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Michael Gerson: Becoming a less religious nation brings a host of consequences

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  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    April 1, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    OHBU

    So the bias I saw in your original comment was not an oversight. It was a true expression of your belief that donations to a church are not as charitable as donations to other charities.

    I disagree, and I find such an assertion to be demeaning and prejudiced.

    All organizations have administrative costs. To single those out for churches only, is pure discrimination.

    Your portrayal of where the funds go, for one particular church, is incomplete and inaccurate, and says nothing about any of the other churches.

    Churches are a huge force for good, offering children and troubled youth services, help for struggling families, counseling, and a lot of other services, and are often the first line of help in emergencies, lending their facilities for shelter, with their patrons offering labor and distribution of supplies.

    If any church was failing to meet the government requirements for tax exempt charitable status, I am sure they would have been stripped of the status in short order with so many hateful and biased anti-religious watchdogs eager to discredit them.

    So is your anti-church bias LDS specific, or is it against all churches?

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    April 1, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Badger,

    You're not seeing my point. Let's take the LDS Church as an example, because most people in Utah are familiar with it. Tithing and Fast Offerings count in those statistics. Tithing is used solely for the administrative costs of the church. It is similar to dues paid to any organization. Fast offerings are purely charitable, as are the education fund and other ways of giving. I disagree that every dollar to the church is just as charitable as another charitable organization. Tithing is used for building churches and temples, making lesson plans for church, sending out missionaries, etc. In other words, it is all used internal to the church's own maintenance. In other words, it's self-serving because it is used to build the church and temple you worship in, and provide the lesson materials and budget for your own activities. Other funds are set aside for charitable purchases. But as far as the government is concerned, it's all the same. Unlike churches, charities like the Red Cross or BBBS don't have any other operations besides their charitable work. A higher percentage of your donation goes to actual charity.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    April 1, 2013 11:58 a.m.

    Churches fall under 501(c)(3) just like any other nonprofit charitable organization.

    It seems disingenuous to try to discount donations to churches as being less valid in any way.

    $1 to a church is just as charitable as $1 to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

    The claim "that when donations to churches are removed, the non-religious are far more charitable." is anti-religious.

    If your bias won't let you see it, try the opposite statement:

    "that when donations to non-churches are removed, the religious are far more charitable."

    Now can you see the bias?

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    April 1, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    re: Badgerbadger

    A social organization is one that, by definition, brings people together. You say churches help with physical and spiritual needs. Other organizations help with physical and emotional needs.

    I'm just saying when you give your time and it only benefits the group to which you belong, how is that any different than me giving my time to a local Scandanavian Club, or Chess club? We all put our time and money in, and we all get something out of it. But the government does not allow those monetary donations to count, but religious ones they do. If you could separate out religious donations intended for charity and those that merely went to the maintenance of your organization, I'll call it charity. The statistic in the cited study was taken from tax forms. But the same study pointed out, though the article ignores it, that when donations to churches are removed, the non-religious are far more charitable. In other words, believers are more likely to donate to churches. Not exactly shocking or telling.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    March 31, 2013 9:35 p.m.

    OHBU
    Columbus, OH

    Churches are not social organizations. If that is all you're getting out of yours, you should leave it.

    Churches are people saving organizations. They help people with both physical and spiritual needs, in an effort to help people achieve the best life. That is why they are called charitable organizations.

    If a non-religious organization works for the cause of a charity, they too can get their hours spent for the group, and dues paid in for facilities, counted as donations. I would know, as I belong to just such a group.

    Trying to dismiss the charitable acts of church members, based on the fact that they are religious, seems rather hateful and discriminatory.

  • als Atheist Provo, UT
    March 30, 2013 10:48 p.m.

    Counter Intelligence wrote:

    "Your version of history has little correlation with reality..."

    Based on what you admitted regarding Stalin, Mao and the rest, my point is made. The most you can possibly say is that these people were "failed religionists", but that can hardly be justification for asserting that their atrocities were the result of atheism.

    "...in favor the elimination of all religion as a desired outcome of an egalitarian Communist society, as called for by Karl Marx and his belief that 'religion is the opiate of the masses.'

    You apparently have never read Marx. Marx NEVER called for the elimination of all religion. And the quote about religion being the "opiate" of the masses is taken out of context and does NOT mean he supported the elimination of religion. With too little space here, I will say that anyone who claims that Marx called for the elimination of all religion has no understanding of Marx.

    "...bully tactic that supposes that all atheists are good and religious people are bad, is a bunch of bunk."

    Nobody has advanced any such idea. But many believers continue to advance the horrible idea that only believers can be moral people.

    That's bunk.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 30, 2013 5:48 p.m.

    Mountanman
    Hayden, ID
    The debate between believers and non believers (atheists) eventually comes down to one issue: Judgment day!
    They lived their lives, served humanity and their lives had profound value and meaning because everything believers experienced, everything they learned in their lives and everything they loved belongs to them forever.

    ===========

    The ultimate question you will be asked for every action in the Final Judgement will be -- Why?

    Why, did you serve you family?
    Why, did you help others?
    Why, did you seek and worship riches - while ignoring the poor, the sick, the needy?

    Think about the parable of the Lord, the Servants, and the talents.
    And by what you judge or met to measure others, is how and by what measure you inturn will be measured.

    What you did in life,
    is trumped by WHY you did it, everytime.

    I would rather be surrounded by bleeding heart, alturistic atheists who do not know God, but loved their fellow men,
    Than
    Self-righteous, selfish, greedy, believers,
    who say they do know God, and hated and dispised their fellow man.
    Just goes to show they really didn't know their God at all....

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 30, 2013 5:35 p.m.

    "eventually comes down to one issue: Judgment day! If there is no God and therefore no day of judgment, life has no meaning and nothing matters."

    I think that is a main reason for religion. But, that does not make it true, or false for that matter.

    But, what you hit on is human nature.

    Societies have usually needed "religion". Partly to explain the unexplainable, but possibly because humans would rather believe in life after death than nothing after death.

    Some have asked about the golden rule. Well, we need rules for societies, whether religion exists or not. Stealing may be a commandment, but would cause problems in most societies. Same with lying.

    But, control over other is a common theme in most religions.
    It is one thing to disobey a leader of society, but if they can convince you that their words are straight from God, they become much more difficult to ignore.

    Money is another common thread.

    Anyone ever seen the movie "the invention of lying"?

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    March 30, 2013 2:59 p.m.

    To Mountanman

    Here is a shocking & revolutionary concept. I decide what is right & wrong based on what I've learned from past experiences and.. wait for it... common sense.

    And, for the record, I believe in God not organized religion... I'm a Deist like T Jefferson and others

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 30, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    @ Mister J. ahh yes but who gets to decide what is right or wrong in your world? My point is that if God does not define what is right, whose definition do you accept? Hitler's, Stalin's, Moa Tse Tung's? How about Charles Manson's definition of right or wrong? How about your neighbor? Is his definition of right and wrong the REAL one? How about if we all just made up our own minds what is right and wrong and we all conflict? That would mean that ultimately nothing is right or wrong! Therefore murders, thieves, racists, slave owners and the tax cheaters are not guilty of anything and are in prison for no reason! If not God, whom? That is the problem isn't it? No God =chaos!

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    March 30, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    to joe5 Mar 29 12:21p

    Organized religions impact on mankind IMO is a push.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    March 30, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    to Mountanman 1st post

    Oh, really?

    Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.

    Also, I can't recall where I read it, but... "People use religion for much, mostly to explain their own their own shortcomings….Books filled up by foolish people who don’t want to take control of their own lives. So, they look for some divine providence to explain their desires."

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 30, 2013 6:24 a.m.

    The debate between believers and non believers (atheists) eventually comes down to one issue: Judgment day! If there is no God and therefore no day of judgment, life has no meaning and nothing matters. We live and when we die, everything goes black and everything ends, forever!
    If there is a supreme being (God), there is absolutely a day of judgment and believers gain everything. They lived their lives, served humanity and their lives had profound value and meaning because everything believers experienced, everything they learned in their lives and everything they loved belongs to them forever.
    I am a believer because I can not comprehend or imagine that nothing matters, that creation was an accident and that everything I learn, everything I experience and everything I loved means nothing in the end! That's the difference.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 30, 2013 5:46 a.m.

    @Mountanman
    "Without religious values we will have much more antisocial behavior like the mass murders we have seen recently. ... If you reject religious values, believe you are accountable to no one and believe good and evil are relative, who is to say killing and harming others is wrong?"

    Then why is New Hampshire the least religious state and also the state with the lowest crime rates? Why is Vermont in the top 3 of both of those? Your argument is nothing more than the polarization noted in this article and even as a Christian myself I find it nothing more than an offensive slur against the non-religious to suggest they have no morals.

    "Why they blame guns instead of people with no values and why not?"

    We absolutely blame those people. We just also think that it shouldn't be so easy for those people to acquire weapons without having to go through background checks.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 29, 2013 3:48 p.m.

    @joe5

    No one is denying the America does not have strong religious roots. Not only does it, but one of the two primary reasons the revolution was fought was for religious freedom – why would people fight over something that they didn’t care to practice.

    But every point I made about the Founders stands – and I largely make these points not simply to smack the beehive, but because many on the religious right seem bound and determined to change the facts to fit their narrative.

    It seems a bit silly to play the quote-for-quote game (although not for lack of ammunition on either side). As I said, the Founders were a mixed bag – even individual founders made comments that would support both our views (which is really the point) - like these two from G.W.

    “Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.”

    Or

    “There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 29, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    joe5,

    ".....Yes, the American Red Cross had religious roots. Try again....."
    ______________________________

    I made the point well enough and I believe most informed people know better than to believe that religion has a monopoly on humanitarian efforts. I also believe that they know that unreasoning and intractable fanaticism is not representative of religious people in general.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 29, 2013 2:25 p.m.

    "The article says that nonbelievers donate less money to charity and volunteer less than believers. I believe it because they have given themselves over to the social-darwinist way of thinking - look out for number one."

    --------

    Those statistics are highly flawed, because they count time spent fulfilling church responsibilities and money donated to the upkeep of the church. We spend a lot of time and effort planning events and hosting our neighbors to create a sense of community. Hosting one's neighbors for a movie night would not show up on those statistics. But if I invited my home-teaching family over to watch a church-sanctioned movie, it would count as fulfilling my calling, and therefore as service. On the money issue, when donations to churches are removed, the numbers are actually reversed. A tithe for the upkeep of church facilities is counted in the oft-cited study, but dues for a social organization (serving the exact same function) are not. Perhaps your self back-patting was a bit premature.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 29, 2013 2:09 p.m.

    TylerD: My reference was to 10CC who stated George Washington would be a "none" today. I cited a GW quote (one of many) showing his belief in God (which, by the way, you chose not to address). My comments were made in general since the DesNews editorial board often rejects pointed remarks made to an individual. But, in your case, if the shoe fits ...

    Craig Clark: Clara Barton started the American Red Cross after participating in Europe with the International Red Cross which was started by Henry Dunant. Dunant drifted away from his Calvinist roots in later life but his younger life was full of philanthopic ventures including (for example) the Thursday Association created for young men to study the Bible and aid the poor as well as visiting prisons and doing social work in his free time.

    Interestingly, he came by this trait honestly since his parents stressed the value of social work. His father helped orphans, prisoners, and parolees while his mother worked with the sick and poor.

    Yes, the American Red Cross had religious roots. Try again.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    March 29, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    joe5
    South Jordan, UT
    John Lennon's song is a pretty fair description of the Telestial Kingdom. I think that is what LDS Liberal aspires to. I choose to shoot a little higher than that.

    ===========

    It's comments like that right there that cause over 50% of the Mormons to become the "nones".

    I have yet to meet a Mormon who left the Church over Doctrine,
    But I do know 100% of them who have left because of the good Christ-like "Saints" like Bro. joe5

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 29, 2013 1:34 p.m.

    The purpose of religion is to control people. It is easier and cheaper than military conquest and all you have to have is a good story about life after death. It’s also the most profitable venture ever in the world.

    The reason for religion to control people is to garner and control the people’s wealth. The religion’s plan and program is not too unlike that of other giant corporations. They advertise their group at every opportunity with buildings, special clothing, jewelry, public gestures, public prayer, and millions of other ways.

    While their main draw is the natural fear of death, they use sin to put their prospects at disadvantage and some even think that sin was invented for that purpose.

    Despite all that, people need religion. It helps them get through this sometimes rough, tough and miserable life without resorting to violence. It is the failure of religion to produce the hope so sorely needed that may be the cause of the retreat.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 29, 2013 1:34 p.m.

    joe5,

    "....I challenge anybody to identify one charitable concept or function pioneered by a completely secular organization. I don't believe it exists....."
    ______________________________

    The American Red Cross. It was started by Clara Barton who belonged to no church.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 29, 2013 1:30 p.m.

    @joe5 – “I always laugh when ignorant people claim our Founding Fathers would be "nones" today or were agnostic or even anti-religion in their own day…. There are none so blind as non-believers.”

    Goes both ways Joe… many people spout constantly about how we are a “Christian Nation” (as if we’re one thing) and back that up by saying the exact opposite of what you said above about our Founders.

    Truth is our Founders were a mixed bag. While most were members of a church (perhaps for the same reason most politicians are today), in thought and practice most were either deists, theistic rationalists, or atheists. Thomas Paine was pretty much the Christopher Hitchens of his day.

    But virtually all were united in the view that reason was the path to knowledge and understanding, and they created the first purely secular governing charter in history which has done a fine job so far (despite being regularly tested by the religious right) of protecting us from religious tyranny ever since.

    Some may say I have a splinter in my eye, but I dare say yours contains a mote.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 29, 2013 1:25 p.m.

    The fact that the golden rule is part of so many religions is in no way an argument for or against God. You could say that God inspired it in all religions. You could also say that because religions claim exclusivity, the truth should have been revealed through their leaders and not others.

    There is also an evolutionary explanation for the golden rule, or as its called, altruism. Members of a species most definitely compete for territory, mating rights, etc. But superseding these competitions, is a species' instinct to survive as a unit. Cooperation is the only way to survive and not go extinct. There is a large body of observations of animals of other species, particularly other apes, performing altruistic gestures.

    I'm even more driven to be good to others since I stopped believing in the afterlife. Often in religion, a suffering person is pitied and prayed for. But because the belief is it will all be taken care of in the hereafter, there is a lack of urgency and often people are allowed to suffer needlessly. Please note, religious people also do good, I'm just saying it might not be the religion inspiring that behavior.

  • Big Bubba Herriman, UT
    March 29, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    The article says that nonbelievers donate less money to charity and volunteer less than believers. I believe it because they have given themselves over to the social-darwinist way of thinking - look out for number one.

    Christian believers who practice their religion are truly the salt of the earth.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 29, 2013 12:58 p.m.

    Henry: You might be right. But I do know that Christ instituted a church in his time. He personally called officers in the church and instructed them to go and baptize. If you feel like you have a better plan than his or can improve on his plan, have at it. It's not for me to argue with you.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    March 29, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    I don't know that Church membership and being religious go hand in hand. I understand that may be counter-intuitive to those raised in the Mormon culture, but most of those I know find spiritual fulfillment without a congregation. Being "spiritual but not religious" is a greater trend that being agnostic.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 29, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    bluecoug89,

    ".....People say that atheists, though they don't believe in God, still follow the "golden rule". If they don't believe in God, why is that important? Why have charity for others if it doesn't matter in the end?....."
    ______________________________

    That sounds cynical. People who are truly humanitarian believe that doing good to your fellow man is its own reward. They are the true saints, not those whose main reason for helping others is fear of punishment or hope of reward in the next world.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 29, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    Those who rail against organized religion focus completely on the negatives (and there have been some) but in their blind prejudice, they refuse to acknowledge the positives.

    - The hospitals that have been here the longest bear religious names (Holy Cross, St Mark's, LDS, Primary Children's). That's true across the country and, I don't know for sure, but probably around the world.

    - Orphanages, halfway houses, shelters, food lines, re-hab programs, etc spawned from religion and belief in God. Even if not affiliated with a specific church, they arose from a firm belief in religious principles. Salvation Army, Alcholics Anonymous, YMCA are examples.

    Government has tried to mimic charity but very poorly. They become hamstrung by regulation and process and end up doing more harm than good (witness the abuses surrounding their post-Katrina efforts). The rules are the master rather than the ones who should benefit from their philanthropy.

    I challenge anybody to identify one charitable concept or function pioneered by a completely secular organization. I don't believe it exists.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 29, 2013 12:09 p.m.

    John Lennon's song is a pretty fair description of the Telestial Kingdom. I think that is what LDS Liberal aspires to. I choose to shoot a little higher than that.

    "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors." -George Washington

    I always laugh when ignorant people claim our Founding Fathers would be "nones" today or were agnostic or even anti-religion in their own day. That's just lazy scholarship. They hear it and they want to believe it. They adopt it as an article of faith. Then they start spouting it as if they had done the research themselves. There are none so blind as non-believers.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    March 29, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    There are many good arguments for why the modern ills of the world have little to do with lack of religion, but I will simply suggest you look at Sweden (the most atheistic country in the world) as empirical evidence.

    Granted though the world seems to have many people (cultures?) that are not quite as “evolved” as our Scandinavian brothers and sisters, and who may still need the carrot & stick (eternal reward vs. eternal torture) of religion to keep them in line.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2013 11:45 a.m.

    @LDS Liberal
    "It's guys like you, who push people further and further away from it."

    Thats interesting - because I do not belong to any church - including yours
    Imagine that - the "none" defending relgion and the "member" condemning it: So once again - why are you a member of something you seem to detest?

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 29, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    Counter Intelligence
    Salt Lake City, UT
    @LDS Liberal
    "The more true John Lennon's song "Imagine" becomes....'
    So what you are saying is that you really are not LDS because you imagine no religion – including the one you claim – but routinely put down

    ===========

    There is no religion in Zion.
    There is no religion in Heaven.

    Religion is an organization, not a doctrine.
    Try living the doctrine (gospel) of the church, and stop living by it's religion (culture).

    FYI - It's guys like you, who push people further and further away from it.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    March 29, 2013 11:08 a.m.

    @bluecoug89
    Highland, UT
    "If they don't believe in God, why is that important? Why have charity for others if it doesn't matter in the end?

    So aren't you, in effect, following the teachings of a God that you don't even believe in?

    where do you get the idea to treat others with kindness and respect if not from God since human nature is really the exact opposite (altruism is hardly seen in the natural world)?

    I guess I'm trying to understand how you fully seperate yourselves from God?"

    Did not the Native Americans greet many of the first explorers like Columbus and the Pilgrims with charity? They had a very different religious belief than the God you're speaking of.

    There is good in people's hearts. It doesn't take God for people to want to help one another. How do you think we've survived for so long? Religion came about WAY later than the first humans. Do you think they survived solely by killing and walking over one another? We formed groups, families, and structures to rely on one another.

  • bluecoug89 Highland, UT
    March 29, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    I'm fine with someone being atheist but I do have a question. People say that atheists, though they don't believe in God, still follow the "golden rule". If they don't believe in God, why is that important? Why have charity for others if it doesn't matter in the end? Also, the whole "golden rule" thing (treating others with kindness, respect, etc.)is found basically in any religion (Chirstianity,Judaism etc.) and is the product of the teachings of God. So aren't you, in effect, following the teachings of a God that you don't even believe in? I could see you getting these ideas if you grew up with a religious background but if you didn't, where do you get the idea to treat others with kindness and respect if not from God since human nature is really the exact opposite (altruism is hardly seen in the natural world)? Also, some would say that they're following social expectations, but these expectations that you're following are direct results of religion and God. I guess I'm trying to understand how you fully seperate yourselves from God? It seems pretty tough to me.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2013 10:53 a.m.

    @LDS Liberal
    "The more true John Lennon's song "Imagine" becomes....'
    So what you are saying is that you really are not LDS because you imagine no religion – including the one you claim – but routinely put down

    @als Atheist
    Your version of history has little correlation with reality.
    Stalin and Mao Tse Tung, were raised with some religious training - but rejected it, in favor the elimination of all religion as a desired outcome of an egalitarian Communist society, as called for by Karl Marx and his belief that "religion is the opiate of the masses."

    Hitler was raised Catholic, but rejected it in favor of rationalist and a materialist viewpoints. He viewed Christianity as a religion fit for slaves, and a rebellion against the natural law of selection and survival of the fittest. He sought to purge Christianity of its Jewish influences.

    Adam Lanza and Jared Lee were just messed up.

    I agree that all atheists should not be painted with the broad brush of the atrocities of other atheists, yet the facts do prove the politically correct bully tactic that supposes that all atheists are good and religious people are bad, is a bunch of bunk.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 29, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    I agree that great violence is not necessarily correlated to religion or the lack thereof.

    Reference the "great" mass murders - a few quotes from the Wiki folks:

    Stalin:
    Raised in the Georgian Orthodox faith, Stalin became an atheist. He followed the position adopted by Lenin that religion was an opiate that needed to be removed . . .

    Pol Pot:
    The Khmer Rouge also classified people by religion . . . They banned all religion and dispersed minority groups . . . They especially targeted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christians, Western-educated intellectuals . . .

    Mao:
    His wife, Wen Qimei, was a devout Buddhist who tried to temper her husband's strict attitude. Zedong became a Buddhist, venerating a bronze statue of the Buddha, but abandoned this faith in his mid-teenage years.

    Hitler is difficult to pigeon hole but this is cogent:
    The adult Adolf Hitler was a rationalist and a materialist, who saw Christianity as a religion fit for slaves, and a rebellion against the natural law of selection and survival of the fittest. Raised a Catholic, Hitler had some respect for the 'great position' of that church, but became deeply hostile to its teachings.

    So the record on these folks is pretty clear. Whatever religion they had was rejected.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    So what does becoming 'more' religious lead to?

    From our own Deseret news:

    **'Boy, 15, reprimanded for backing traditional family in school paper' - By Joshua Bolding, Deseret News - 01/27/12

    'He (Wegner) also quoted scriptures like Leviticus 20:13: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to DEATH...' – article

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    March 29, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    @Mountanman

    "What if they had been taught some religious values?"

    Then they could have been manipulated to kill for God like Crusaders, modern day Muslims (some), or used it to justify slavery and other atrocities.

    Nut jobs are nut jobs ... killers are killers ... if they say it's for God or because there is no God then we can attribute it to religion. Otherwise it's a road to nowhere.

    "I think that is a huge over statement on your part given the slaves were freed by Abraham Lincoln a devotedly religious man!"

    Lincoln has MANY quotes showing his non-interest in traditional Christianity. What's my favorite you ask? Gladly I'll tell you!

    "When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion. "

    What a wonderful way to live?

    While others are justifying slavery through Christianity, Lincoln was abolishing it because it felt wrong. Wonderful ... intuition ... logic ... beauty.

  • als Atheist Provo, UT
    March 29, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    Mountanman

    Your version of history has little correlation with reality.

    None of the persons you list - Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Harris (Columbine), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) or Jared Lee - were known to be atheists. indeed, history and records demonstrate that every one of them were raised in religion and WERE "taught some religious values". the murders and atrocities these people committed can only be blamed on atheism if one is completely divorced from facts and reality.

    Please try not to paint with such a broad, condemning brush. It suggests you may have lost touch with Jesus' teachings (Matt. 7:1) (and then would you blame that sin on your own atheism?)

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 29, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    Mountainman:

    There are examples of truly evil monsters from a variety of religious backgrounds, including "Nones". Not to diminish the role played by Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc, there have been many murders committed in the name of religion, including the Christian Crusades, the many widespread injustices done in the name of "Christianizing and uplifting the savages" as nations engaged in conquest, slavery, etc. Some of this history is close to home, as the tension between LDS settlers and Native Americans culminated in the Bear River Massacre in the late 1800s, after which some Saints exclaimed "our prayers have been answered".

    If you think about the history of religion, especially the three "religions of the book" (in chronological order) Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it seems religions seem to settle down after some period of fervent belief in converting others, sometimes violently. 9-11 was maybe the most recent example, from the Muslims, who are 500 years "younger" than Christianity.

    Without question the "Nones" have their own share of atrocities.

    Mass murderers are more typically explained as psychotics, who I suspect have organic brain disorders, like Ted Bundy and this kid from Newtown.

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    March 29, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    A list of "nones" who have done evil invites a list of zealots who have done evil in the name of religion. It's a dead end to talk of extremes. Do unto others and mind your own business. The folks I attend church with are very good at the former, not so good at the latter. The takeaway here is that we've gone from 20% religious at our founding to 50% now. An obvious upward trend no matter your persuasion.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 29, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    Becoming a less religious nation has a host of consequences. And they're all good. We're maturing as a nation and society, and more and more of us realise we are good, moral people without the need for the guilt and fear religion tries to impose. Religion has proven itself quite capable and willing to divide us, and it has shown time and again no exclusivity on morality. As it is I don't necessarily believe there isn't a god. But the hucksters and charlatans the claim to be gods reps among us do nothing to argue in gods' favour.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 29, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    The older I get -
    The more true John Lennon's song "Imagine" becomes....

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    March 29, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    I figure religion is to keep good people good, so I can only imagine what it could be like if there isn't any.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 29, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    @ 10CC. History offers us many examples of "none- agnostics and atheists who have NOT played important roles for good in society. Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, among others who did not see anything evil in what they did and they all had something in common-not relgious. What other explanation do you have for people like Eric Harris (Columbine), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) or Jared Lee Loughner (Gabrielle Gifford) who apparently saw nothing wrong with what they did. What if they had been taught some religious values? As far as your view that atheists are the first to see suffering from persecution, slavery or racial discrimination or plight of the gays (what plight is that?) I think that is a huge over statement on your part given the slaves were freed by Abraham Lincoln a devotedly religious man! As was Martin Luther King, as was most (not all) of those in history who fought for justice.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 29, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Institutional Christianity may be showing signs age fatigue but the messages of Jesus continue to transcend all things institutional, as they did from the start. Christianity has weathered many changes in the past two millenia, the fall of Rome, the rise of European states, the Muslim challenge from the East, the 11th century schism, the 16th century Reformation which at the time must have seem like Christianity coming apart at the seams.

    Every crisis may seem like the end for a time but it always gives way to renewal and rebirth. That's the hopeful message to keep in mind this Easter weekend.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    March 29, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    ""None"-Believers, Agnostics and Atheists are usually the first to see suffering from religiously sanctioned persecution, such as slavery, racial discrimination, and now the plight of gays.

    So, we play an important role in society."

    Well said ... a very important part in a free society.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 29, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    Mountainman:

    When I was a kid I thought atheists had to be unrestrained, selfish, immoral hedonists who would do anything to maximize their own pleasure and didn't care about others. What incentive do they have to be nice to others? There's nothing after this life, so grab every ounce of selfish pleasure you can, right?

    Having met and known more than a few real atheists (who are really agnostics who're not optimistic about the prospects after this life), I've found them to be quite moral people, very concerned about others and sympathetic / empathetic to the struggles people go through.

    They're often charity-minded and follow the Golden Rule.

    The more we study other primates, the more we realize they also quite charitable and help each other. Other species of animals do the same thing. It seems to be in their DNA, which isn't to diminish how we help each other, or learn to grow in caring for each other.

    "None"-Believers, Agnostics and Atheists are usually the first to see suffering from religiously sanctioned persecution, such as slavery, racial discrimination, and now the plight of gays.

    So, we play an important role in society.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    March 29, 2013 8:04 a.m.

    "Nones" have always been around, though like many of us today, they were raised in a religious background. Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and George Washington either were Nones in their day, or might certainly be Nones today. Mark Twain was a None, certainly.

    Nones aren't really evangelical or on a mission for converts, but we'll support others who want to escape what may feel like an onerous upbringing they find problems with. Today those include many Gays and Lesbians, it seems "their time" has come.

    Many of us aren't hostile toward religion or religionists, but we also don't see any religion as being superior to another, which can probably feel like opposition or lack of respect to those who are trying to bring us back into the fold, or convince us that we should join their congregation.

    "Live and Let Live" and the Golden Rule are the unspoken rules of Nones.

    I've been to many, many different types of religious congregations and meetings, including LDS, Catholic, all kinds of Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist. I respect them all.

    Nones are far more likely to believe there are multiple "good paths" in this life.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 29, 2013 7:31 a.m.

    One of the purposes of religion is to teach people how to behave correctly toward each other, themselves and God and that we are all accountable to God for our behavior. Without religious values we will have much more antisocial behavior like the mass murders we have seen recently. Whom do the secular progressive, anti religious, everything is relative, do your own things but don't judge me people of our day blame? Why they blame guns instead of people with no values and why not? If you reject religious values, believe you are accountable to no one and believe good and evil are relative, who is to say killing and harming others is wrong?