects Christ, others will want what you have: peace, divine health, joy, love, life, light = you have God.

        June 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
  20. Dr Trollworth

    Are they sure this isn't animosity against ppl of a different religion, not just athiests?

    June 24, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What I've heard more than once is something along the lines of "even if our religions are different, at least you believe in something. Atheists must be sad, sad people because they don't believe in anything and therefore have no hope."

      It's the Kierkegaardian conceit that anybody without God in their life is miserable even if they think they're happy.

      June 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • new-man

        ahh, but atheists do believe in something, whether their god be: self, no-god, nature, science, money, career, prescription tablets, you name it. but they do have a god, several even.

        and Mr. Kierkegaard is correct.

        June 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
        • joey3467

          How can no god be your god? That doesn't even make sense.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • fintronics

          makes ZERO sense....

          June 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • new-man

          Akira, as Andrew would say, unfortunately many Christians don't let the word of God get in the way of what they believe.

          re: K.
          the peace [which includes happiness] of God transcends human understanding is therefore not a fleeting emotion.
          natural peace/happiness ebb and flow depending on how things are going in a person's life. i.e. happiness is based on the things he can see only in the natural.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • nojinx

          If someone has a god, they are not atheist, technically and logically speaking.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
        • new-man

          Everyone has a god, whether they admit it or not; whether they know it or not.
          It's their duty to find out who or what a god is.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
        • nojinx

          Interesting claim you have made. Can you support it?

          June 24, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
        • new-man

          atheists have god(s).
          look through the posts and you can identify the god(s) of atheists.
          they say they 'don't believe in a god' but that's because the majority don't know what a god is.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
        • nojinx

          I see. You define gods in such a way that all people are believers in some way.

          This article deals with a specific use of god that is used in modern vernacular and found in dictionaries. This article does not apply to your definition of gods. Maybe start a new forum thread?

          June 24, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Yes new-man because it's so much easier to tell people that you know what they believe or don't believe better than they do.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
        • new-man

          you do that everyday here.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Really? I haven't been on this site in almost a month. Interesting that you demonstrate exactly what I said. Thank you.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
        • new-man

          I should have been more precise in my wording.
          it's done here everyday by non-believers, telling us who God is, what is truth, what is love, on and on; because somehow in the carnal logic the man who hides the existence of God in unrighteousness somehow knows more and knows better than the man who actually knows God.

          June 24, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Really? Is it that they are determining who your god is by what the bible actually says instead of what you have redefined it as?

          June 24, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • new-man

          for me to redefine the word of God would be to redefine who Jesus is.
          there is no disagreement between the written word (Scripture) and the living word (Jesus), so for the word of God to be wrong on even one point, this whole universe would cease to exist, because it's the very word of God that sustains it.

          I say all this to make the point abundantly clear that I know the word of God and I know God, so I don't need to redefine who He is, because the written word and the living word presents Him exactly the way He is: creator of the universe, God of Love, Light, and Life. A just and righteous God. The healer of the nations. I could go on.

          June 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
        • hawaiiguest

          Then you will admit that your god ordered genocides, infanticides, keeps women downtrodden. That the bible claims that any nonbeliever in your god is incapable of good works, that LGBT should be stoned to death, among a myriad of other horrible things. Not only that, but you would also agree that to you these things were all moral since they were commanded by the god you believe in right?

          June 24, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
        • nojinx


          You missed my point. The way you use the term "god" here is a redefinition from the standard use and vernacular. If you attempt to read the article using your redefinition, it won't provide the same meaning the author intended. it may even sound nonsensical at points.

          June 24, 2014 at 11:47 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        "even if our religions are different, at least you believe in something. Atheists must be sad, sad people because they don't believe in anything and therefore have no hope."
        How many times do we see that here every day?

        June 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
    • nojinx

      Yes, atheist was specified.

      June 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Are they sure this isn't animosity against ppl of a different religion,"
      Pew was measuring polarization, so they asked two questions: one about marrying an atheist, the other about marrying a born again Christian.

      for and immediate family member marrying,
      27% of consistently liberal people would be unhappy with a born again Christian marrying into the family;
      73% of consistently conservative people would be unhappy with an atheist marrying into the family.

      The lop-sided antipathy to atheists was really strong.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:21 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.