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Your e-mails, I-Reports: Is faith under attack?

  • Story Highlights
  • Christiane Amanpour reports in CNN documentary series, "God's Warriors"
  • I-Reporters sent photos of how they worship
  • CNN.com readers share their thoughts on faith, religion and politics
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Editor's note: This is part of a series of reports CNN.com is featuring from a documentary, "God's Warriors," hosted by CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

(CNN) -- Whether or not you count yourself as one of the millions of people who live by faith, what is undeniable is the impact of faith on society and politics throughout the world.

Some believe religion is under attack in modern society. Many others will say the lines have blurred either too much or not enough between religion and politics.

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Julie Colvin, Patrick Peters, and Barbara Peters pray at Thomasville Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida.

We asked CNN.com readers to share their thoughts about faith and the state of religion in the world. Below is a selection of those responses, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.

Amanda Akridge of Macon, Georgia
I believe our country was founded on Christianity and now we live in an anti-Christian country. Morals, faith, and family values have been pushed aside for materialism and "what feels good" antics. We can give freedom to other religions to worship; but prayer and any talks of Christ have been taken out of our schools. I say this because I am a teacher and it is heartbreaking to see what our children go through due to the lack of faith that America was founded upon. I do not have any pictures of how I worship -- I just close my eyes and pray wherever I am and as often as I can.

Thomas McCauslin of Niles, Michigan
I think the lines between faith and politics have become far too blurred. If it was possible to have a Christian nation which would make being a Christian easy, would it truly be worth it? My faith is strong but I understand to truly live right as the Bible says means living against the normal grain. Because of that, I enjoy having a world that is a complete contrast of what I believe. I think religion is under attack and rightfully so because they are simply a symbol of what happens when faith and politics merge and become one single monster.

Michael Rosenberg of New Rochelle, New York
I have faith that one day there will be a world where children are not told untruths. I have faith that one day the majority of people will realize you cannot talk people out of believing improvable and unreasonable things, when you approach them armed with your own improvable and unreasonable beliefs.

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I have faith that one day people will realize that, just because religion MAY be a force for good, that it says nothing about whether there is any truth behind it. I have faith that one day the human race will not have faith in things for which there is no scientific evidence.

I have faith that one day the majority of people will realize that morality can and does exist, independent of religion.

Tyler Justice of Glade Spring, Virginia
I think that the most alarming thing in today's society is not the lack of religious freedom but the lack of tolerance amongst many of the world's major religions. As a Buddhist I feel that we are all brothers and sisters in humanity first and foremost and that our religions should come in second.

Michael Roesch of Weed, California
I am frequently puzzled by the number of friends and acquaintances whose intellectual and emotional boundaries are established by theological dogma.

While Christiane Amanpour sheds a bit of intelligent light on the radicals, I think it is equally important to note that many of the so-called moderate religionists are busy trying to knock down the wall between church and state. I never trust anyone whose virtue and actions are motivated by self-serving fear or religious doctrine. Any thinking person soon realizes through life experiences that integrity and kindness are worthwhile traits rewarded through reciprocity.

Religion, on the other hand, celebrates closed-mindedness and resistance to change--two behaviors the world does not need today.

Bernice Dumitru of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I am deeply committed to my Roman Catholic faith and in coming to know and love God as He is in His essence not in an image of my own making. I am appalled at how little regard religious people can have of others and do it in the name of God.

Scott Oakland of Woodbury, Minnesota
I live by logic and not faith. I don't think religion is under attack but I do think it should be discussed. Too long has religion dwelled under an umbrella of "don't question" and as a result has committed atrocious acts in the name of its gods.

The separation of church and state disappeared when you had to profess you faith in order to hold office, when teaching intelligent design had to go to court to be decided. We as a society have grown beyond the Bronze Age but our adherence to religion has slowed that progress significantly. This country was not founded on religion, but freedom of and also from it.

Monica Jones of Wilmington, Delaware
I am one of the millions of individuals who do not practice any religion. I am a proud non-believer and am far more concerned with religion's encroachment in political matters than its absence. The recent supreme court decision that gives a presidential free pass for faith based initiatives funding is indicative of how far astray the U.S. has come from the Treaty of Tripoli and the stated purpose of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Religion needs to be under attack. It is long overdue. Those who profess to have the absolute understanding of the will of a divine being need to be willing and able to defend their assertions in a public forum. There needs to be proof for the prophesy in order to bind our science and public policy to religious doctrine. Until those proofs are offered, religion needs to be relegated to the realm of mythology where it belongs. The American public should not be called upon to subsidize religion with our tax dollars nor silenced from rigorously challenging its dictates.

James Francis, Jr. of New York City
I am sad. I am a devote Catholic. My girlfriend a devote Pentecostal. We have to deal with issues with family because of our difference in different forms of Christianity. It saddens me to see how much religion is used to hurt others. No one has a monopoly on God. Not Jews, Muslims or Christians. I hope one day, the religious world will understand that.

Victoria Yereance of Cape Coral, Florida
I was baptized a Catholic but what I am is spiritual. I believe in God and also believe that organized religion has interfered with our relationship with God. Three significant religions have significant holy places in one tiny ancient town. All three share similar "story lines" having to do with prophets and God, yet they forget that the one they worship is God, the same God.

Man and his various interpretation of events have led us away from God and down a path of whose prophet (or not) is better. Or which religion has the more direct elevator to heaven. Combine that with a certain amount of ignorance and blind faith and voila -- religious war, again. And all in the name of the same God.

Paul Woodward of Tokyo, Japan
Faith is a wildly overrated virtue. Its results add enormously to the weight of human misery as we humans follow in blind faith, without pause for rational thought, the sacred texts written at a time when we thought we lived on a disc rather than a globe. Faith results, amongst other things, in opposition to stem cell research, the mutilation of the genitalia of infants, the desire to kill homosexuals, the oppression of women, the spread of HIV through religious opposition to the use of condoms and the justification for flying jet planes into skyscrapers. Give me a skeptical enquiring mind any day over one muddled and obscured by faith.

Judith Hall of Mobile, Alabama
God is the most important thing in my life. I practice a constant "spiritual awareness" daily, and feel His presence around me and in me. I rejoice that He loves me so. And I love Him. As I stay focused on God, all other aspects of my life fall into place. Fanatic? Maybe. Perfect? Hardly. Happy, content with my lot in life? Definitely.

Andrea Ouellette of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
I appreciate that you are tackling a very hard subject, faith and our popular culture, and faith differences in general, but as a Christ follower myself, I have to question why our faiths clash so much. Should our main, overall premise be to love one another? I'm only 23 and haven't seen a whole lot of the world yet, but what I have seen of it disgusts me more than anything. I see stories of 5-year old boys being attacked viciously with gasoline and fire and wonder what leads us to not be tolerant of one another.

So I ask this question, why do we not love each other? Do we really have to fight as we do among faiths? Are we not perpetuating unloving attitudes by pitting religions against one another?

John Mertes of Crescent City, California
Back in the early 1960s while reading an essay for a college philosophy class I had enlightenment. I realized that Christianity was false and I abandoned my faith in it. Over several years I purged my thoughts of learned religious responses to various dangers.

Even during the Vietnam War, while sheltering in a bunker during a rocket attack, I had no need for faith or prayer to see me thru. Yes, there are atheists in foxholes, lots of them.

Religion in the U.S. may be under some attack. But mostly, religion is attacking science, logic, rational reasoning and government. The attacks come from "fundicals" (my neologism for fundamentalists and evangelicals) who seek to impose their religious beliefs on all of us and subvert our secular government. We also have an incipient threat from Islam here.

Steven Nathanson of Melville, New York
I observe my faith. However, I do not obsess about it. When one takes their faith too seriously, extremism results. That is a dangerous thing as proven by numerous incidents around the world.

Bruce Currie of Patterson, New York
I believe that purely natural elements created and shaped this planet and the life that exists on it. And that, a long time ago, humans created the notion of a higher power to help explain the unknown. Creating this higher power sort of established an equilibrium in our minds regarding our existence. Unfortunately, this higher power is not truly verifiable and the beliefs surrounding it create strong emotion and volatility.

We have to continue to figure out new ways to merge the commonalities of our beliefs into one faith or we will never have true peace on this planet. We will have to learn to live together under a single faith that does not involve an unverifiable higher power such as a God. We should live together under the faith of the Human Species.

Michele Boy of Syracuse, Kansas
Yes, I live by faith. God teaches me to be more loving and compassionate to all people. Christianity says anyone can love their friends but we are called to bless our enemies.

Matt Johnson of Nampa, Idaho
I do not subscribe to any kind of faith based on superstition or spiritual plane. I think that the universe is a wholly natural environment, and that everything in it has a natural explanation and function. If religion is "under attack," I think it is only because the human species is entering a new era, where our understanding of the world, and our technological advances have caused us to view the universe from a new perspective. The current blurring of religion and politics is in part a fearful reaction by people who wish to keep faith in a position of power. On the other hand, it's not much different now than it has been for centuries.

Richard Elford of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Religion is not under attack, it has been asked to prove what it has been telling the masses but of course it is totally unable to do so. Islam has shown the world what belief without reason can do to the world and gives a glimpse into the stone-age past of Christianity, and the suffering it caused. Christianity cannot prove the existence of God yet it apparently has reason enough to firmly believe that Islam is evil... on what basis?

Richard Sylvan of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Religion is far too prevalent in American society (I'm an American, now living in Canada). I think that it has a great deal of influence on politics, and most of that influence is negative. There are too many things that intensify tribalism and division between peoples -- without religion we would have one less (major) thing to divide us. On the bright side, the world is less religious than it was a century ago, and I hope that a century from now religion will have become irrelevant; a quaint practice indulged in by a few odd people.

Brent Bennett of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Thank you for a very eye opening report. I grew up in a small village on the west coast of Newfoundland where the RC [Roman Catholic] faith was predominant. My father was a fisherman who had faith in God but also in his fellow man; no hate in the name of God but faith none the less. Does that statement sound funny? That's the sum of my faith.

Susan Nguyen of Saratoga, California
As followers of Christ, Christians should nurture His attitude of worldly versus worldly politics. He stated "My kingdom is not of this world" and yet taught His followers to pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." He never espoused violence or political activism to achieve this. In fact, He permitted Himself to be captured and executed.

There is a power greater than politics that will usher in the Kingdom of the God of Love, and that is Love Itself, in His way and in His time. No other power can or should be counted on to enact this marvelous transformation.

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Russell Blackford of Melbourne, Australia
Ideally, we will be better off if religion withers away entirely or becomes a force of only marginal social influence. At the very least, we should hope to see it transformed into something unrecognizably different from what it has been historically.

In any event, we are at a time in history when contesting religion's intellectual and moral authority has become an urgent need. Religion's political ambitions must be challenged, and the best way is to address the roots of the problem: Despite all its pretensions, religion provides a false view of the world and the human situation. This means that we need popular, entertaining, robust critiques of religious belief and its dangers. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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