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I Sure Don't Want to Go to Hell': Is Ted Turner's Outspoken Agnosticism Opening a Bit to Faith?

"When I have a friend that's dying of cancer, I say a prayer for them...to whoever is listening."

(Image source: CNN)

Billionaire icon and famously outspoken agnostic Ted Turner discusses many topics in a lengthy feature by CNN writer Ann O'Neill, not the least of which is perhaps an evolving spirituality.

(Image source: CNN)

Turner admittedly has been openly antagonistic toward religion, Christianity in particular, perhaps due to growing up with it and even dreaming in his youth of being a missionary, CNN noted.

But his little sister, Mary Jean, suffered from a rare form of lupus and endured complications that left her with brain damage and screaming in pain for five years until she died.

"She was sick for five years before she passed away. And it just seemed so unfair, because she hadn't done anything wrong," he told CNN. "What had she done wrong? And I couldn't get any answers. Christianity couldn't give me any answers to that. So my faith got shaken somewhat."

More from CNN:

He once walked into the CNN newsroom on Ash Wednesday and, spotting several staffers with smudges on their foreheads, blurted out, "What are you? A bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox."

He has said famously that "Christianity is a religion for losers," even though some of his closest friends have a deep and profound faith.

"He knew I was a Christian when he said that," said former President Carter. "Ted had a tendency to say things like that just to be provocative. And to stir people's interest. But later he retracted that statement."

Carter continues to hope his friend will someday "have a profound religious experience."

He revised the Ten Commandments in favor of Eleven Voluntary Initiatives, CNN reported, and took to environment and humanistic causes.

But O'Neill writes that while Turner remains a skeptic, these days "he keeps the door open a crack. He allows for the possibility."

"When I have a friend that's dying of cancer, I say a prayer for them," he told CNN, directing it to "whoever is listening."

Then he hears a statement from his ex-wife Jane Fonda, in which she says Turner will get to heaven.

In response he told CNN: "Well, I sure don't want to go to hell."

You can read the entire CNN feature story here.

Ted Turner: The Maverick Man" airs on CNN Sunday 7 p.m. ET.

Here's the promo from CNN via YouTube:

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