God in America
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Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? -- Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? -- Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? -- Then where does evil originate? Is he neither able nor willing? -- Then why call him God?

How Do You Imagine God?
God in America and USA WEEKEND Magazine are partnering to explore Americans' images of God.

How do you imagine God? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I do not believe in a God or a higher diety. If there is a god, I view him as an uncaring, unloving, unjust, unfair, highly biased egotistical megalomaniac.

My Beliefs

I believe ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I believe that in the beginning, all the matter that makes up our universe was at one point of singularity. One tiny, infantismal speck, that suddenly exploded to the eventual massive size that is our universe. While I do not claim to know how or why it happened, I do not believe a supreme intelligence caused it.
My most powerful moment of belief was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I don't think I've ever had a powerful moment of belief. Nothing that would make me an undoubting believer.
My greatest moment of doubt was ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I was approximately 14 and was going to a youth group at a local church. We were going over the beginning of the bible, recounting the miracles that took place in Genesis. Continued on to cover Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. I asked the pastor a question. At the time that Cain murdered Abel, Adam and Eve were already banished from the Garden of Eden and the punishment Cain faced from God was to be banished away from Adam and Eve. There were 4 humans on the face of the entire planet and with Abel murdered, that left 3, with one of them being banished away from the other two. Yet, whom did Cain speak of when he feared someone would encounter him and kill him, which resulted in God marking his forehead. Whom was it that Cain made his wife and started the tribe of Israel?
My spiritual life means... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator While I do not believe there is a God or Heaven or Hell, that does not mean I disbelieve in a spiritual world. Much like Native Americans believed that everything has a soul, I believe that all life is sacred. If an animal is to be killed for its meat, to use as much of that animal as possible. Whilst killing that animal as quickly and painlessly as possible. My spiritual life means respecting my surrounding world and everything inside of it. Live peacefully with nature and live a sustainable lifestyle that does not cause excess harm.
The biggest misconception about my faith/belief system is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator That because I believe in a spiritual world that I also believe in God. I believe in no god.
My spiritual role model is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Native Americans are my spiritual role models. They lived peacefully with the land for many many years. Farming and hunting and fishing, living a sustainable life style that gave back just as much as they took. I highly respect that and wish to do so myself.
The tenet/practice/teaching I appreciate most about my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Respect all life.

My Faith History

As a child I believed ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I grew up in a Christian home, while I do not know the exact denomination, I attended church regularly, went to bible studies, said my prayers before bed and meals.
My spiritual journey has been ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Long and tough. Claiming I was an atheist relieved some of the stress and burdons placed upon me by the church, worshipping an egotistical god that demanded so much from his followers and unjustly punished them to an eternity in hell just for not believing in him. I am still spiritual but not religious.
I was raised as ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator A Christian
Are your beliefs or practices different from your parents? If so, how and why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes, very much so. They are still Christians while I am an atheist.
If you have children, did becoming a parent change your relationship to faith? If so, how? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I do not have children but I would raise them to question everything and to keep an open mind. If they find religion and it makes them happy, it would be done so after they've examined it with firm logic. I do not want my children to be blind unquestioning undoubting followers.

How I Practice My Faith

Where and when do you practice your faith? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Everywhere and all the time.
Does your family practice more than one religion or faith? If so, how do you blend the traditions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My family are all Christians except for two that are also atheists.
How easy or difficult is it to live your faith? Why? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Extremely easy. Respect all life. Although I do not like to call it "my faith", "my lifestyle" feels better. The word "faith" to me incites negativity.
In my house, the thing that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator No one thing specifically represents my belief system.
The song/book/film that most represents my faith is ... your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator No one book or movie that I have read or watch represents my belief system.

Religion & the Public Square

What should be the role of religion in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator None. Religion has no place in politics in my opinion. Our government was founded on the belief of freedom of religion. Bringing religion into politics defies that as it specifically ties itself to one religion. I do not care if the politicians are religious but they should keep religion out of politics.
Should courses about religion be taught in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As electives, yes. Mandatory, no.
Should the Bible, Torah, Quran or other religious texts be taught as works of literature in public schools? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator As long as they aren't taught as fact and taught as merely books. Then I have no problems with it, but don't invoke intelligent design in science class just as science isn't invoked in bible class.
Is interfaith dialogue important? Why or why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator Yes, I believe so. Melding the religions will truly bring about world peace. However I fear that is just a fleeting dream that I will never witness.
Do you feel comfortable discussing your faith with others? Why/why not? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator I have no problems discussing my belief system. However, if people start getting aggitated and angry or try forcing their beliefs upon me, I will stop. I do not force my beliefs upon anyone and I feel that people should not force their beliefs upon others.
Do you feel that you have a duty, because of your faith, to put your beliefs into action? What are some of those actions? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator My belief system is simply to respect life. If I hunt or fish and take a life, then I will honor the animal by using as much of it as possible. I won't hunt or fish for sport or for a trophy animal.
Are religious beliefs compromised by engaging in politics? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator No. My beliefs are simply to respect life. I feel everyone should do that to begin with. My beliefs include ALL life. Not just human life.
Has 9/11 had any impact on your thoughts about religion? Are you more/less interested in learning about other religions? Do you feel more/less comfortable expressing your religious beliefs? your photo/ link/ video has been held for approval by a moderator 9/11 has had no impact on my opinions on religion. I have firmly believed organized religion holds the forward progress of our society for many years prior to 9/11. I have studied other religions and people are so stubborn that they do not understand the striking similarity between religions. Each religious person claims their beliefs as true and fervently deny others beliefs and claim they will suffer eternal damnation for having a different belief. I believe the bible was written as a childrens book to teach kids morals and ethics and give them a role model in Jesus. However things were taken way to far and a religion formed around it. It would be much like people forming a religion around Nursery Rhymes because they teach children not to lie or cheat or steal and be kind to others.

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Major funding for God in America provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John E. Fetzer Institute, Inc.  Additional funding provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. God in America is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.
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Published October 11, 2010

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