home
RSS
Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists
Minister-turned-atheist Jerry DeWitt speaks at ReasonFest in Kansas earlier this year.
June 13th, 2012
10:47 AM ET

Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his preacher job. “If you don’t believe, then you will be like me - you’ll suddenly find yourself where you only have two choices,” DeWitt told a group in Johnson County, Kansas, earlier this year.

“You can either be honest that you don’t believe ... or you can pretend that you do,” he said. “Which is what so many people are doing and that is called faith.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The transition from preacher to outspoken atheist has not been easy, and DeWitt is trying to smooth the way for other former believers. He is executive director of Recovering from Religion, an organization founded in 2009. Its slogan: “Thousands of organizations will help you get INTO religion, but we’re the only one helping you OUT.”

But a relatively new effort goes a step further than his own group by focusing on helping clergy in particular. In March 2011, a coalition that includes national groups such as American Atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Richard Dawkins Foundation helped launch the Clergy Project, which is aimed at giving doubting and atheist preachers a community in which they can talk about their disbelief.

The program's ultimate goal: to help unbelieving preachers to “come out” in real life.

A safe online community

The Clergy Project’s key component is a private online community of active and former pastors discussing their conversions to lives of active disbelief. It lets congregational leaders come out anonymously, using an alias.

“It is important to focus on any group of people who are in a lot of pain,” said Linda LaScola, a co-founder of the Clergy Project. “That is why the Clergy Project exists, and it wouldn’t be growing if there wasn’t a need for it.”

When it launched last year, 52 clergy signed up for the online community, according to LaScola. A little more than a year later, 270 members are contributing to the message boards and connecting anonymously with one another.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

According to LaScola, the community includes some rabbis, imams and Catholic priests, but the majority are Protestants.

Members are barred from disclosing what is discussed on the boards, but DeWitt said it’s a blend of humor, advice and encouragement. DeWitt, who left his congregation just over a year ago, is considered the group’s first graduate.

“It gave me confidence to come out,” DeWitt said of the Clergy Project. “Knowing that I was not alone, that I was not a fluke, that I was not a freak of religious nature, but that this is a process; it most definitely gave me confidence and a purpose.”

Jerry DeWitt, far right, in his days as a minister.

DeWitt said that after connecting with people on the message boards, he realized he faced fewer obstacles than some others who are trying to leave the ministry. For example, DeWitt's wife and son already knew about his disbelief, while other questioning preachers had not yet told their families.

“I think it is important when you are struggling that you talk it out, that you write about it, that you find support,” said Teresa MacBain, acting executive director of the Clergy Project. “I still try to reach out to people who are questioning, who are doubting, clergy people and laypeople alike, and let them know they are not alone, that there are people who care.”

How does he feed his family?

For 44 years, MacBain was involved in some sort of ministry, from organizing worship music to being a senior pastor at a Methodist church in Florida.

At a recent American Atheists convention in North Bethesda, Maryland, MacBain first publicly announced her atheism, inspiring a roaring round of applause. American Atheists President David Silverman walked onstage and hugged her as MacBain began to cry.

"I was the one on the right track, and you were the ones that were going to burn in hell," MacBain told the crowd. "And I'm happy to say as I stand before you right now, I'm going to burn with you."

She said she sees plenty of growth potential in the Clergy Project. In the near future, she said she hopes to incorporate it as a nonprofit and begin raising funds for clergy who have decided to leave ministry jobs. She also wants to compile a group of employment recruiters to help former clergy find new jobs.

DeWitt, for his part, is struggling financially and said his house could be foreclosed on in the next few months.

For former preachers in search of work, their old skills can be hard to translate into new fields. What references do former ministers use if they have disappointed their congregants by leaving the pulpit?

MacBain said that some “formers,” as she calls ex-clergy, have left their hometowns for new jobs in fields ranging from radio to counseling.

To aid those transitions, Recovering from Religion has started the Clergy Professional Relief Fund, dedicated to “helping ex-ministers have a soft landing after coming out of the ministry.” Though little money has been collected so far, the hope is to help former ministers with job training and relocation expenses.

“Even if you have a degree in divinity, that doesn’t really mean anything,” DeWitt said. “That is the biggest fear that a nonbelieving clergy member has. How does he feed his family?”

Losing faith, losing friends

As a young fresh-faced minister, DeWitt was first confronted with his disbelief when he “became the person who got the burden of preaching about hell,” he said. “I really loved the people I preached to, I loved them like family. So imagine preaching that if you don’t do this, you are going to burn in hell. That wasn’t easy for me.”

After doubt about hell, DeWitt began to research other schools of thought about God and belief. He began to develop other doubts, about certain biblical translations and about healing.

“The next big issue was the failure of prayer,” DeWitt said. “People are passing away, whenever we pray for them to live. People aren’t getting jobs, whenever we pray for them to have jobs.

“The harder we tried to alleviate suffering within our church, it seemed like the worse things got,” he said. “It didn’t seem like prayer made any difference. It just continually crushed my heart.”

When DeWitt decided to come out as an atheist, some in his congregation appeared shocked.

“I was very heartbroken actually because his family means so much to me; they are actually like family,” said Natosha Davis, 30, who attended DeWitt’s church for four years. “I was very heartbroken for him that he had to go through that and struggle.”

Many congregants were less charitable. “Some people where he lives just totally turned their backs on him,” Davis said. “He was ostracized, excommunicated. It is like he has a disease, but he doesn’t.”

When DeWitt runs into people he used to preach to, he still averts his eyes. Going to the post office and to Walmart, he said, can be stressful because of the possibility of running into a former congregant.

“It is because places in which you were once admired now you are suddenly scorned or pitied,” DeWitt said, who admits not having many friends anymore. “It makes for an extremely uncomfortable life.”

And yet DeWitt said his atheist life mirrors his old religious one in some key respects. In some ways, he said, he’s still a minister.

“The origin of the symmetry is me, is my personality, my love for people, my love for ministering,” DeWitt said. “What I have always tried to do is to minster from where I personally am at.

“When I was 17, I preached what I believed was best for people at the time; when I was 20, it was a little different; at 25 it was different, too,” he said. “And now at 42, I am still the same guy preaching what I see is best for people.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity

soundoff (5,298 Responses)
  1. crownme

    He must have applied logic and reasoning

    June 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • RapidOne

      Religion is good... until people use it to control other MUCH DUMBER people, causing pain, chaos and havoc - such as with the GOP and religious right in the U.S. and Taliban, Sharia Law, clerical overlords in the middle east, etc etc...

      The bottom line: we will always have religion, spirituality or faith, that is human nature. We need education and reasonable governance and everything will be better.

      Do you know who is constantly trying to destroy education in the U.S. ??? That's right, the GOP. Put 2 and 2 together people.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • briffault

      LoL, and there's the typical scholarly answer from someone who thinks the rest of the world is crazy for having their own beliefs. Tell you what, if you can convince people that God doesn't exist by using something other than quotes you've learned from other people, or showing exactly why people who believe in God are not logical, I'll be amazed. I can't say for sure if God exists because I haven't died, how the hell can you?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @briffault – I'll prove that to you, as soon as you prove to me that there are no tiny invisible unicorns living in your shower.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  2. Paul

    An honest religious person of course has doubts. The worst dogma in my opinion is that the Bible is somehow the word of God. One is required by "faith" to believe that God repeatedly told various old testamant characters to go into the next village and slay every living thing....man, woman, child, cat, dog and donkey. That is terrorism. (Oh, no, its O.K., God told me to do it!) So try to get "religious" people to rennounce terrorism. On a lighter note, Mr. DeWitt's experience is somewhat similar to the late great Sam Kinnison's.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  3. hemplover

    "Faith" is an opinion.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • KEITH

      FAITH IS A "CHOICE" THAT WE ALL HAVE REGARDLESS. EVERYONE HAS FAITH IS SOMETHING OR SOMEONE. YOU MAY THINK IT IS AN OPINION. EVERYONE HAS FAITH SOMEHOW.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Kafir

      Good point, Keith. I have faith that people will ultimately shed religion in favor of logic an reasoning. Let's just hope it's not a naive faith, similar to the faith I see around here.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  4. KEITH

    Chrisitianity is not just a religion. It is a relationship Jesus Christ. I choose to believe the Bible for what it does say. If others choose not to that is there choice. We all have choices and I choose Jesus. I am not hurting anyone by believing in His Word or what He has done for me. Everyone can believe what they may but in the end I still choose what my heart sees to be true. Everyone else has the same choice. I just pray that we all make the choice that is right.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Adam

      "I am not hurting anyone by believing in His Word"

      Thats true until you give money to a church. Or vote based on what your church says.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Kafir

      Tell us, Keith, what is your stance on gay marriage?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @Kafir – apparently Keith and Jesus are pretty close... maybe he's ready to be the "bride of Christ" – if you know what i mean.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Kafir

      Haha *shudders*

      June 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  5. Wonder

    Never was man of God – he only wants attention from everyone yes a con artist looking to make some money

    June 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Kafir

      That means any current "man of god" may be an atheist in hiding. You'll never know until they're on their death bed. So, who's really a "man of god" then?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      If he was a con-artist looking to make money, he would still be in the ministry. That's where the money is afterall – just ask Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  6. hemplover

    Science flies humans to the moon. Religion flies them into buildings.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • matt

      Did you make that one up all by yourself?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • crownme

      +1

      June 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Lol! You seem to have forgotten that Jim Lovell, William Anders, and Frank Borman all took turns reading from the Old Testament book of Genesis on Christmas eve during the Lunar sunrise. Oh the irony.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  7. Ax

    Whatever floats your boat. Plenty of other things to get jacked up about these days.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • MateoinSLC

      I love reading the "rush to judgement" post from the "judge not less ye be judged" crowd. And I love the "its easy being an Atheist" comments, that's grand. The Theist is the one who has it all figured out and general acceptance in society. I mean when you die you know you'll go to this magical place and live with the guy who died for your sins and his dad and the Holy Ghost... or they are all one dude (depending upon your Dogma I suppose). And if you believe and pray everything is hunky dory. For the Atheist or Agnostic, reality is all you have to rely on. Reality is not the defult thinking as we have genetically evolved to believe we're invincible, that we'll live forever somehow, it's the reason why we pepetuate as a species who has the ability to reason. It's no easy task shaking that off and realizing that perhaps you will likelly not live forever as there is no proff to that end.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  8. OnlyOne

    God, the one he doesn't believe in, will understand. Christians? they likely won't.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Paul

      I am literally laughig out loud! You nailed it!

      June 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • MateoinSLC

      God made them Atheist

      June 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  9. Shuffler

    So in reality he is not a preacher and never has been. We usually refer to them as con artist. He's in it for the money and nothing else.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • BobR

      Like others that believe in fairy tales, you're poorly educated. The article clearly states he's hurting for money and you couldn't grasp that.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • MateoinSLC

      Organized religion is one big con/Ponzi scheme. All the money flows up to the top (of the organization) and those at the bottom (the congregation) get loads of lip service but no benefit for their investment.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • oodalolly

      MateoinSLC – The congregation gets their reward after they die. Quite brilliant scheme actually! No one can come back to say if they were swindled LOL

      June 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • JOEL OSTEEN

      Preach on brother! I was tempted by all that Atheist money a long time ago, but for God, I gave all that up to live a life of sorrow and struggle. (wink, smile)

      June 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • No

      Get a grip. Seriously, wake UP! He left his JOB and currently does not have a job! If he was a con artist he could have just stayed in the ministry and sold some miracle water or something and made millions like so many of your phony people. Do you even have any idea how much money some of the revered christian pastors are making?! Please – educate yourself. For the sake of the world.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  10. WDinDallas

    Typical of an Atheist. Untrustworthy.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • ReasonOverBlindSheep

      Right and all of these pastors at these mega churches raking in millions of dollars are trustworthy as well. Gimmie a break you moron.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • doughnuts

      Go ask your preacher about it when he gets done beating up his daughter.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • MateoinSLC

      typical of someone who is uneduated, sweeping generalizations.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Brian

      Why would an atheist be less trustworthy than a person who is at least outwardly proclaiming themselves to be a Christian?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • IsThisaJoke

      Lol @ Doughnuts!!

      June 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Has anyone seen my copy of 50 Shades of Gr.... Ummmm I mean, The Bible????

      June 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  11. Jack

    Hello. Everyone is invited to visit thestarofkaduri.com

    June 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  12. JellyBean@Jerry DeWitt

    That took a lot of damn courage sir. My hat is off to you. A lot of folks would have just lived in painful silence to keep the paycheck coming in. Best of wishes to you and your family.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Sorry to burst your bubble JellyBean, it's easy to be an atheist with no direction, no concerns, no care in the world except what's in it for you ... aka unrighteous (what is good for you only and who cares about any one else) outcomes. It takes courage to be a Christian to love and follow Jesus' truth to learn, comprehend and apply His wisdom of righteous outcomes (what is good for you as well as all concerned) in life.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Primewonk

      HeavenSent posts more lies.

      Atheists do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. We do the right thing without the threat of eternal torture.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Recovering From Religion

      Thanks for the kind words, we truly appreciate the outpouring of support for Jerry!

      June 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • OOO

      Heaven Sent obviously doesn't know any atheists.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • mickey1313

      @heaven sent, except you forget atheists are the most discriminated group on earth. People who know there is no magic djinn floating above us mandating behavior, who are good because it is right, not because they are concerned with a mystic soul. Grow up and leave intelligent discourse to those not brain washed by the church

      June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • JellyBean@HeavenSent

      No bubble to burst here, HS. Did you even read the CNN story about Jerry DeWitt?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • just sayin

      HeavenSent

      Sorry to burst your bubble JellyBean, it's easy to be an atheist with no direction, no concerns, no care in the world except what's in it for you ... aka unrighteous (what is good for you only and who cares about any one else) outcomes. It takes courage to be a Christian to love and follow Jesus' truth to learn, comprehend and apply His wisdom of righteous outcomes (what is good for you as well as all concerned) in life.

      --

      You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. To be a Christian is quite easy compared to walking away from it. From your posts you really do not have a good sense of reality.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Tim Milligan

      Dear HeavenSent,

      I have direction, I have morals, I help people, My behavior is based on doing the right thing because it's right, not because if I don't I will "burn in hell". I don't believe in Ghosts, Goblins, or Gods. All fairy tales. From your writings I can see you live in a very closed unenlightened world. If I was religous I would pray for you! You need it! Tim

      June 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • doughnuts

      You're not very bright, are you, HeavenSent?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • dman

      Heavenly Sent if you had ever had to wrangle with an existential problem of this magnitude you might understand just how insulting and uninformed your hateful comment is. It takes more courage to believe in yourself and your fellow man than it does to hang onto a belief that has outlived its usefulness,

      June 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Living History

      @Heaven Sent – Did God give the commandment "Thou shalt not steal" because stealing is wrong, or is stealing wrong because God said not to?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Brian

      @heavensent: It's stupid to assume that someone who is an atheist is going through life "with no direction, no concerns, no care in the world except what's in it for [themself]." (Moreover, such an arrogant comment is unchristian.) Morals and ethics predate the Christian religion. Aside from the many decent, moral people in the world who do not believe in any god or gods, there are decent, moral people of other faiths besides Christianity.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  13. just sayin

    God Bless him!

    June 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Recovering From Religion

      Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer. 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  14. kindness

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    June 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Huebert

      "Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ."

      The last part of this truly jumped out at me. You're asking that I make my reasoning and observations subservient to 2000 year old theology that has been edited, translated, and mistranslated. Not to mention that their is no evidence supporting the existence of god. Why would anyone do that?

      June 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Huebert – this is an ignorant troll who posts the exact same shît multiple times on multiple boards on multiple days. If possible, this putz is even MORE pathetic than our usual fundamentalist idiots.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • .

      When ever you see this post click the report abuse link to get rid of this garbage.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Amen Kindness as you post Jesus' light.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Recovering From Religion

      "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you" ~Jerry DeWitt 😀

      June 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • CW

      You don't actually believe that drivel. You just WANT to believe it. That's why all of you desperately immerse yourselves in religious texts and chanting to imaginary friends, and talk about all of that the entire day.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • KC

      Well said!

      June 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Allan G

      Amen ! Well said, most humans are so wrapped up in the world (and their sin nature), they cannot see the light. Good news though – GOD pursues all of us, in fact, Jesus won't return until every human on earth has heard the word, their choice whether or not to believe. As for me, only experiencing HELL on earth was enough for me to see HEAVEN. Remember, all things on earth are temporary and These too Shall Pass... Besides, If we just become piles of dust after death, how lame is that ? Not much hope there...

      June 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • MuyGuapo

      What about getting baptized for the forgiveness of your sins? (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Romans 6:1-4)

      June 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      > MY personal testimony.

      Personal testimony isn't worth anything. Is someone who claims to be Napoleon's personal testimony worth anything? How about those people who think they've been abducted by UFO's?

      > A thought to consider without an ego response.

      An ego response would be building a concept that there's a being that loves you and is on your side.

      > Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.

      Into an actual world of enslavement. Where you're a slave to an idea a concept, rather then thinking or being rational.

      > The world denounces truth....

      Except that you don't have truth. Really really believing something doesn't make it true.

      > Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

      Yes, and taking a drug will actually let you hear the colour blue. It doesn't mean it's true or worthwhile.

      > Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

      Incoherant babbling.

      > The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

      You have a good chunk of a coherant thought here, but it's not quite full. Pray tell, how do you know something is true based on it not being proen?

      > Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

      Define sinner.

      > We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
      It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

      Actually, you are trying to remain in control of everything when you believe in God. You're placing an unproven concept built by your mind and putting trust in it. "God has a plan for all of us" or "God works in mysterous ways" is a way of rationalizing things that happen. If God causes everything and you create the concept of God, you've created something that can be used to explain events that are occuring.

      > Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
      See the truth...

      It doesn't. It's mindless babbling. Much like you do here. See, you're looking for a reason to believe, so you interject meaning into nonsense. It's a self fulfilling process.

      > do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

      The believers in the bible are arrogant, not the other way around. They assume that their knowledge is absolute and there's nothing else. Non believers question everything and look for the answer. Those who claim to have absolute knowledge almost always don't.

      > Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

      Society doesn't worship these things. Are you mentally retarded? I'm sorry but I have to ask. Society may display such things (like a hot and steamy movie) because it's entertaining. We don't worship it though.

      > Trancsend the temporal world.

      Incoherant babbling.

      > Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over. This is truth.

      Incoherant babbling. People die, and when they die they're forgotten. Your point?

      > Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

      Incoherant babbling. No different then voodoo priests and those who practice black magic.

      > Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

      Evidence does not follow faith. Evidence nullifies faith. Because if you have evidence, you don't need faith. Faith is the excuse people use to justify the fact that they believe in something for no good reason. The problem is that people have convinced themselves that faith is a virtue. It's not. Faith is gullibility.

      > Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible .

      Faith in a religion comes from the particular religion you were exposed to. Muslims have faith, so do Jews, so do buddists.

      > Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

      Read the new testament. Learn how Jesus selfishly uses oil on his body instead of feeding the poor and using his divine powers to produce more booze so the party goers could get even more drunk.

      > Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

      I have.

      > You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

      The problem is that it's the faithful's egoism that's the problem. Reason and logic don't boost you up and make you believe that you're special and that there's someone who designed the world for you. Religion does that. Which is more egotistical again?

      > Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

      Nonsense. Actually, you do get bewilderment from reading the new testament. I wonder often how anyone could rationally believe in that nonsense. Especially the part where zombies go into the city.

      > I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

      It's not a truth. It's a belief you have

      > Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

      As I've said before, you're the one feeding your ego.

      > Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

      Incoherant babbling.

      > once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit.

      Like how torturing someone to settle a bet is a good idea. Or how much a person can sell their daughter as a slave for.

      > Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.

      Brainwashed you mean.

      > You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

      You got it totally backwards.

      > You're all smart people . I tell the truth.

      We are smart people. That's why we don't buy your nonsense.

      > Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.

      This is not advanced thinking. This is childish thinking. Believing in something for no good reason is moronic.

      > I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >

      Otherwise God will punish you forever and ever and ever.

      > Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

      Because it's all in your head.

      > my testimony

      The entire room is stupider from having read your testimony.

      Romans 10:9
      "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

      Bible quotes are for the intellectually feeble.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • john

      Christianity is all about ego. The eternal soul that transcends the universe which isn't born and can't die? Thinking you are immortal is about as ego driven as it gets. Also a lot of what you quoted was buddhist philosophy with hypocritical christian theism tacked on which denatures the message. You should work to reduce suffering in others as much as possible, not to please a God but because you were born to suffer and share this quality with all people.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  15. WASP

    notice how many theists are on this one? lmfao XD

    June 13, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Commenters are not all over this because CNN did not put it on the main page, or at least it was not there for long. By "LMFAO", I’m not sure what you are trying to say. You assume that atheists are not commenting here because they have nothing further to say and that that, therefore, is some kind of self evident statement against atheists? You are arguing that because they are not throwing comments out there about this, the fact that priests are turning atheist is somehow a loss of them? I fail to follow your logic, but considering you are clearly a churchie, you don’t have any anyway.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • mickey1313

      I'm an atheist, have been since i was 6, I'm glad that people like this exist. It is so sad how much brain washing and control religions have.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I'll continue to pray that some day you non-believers will loose those chains of satan's lies to experience Jesus' truth that will set you free.

      Amen.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Devil made me do it

      Religion is mental slavery that suspends critical thinking. It requires obedience to a joke of a god, who's story and book crumble under the weight of its claims and lies when science or logic are applied to them.
      Don't waste your "precious" pipe dream prayer for you and other Christians. We don't need or want your unless wishful thinking.
      Set yourself free from the bullsh•t that is god, Jesus and all religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      A God that kills people, tortures people to settle a bet and generally enacts laws that makes people lives horrible seems to be the real satan. I mean, how else do you explain evil acts like this being passed off as "good".

      June 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  16. John

    Any minister who leaves and turns Aetheist has no redemption ever!

    June 13, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      If he is an athiest he does not beleive in redeption. If he regains faith he can seek forgiveness. Seems you, as all Jesusers, dont get it. Not suprising, really. Hate hate hate, keep up the good work.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • sam stone

      Yep, Johnny, I am sure that he cares quite a bit about redemption. Gosh, can you be any more clueless?

      June 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • mickey1313

      He has redeemed his life

      June 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Christians aren't the clueless ones that get's blinded by the lust of the flesh in life. It's easy to be a non-believer that follows the lies of satan to conduct unrighteousness (what's good for you and who cares about all others). It takes courage to follow Jesus' truth to conduct righteousness (what's good for the person as well as all others)

      June 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Jen

      Heaven sent – you know that lust of the flesh is how babies get born right? Most babies aren't conceived in laboratories; they are born because men and women like to have s-x. Do you think the birth of babies is unrighteous? Are we supposed to go extinct instead?

      I'm carrying my third beautiful child. There is no greater experience than feeling a child growing in your womb. Interesting that god blessed an agnostic like me with pregnancy while you will spend the rest of your life barren.....

      June 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      One would think, reading HS's posts, that it can spot a Christian and tell it from an atheist simply by looking. I wonder, HS, how many people you'd be shocked to discover are unbelievers. You don't know it because they are moral, ethical, productive people, probably more interesting and interested in others than you have ever been. They're not lovers of lust or sin at all, anymore than you are, you silly twit.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • X

      Typical fear tactic from the bloodthirsty god of the desert... I love you and will forgive you for anything, except if you dare question my existence....

      June 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • CW

      Christians are by nature arrogant, thinking their way is the "right" way, and that everyone else must share their unsubstantiated "faith." Most of them just want to believe that there's more to their life and after it than just simply existing, though that's exactly all it is. That's reality. Deal with it. You're not "special."

      June 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • LinSea

      @Jen, you do realize that the phrase "lust of the flesh" is a metaphor, right?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    The greatest theologian of the last century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, once suggested that preachers should never leave real life.

    Bonhoeffer said that a preacher should always do an ordinary job beside his ecclesiastical job.

    The advantage of that is very obvious: By his ordinary job as carpenter, weaver, taylor, bricklayer, biologist, cleaner, postman, engineer, farmer and the like a preacher would keep in touch with the secular world and thus harsh reality as it is. An earthly job would preserve the preacher from becoming a spiritual dreamer or madman.

    Furthermore, a "working" (of course, also his spiritual work is work) preacher would not fully depend on the congregation concerning his livelihood. He would not be tempted or at least to a less extent to preach things, which his audience would welcome, but which would be false in God's sight.

    Of course, this is no strict law and there is no such a law in the New Testament. A very big congregation may need one or more pastors, which serve fulltime. However, every preacher should have made that experience to work in the world and in the Church at the same time. The struggle with the world helps a preacher to become ripe. One cannot learn everything by reading.

    The greatest theologian of all time practised that: St. Paul.

    And even the Son of God was not ashamed to work as a carpenter for a period of time.

    Anyway, an ordinary Christian will work in the secular world his whole life. A fulltime job in the Church needs a very high call, and is reserved for extremly noble, respectable people (noble in Christ; the depravity of their flesh and their former life plays absolutely no role; St. Paul was a Jewish Taliban, before he became a Christian leader). A good Christian leader is a man, which has learnt to overcome his personal sinfulness by the power of the Holy Spirit in a nearly perfect way, so that he may be a good example for the congregation.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      The greek word was "cataton", meaning "hand worker". I think he did about as much carpentry as a janitor. As far as his not being afraid to work, i'm not sure the bible actually talks abou thim doing anything other than hanging around with dudes and whining about taxes.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @The Jackdaw

      Because of theological reasons it is absolutely necessary that the Son of God was just an mere ordinary human being like you and me for a period of time (of course, Jesus is still also a human being beside his Godhead, but for a while he should be a mere man, in order to become equal with us).

      Therefore I assume that Jesus worked very, very hard as a carpenter every day up to the time when he was baptized by John the Baptist and started his public divine service.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      It seems like an all powerful and all knowing being would have had the foresight to put these kinds of details in his book so that assumptions about the humanity and quality of his son would not be questioned. For that matter, a super-being like "god" should have done a little editing and realized that his little book has a lot of contradictions and illogical things in it. Maybe that is a lot to ask from an all powerful being though.

      Seems to me that there is more man in God than God in man.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Note: Of course, Jesus was yet the Son of God, when he was born into this world by the virgin Mary and was yet the Son of God, when he entered the womb of Mary by a miracle of the Holy Spirit.

      I am not an adaptionist, which claims Jesus was produced by intercourse of Mary and Joseph and became the Son of God first through John's baptism. That is a wicked heresy and to reject. Regretable the leader of the German Evangelical Church Nikolaus Schneider believes that crap.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      That tangent has nothing to do with what I said.

      Christians – winning arguments by saying nothing for 2000 years.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      Gee, Rainy, you sure like to make unsupportable claims. Long winded ones, at that.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Recovering From Religion

      Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. ~Steven Weinberg, American Physicist and Nobel Prize Winner

      June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I enjoyed your post Rainer Braendlein. Amen.

      Remember, the non-believers have no eyes to see nor ears to hear His truth that you post.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      It is hard to "hear" a post, numb nutz.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • LinSea

      Jacksaw, did it ever occur to you that God expects you to put some effort into understanding Him and that's why you don't get every answer handed to you on a silver platter? You're the student, not the teacher in this scenario. The student is expected to study the textbook and ask the teacher if there is something he doesn't understand.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Which God??

      Moron. Hey-sus never existed.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • KRHODES

      The Jackdaw, I noticed you used the contradiction and the Bible is illogical bit...funny thing...you did not give any support to your false accusation.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  18. Reality

    ALLELUIA !!

    June 13, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, rejoicing that another spiritually dead head is taking the easy way out in life and now walks on the wide path to destruction. Wow?! The blind, leading the blind.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • CW

      @Heavensent Great summary of religion, the blind leading the blind.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  19. Jay

    With the hypocrisy, support of torture, support of war, ill treatment of those who dont believe... Im not surprised with what false religion has done to people. That's the goal of false religion anyway, to keep people at odds with God.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Devil made me do it

      God doesn't exist, so all religion is false, if you want to go that route.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Sad, but true.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Recovering From Religion

      "false religion" <-You imply there is some other kind? There are sincere intentions of people who follow religion, but there are no sincere or "more true" religions.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The blind that walk in satan's darkness asking that his chaos rules supreme. I'm just shaking my head now.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Funny, I didn't hear any rattling. Did your few remaining marbles fall out your nose, HS?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Beth

      Those things you listed, I agree, they're not right. The Bible talks against hypocrisy, torture, and ill treatment of non-believers. It addresses war, but many times, those wars were instigated by Israel's enemies. War is sometimes necessary. But just because it's talked in the Bible doesn't mean it's always right. King David, a man that is described as "a man after God's heart", was not allowed to build the temple that the Jews could worship God in, because he had blood on his hands. His son Solomon was the one to build it.

      The things you list exist because Christians are not perfect. Just because we believe in God doesn't mean we don't sin. Because we believe in God, we don't want to sin. The hypocrisy that you're talking about comes from that inability to stop sinning (our sin nature, which the Bible says is dead). We see the truth that sin is wrong, but we cannot stop. However, because we are aware of this and we want desperately to not sin (and not let others know about our sin), we sometimes try to hide it. Is it right? No. We need to be transparent, and admit that we struggle with lies, lust, stealing, dishonoring our parents, dishonoring God, etc. Revealing these struggles can only show how gracious God is by forgiving our sin (though we know that we still need to meet the earthly consequences for such sin).

      "False religion" is such a broad term... All other religions besides Christianity keep everyone at odds with the God who requires belief in Christ. I'm not sure if that made sense. Christianity says that there's a way, Jesus, to be restored to peace with God, to no longer be at odds with Him.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  20. The Jackdaw

    I think most "religous" people are secret athiests. News of this kind of thing will help them be more comfortable with critical and logical thinking.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Recovering From Religion

      We agree 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jackdaw, we're not the cowards that seek the easy way out through life ... as you hit and run ... leaving others to pick up the debris you leave in your wake.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What 'debris' are you babbling about, HS? Is this about your getting canned from your job by people you believe are atheists? Are you still whining about that? Geez, move on, already. People get fired when their bosses and coworkers don't like them and/or they fail to do good work.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Ah, Heaven Sent. I love it when your blithering banjo-plucking brainlessness shows up. You always have so much love to spread!

      Hate hate hate! Keep up the good work!

      (Your hate makes me glad that I do not prescribe to your brand of war-mongering insanity.)

      June 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • LinSea

      Ah, yes, Jackdaw, and there couldn't possibly be any hate, meanness or stereotyping behind a statement like "blithering banjo-plucking brainlessness." Love for your fellow man just oozes out of your every pore.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      Oh, I love people. I just get a little annoyed at the brainless, blithering banjo-pluckers that think Jesus is going to swoop down on his magical Luck-Dragon from Narnia that will gobble up all the sinners and excrete them as unicorn muffins just in time for Christmas.

      Thankfully, there seem to be fewer and fewer of them. Logic and critical thinking is winning!

      June 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • CW

      HS, in fact, you're the ones seeking the easy way out by trying to explain everything through your imaginary deity, when in reality the world if far more complex and scientifically substantiated. Keep dreaming.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Beth

      There's a difference between people who go to church and those who are actually Christians. Those who just go to church (but haven't actually made any kind of commitment to God) are in that group that are more likely to be secret atheists. Either secret atheists, or people who believe that God exists but haven't let Jesus forgive them. There are Christians who have thought this through. I can't say all, because, well, I'd be lying. We all know that there are people who are perfectly happy with laziness, and not making an effort to understand the physical world. But there are Christians who think through the science and the evidence, and still believe in God.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • GC

      The Jackdaw

      "I think most "religous" people are secret athiests."

      Believers say the same thing about atheists. The fact is believers really do believe and atheists really don't. We shouldn't insist that people must really hold beliefs they don't because that makes us feel better about their own. I'm an atheist. It's perfectly fine with me if people believe in a god. I don't demand that everyone think like me.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • LinSea

      @The Jackdaw, so you don't like religion and don't believe in God. It's your life, your decision. I was trying to point out that if you are going to condemn what you perceive to be hate in HeavenSent's comments by insulting and using derogatory stereotypes which come across to others as hateful, it makes you look hypocritical.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
Advertisement
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.