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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.

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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. pwnagepimp

    Who shares the same company when it comes to mass murdering human beings??

    1. Hitler
    2. Stalin
    3. Pol Pot
    4. the Christian God

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

      hand up: all of the above.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • george washington

      Not the Christian God... Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.... the followers are the ones doing the acts

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @george
      I guess you must've skipped over all the bits in the Bible where God commits genocide.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • sybaris

      @george washington

      How did followers of your god unleash a global flood?

      June 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Noella

      The Christian God can do whatever He wants to whomever and whatever He wants. He is the Potter and we are the Clay. He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, He can wipe out anyone and anything He wants to. We are all going to die anyway, so why does it bother you? Nobody said you could pick the way you go and none of us are 'innocent' – We, humans, actually deserve what we get. "No one is Rigtheous, not one." We, as humans have pretty much wrecked anything that was good to begin with. We should be wiped out. That is where our 'Loving God' comes in. To 'save us'. Our own choice. By the way, as for the little children, God has 'special' angels where they are concerned. These angels have access to God where others don't for the sake of the children.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  2. Recovering Catholic

    I like the term "apatheist." Atheists don't believe. Agnostics don't know. Apatheists don't care. The two main tenets of apatheism are that (1) right and wrong are independent of the existence of God and (2) no God worthy of being worshiped would have anything to do with any of the religions invented by man. Actually, those aren't the two main tenets of apatheism. They are the only ones.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • sam

      I like it.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  3. Fields

    Christians preach the gospel of life and hope.

    Aethists preach the gospel of death and despair.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • sam

      Hopefully someone will eventually teach you how to spell.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Derek

      Fields, even if your claim were true (it isn't), what Christians preach (incessantly) about their god would still be obviously false.

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

      Disagree. Atheists don't preach anything.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Fields

      And you've never made a typo in your life, Sam? Classy.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • tony

      Most churchyard cemeteries I've seen are still occupied.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Carl

      you mean christians preach the gospel of life and hope, but just so we are clear it is a life of stunted and fearful existence. Just like the life of a child who is threatened and belittled all its like, and then kicked when it has an independent thought. Anyone who has the balls to see we are all alone in the universe with no one else to depend on but ourselves and make a go at living a moral and good life while they are here, with out the heavenly boogeyman, is a courageous independent thinker deserving of praise.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • sam

      @Fields – well, say something stupid and ignorant = get what you get.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Robert

      Sorry Fields, atheists don't preach either. We all die, no preaching needed. As for dispair, it wasn't us that came up with a burning lake of fire ofr all eternity. If that's not preaching dispair I don't know what is. It's a shame you're so threatened by any idea that challenges your dogma.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • wayne

      Fields is just projecting his feelings onto us. He doesn't know a damn thing about atheists.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      and christians seem to do by threatening eternal damnation otherwise fields.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  4. tony

    A day in the life of an all-powerful loving god.
    Let's see, shall I part the Red Sea again, or just send a tsunami to drown 250,000 innocents who I just gave free-will to. I know. I'll check the collection amounts for this week and see if I can afford to increase the amount of TV ministry programming. Then I'll go bowling with Satan, using a few asteroids to knock the spare planets out of orbit. No-one will notice the laws of the Universe changing.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  5. Joe

    It makes me so happy to see this happening! The sooner people stop deluding themselves about their religions the sooner we can actually start making this planet a truly joyful place to be. Religions have been the number one destructive force on the planet for far too long. Their time has come. Good riddance!

    June 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Carl

      I think you are full of shi1 too

      June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  6. polemicist

    So here's a huge difference between theists and atheists: the theists would see a preacher living a lie (professing belief in God while inwardly denying it) and see it as wrong. Atheists, such as these preachers, seem to have no problem lying to their congregation about their atheism and keep on preaching without any moral difficulties.

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

      try naming an atheist who said he/she wants to see ANY preachers keep on preaching.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'polemicist' is an instance of a circu-mstantial ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • sam

      That made zero sense. But please don't try again.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • sybaris

      You started out on the right track but finished poorly. You gave credit to theists seeing it for what it is but then grouped atheists as an immoral bunch. You conveniently left out how atheists would see it.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Dan

      You're point only supports the idea that the church is a business, and these people are employees. They keep going because they don't want to lose their job, not because their trying to dupe someone into believe something they themselves don't believe in. You think they want to be doing it if they don't even believe in it?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  7. In response to TruthPrevails :-)

    That was the most pathetic rebuttal I have ever seen, you just foolishly dismissed my comment in a very moronic and immature manner and then continued with your flawed thesis. Trying to justify it by throwing around facts that have nothing to do with the argument i was making which your ignoramus brain was not capable of comprehending.

    TruthPrevails 🙂
    You sir are an idiot!!! Atheism is not a religion! There are Atheistic type religions, just as there are theistic type religions. Not every theist is a christian, just like not all atheists are buddhists.

    To clarify some definitions for you:
    Atheist=disbelief in god(s)
    Theist=belief is god(s)
    Gnostic=a claim of knowledge
    Agnostic=does not claim knowledge

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

      We're supposed to care? You just proved you're too stupid to find the 'reply' link on the original post.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • tony

      Or you could try answering the rebuttal, instead of shouting nothing.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  8. Judy

    If a person’s own child asks for something, is the answer always yes? “No,” can be an answer too. Prayer is NOT a magic lamp to grant a person’s every wish. The Bible in Psalms 53:1 says, “The fool has said in his hear, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.” (NKJV) Just because a person thinks everything should be all happy with no bad happening to them or anyone is plain ignorant. It never ceases to amaze me how people define faith, because unless you read the Bible you have no idea what faith is—read Hebrews chapter 11. Like Eric in his comment said, God sent his ONLY son so that we might have redemption from our sins and go to Heaven. The Bible, God word, tells us HOW TO DO THAT. Look in Acts 2:38, Romans chapter 6. It is a choice. Why can’t we who believe God’s word, the Bible, be allowed to believe what has been written for us to learn and believe for eternal life without someone who chooses not to believe what is written to condemn us to being stupid for believing it? This world is not all there is and even in the article MacBain says she is “going to burn with you”. That is HER CHOICE. People who put their faith in human beings will be disappointed. The Bible tells us that. We have to put our faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ and read what the Bible says, not what some foolish human tells us what it means when it is contrary to what is written in the Bible. Acts 5:29 tells us we must obey God rather than men.

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

      The "bible" is mostly a collection of revisioned and recycled middle-eastern mythology. Referencing it to anyone other than a Christian means absolutely nothing, as the book has been discredited countless ways. As for "prayer" – well if you accept a less than 1% success rate as proof prayer works, while dismissing the remaining 99+% as "god's will" then you are severely blind to reality.

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

      Yet another reason to add to the list of why it's impossible to believe what religious people believe....you must consider yourself a child, with the intellect to match, in order to believe what they do!

      June 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • tony

      Why can't people be allowed to eat much cheaper cans of pet food, and get cancer quickly.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • old golfer

      You cannot produce one iota of proof that the Bible you quote is the word of God. Your book has been translated hundreds of times. But you believe in virgin birth, the planets stopping so Joshua could murder more people and the talking snake story. I can't. The ark would not even hold the feed for every insect and animal for the time it was on water. I am not poking fun at you, just stating some of the issues that I have with your book. Peace to you and believe what you want or were taught. I was taught Christian and can't go that path. I am a Deist.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bill

      If God is real, and he loves everyone, why did he command his followers in the Bible to "kill the non-believers"? I wouldn't think that someone as powerful and all knowing as GOD would be so petty and selfish. I'm not a God, but even I know you don't need to kill those who don't agree with you. Just a thought....

      June 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Mortalc01l

      I have posted this before and I will again:

      Prayer is supposedly our way of talking to God and the theory is that God answers prayers. Supposedly, people have been cured of all sorts of ills through prayer... Cancer, Blindness, The Flu... BUT why does God then seem to hate amputees?

      In the last 2000 years of Christian history, how may devout Christian believers have lost a limb? Some have lost them through being tortured for being Christians; some have lost them through War in support of Chritendom, some through accident or disease... How many millions have prayed to God for their limb to grow back? How many more millions have prayed fervently on their behalf? Their devout Christian mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, priests, pastors, their whole communities?

      Yet NEVER has a limb grown back.... NEVER... Not once in the history of humanity has praying to ANY God, grown a limb back.

      There are no Gods. No Zeus, no Shiva, no Buddha, no Thor or Ra the Sun God and there is no Christian God either. For those of you that disbelieve EVERY other God that has come before and after the Christian God; for those that mock as ridiculous, or stupid those that believe in Quetzalcoatl, or Apotamkin, you may if you think REALLY hard, begin to understand why I just so happen to believe in one less God than YOU do.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "If a person’s own child asks for something, is the answer always yes? “No,” can be an answer too."

      if a person's own child is dying of cancer and says 'save me if you have the power', can the answer from a loving parent be 'no' then as well?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • bembol

      That's why it is not advisable to read just one book.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  9. Tim Jordan

    It takes an incredible amount of courage for anyone to leave their faith. Can't imagine how difficult this journey has been for this gentleman.

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

      No, they just have to be honest with themselves. We all do.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  10. george washington

    Seems to me that people aren't losing faith in God, but faith in religious organizations and their leaders.
    A belief in God does not require a belief in religion.
    I have little faith in the organization of faith, more in individuals I have met and more in myself and those I care about.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      A belief in God does not require a belief in religion.

      A belief in God is a religion.

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

      Excellent post.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • MW927

      George,
      You've hit the nail on the head. The word religion means "covering", much like Adam and Eve (either metaphorically or literally, your choice) attempted to "cover" their shame with fig leaves. God rejected their covering (and still rejects these manmade coverings today). Religion is no more than a business whose goal is to grow and become prosperous.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • george washington

      A belief in God is not an religion.... it's a personal belief...... religion is an organization of more than one.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  11. Moby Schtick

    Thank you CNN!!! Great article and great subject matter. I didn't preach for very long, but I was decent at it. Atheism: Yay!!

    June 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  12. Noella

    If any one of us really knew what true evil really is, then we would also know what true good really is. Since WE are NOT gods, and we all will die, yes, every single one of us, then we only have one thing to do...answer the question put ot us...Is ther a one, true God and will we believe in Him, or not? That's it. Then you die. If hell is always depicted as an evil, dark, suffering place then I choose not to go there. If heaven is a wonderful, beautiful safe place, then I choose to go there. Jesus said to this entire world, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. NO ONE comes to the Father (God) but by Me." Believe it or not. It's my choice and it is yours. Take it or leave it. But don't balme God, anyone or anything else. If you are resentful becaause you have to make this choice, think about it some more. Don't make it so hard for yourselves. Just pick ne and go with it.

    As for all the Clergy etc. who are now so doubtful, why did you think you would have it any easier than the rest of us? In fact, in order for you to be effective, you have to experience the worst or you can not meet the needs of the rest of the world. Don't give up, just do what you can and let God decide what He wants to do, not what you want Him to do. None of us know the mind of God. So how can you judge Him? Who are we to judge Him? Remeber to read Job and Ecclesiastics...especially when you are depressed. Thatt Light will shine in your heart again unless you have already chosen to turn your back. It's rare, but God can choose to bring you back if you have already turned from him after knowing the Light. It can be too late, but nothing is impossible for God. NOTHING. An you know that, don't you....

    June 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • zeke

      stop talking.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      nothing is impossible for God. NOTHING. An you know that, don't you....

      I don't know any such thing. And neither do you. You just choose to believe it. I choose not to.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "So how can you judge Him? Who are we to judge Him?"

      we are rational thinking human beings that see tsunamis wiping out 250,000 people and rightly deciding that if a god did it, or decided not to stop it, then he is one seriously nasty evil twisted SOB that does not deserve worshipping regardless of whether we know his 'reasons' or not.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  13. dmc64

    If he'd had these doubts, why did he not convey same to those who had bought into his sermonizing? I can only assume he had to feed his family with $$$ received from his deluded followers.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Wootings

      ...which makes him different from any other preacher, how exactly?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • dmc64

      DEAR WOOTINGS: How did you get the specious idea that I was defending other "preachers"?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  14. Racheln24

    This saddens me on so many levels. While I am not a "bible thumper", I do believe in a higher power. i don't claim to have all the answers but I don't think any of us can. What I do know, is that our culture as a whole has become angry, greedy, self centered and the like. I think it's healthy to question religion. My concern is that people don't question religion, and accept everything as fact, become disillusioned, rebel against everything and lose their moral compass altogether. Religion has a purpose whether or not you are a believer in God.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • dmc64

      Well said.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Robert

      Our "moral compass" is derived from our need to live as a society, not from any god. The bible for example is a terrible guide as to how to live and treat others. It's more like a hand book for tyrants.

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

      And I believe people were more evil and selfish in the past "Christian times". Unless you were a white christian man, life sucked. At least with reality people have become more accountable as to their actions.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • old golfer

      You can also believe in God and not any religion. We are called Deist's. I have always believed in a higher power. I have never bought into any religion. Read THE AGE OF REASON, written by Thomas Paine. Yes, that Thomas Paine. Also THE BIBLE ACCORDING TO TWAIN, written my Mark Twain. Both are a ton brighter than I am. To me, religion is about power, money, fear and control. All religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • sam

      Religion, however, is not required for a moral compass. Plenty of people find one without the other.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Tim Jordan

      Sad someone would need the "moral compass" of eternal punishment. This is just another stereotype that atheists are amoral philistines. You'll find the most egregious crimes committed in the name of or using the cloak of religion (e.g. the Roman Catholic Church).

      June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • dmc64

      Have none of these people ever been introduced to the word "eclectic"?

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

      Why don't you just accept that your beliefs are yours and not something that the whole world has to share? It's disgusting that you think no religion equals no morals. Take one look around and see the people in your own community. Those that profess to be religious and moral are quite often the ones inflicting the most damage in the world around them. Religion has no role in the lives of many and that has no bearing on their moral principles and values. I have given up religion and am now an atheist. I also raised a loving family, with decent, loving children, in which we all strive to do our best for ourselves and others. So please, keep your judgmental opinions to yourself, your ignorance and hypocrisy are showing.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Racheln24

      Old Golfer, I agree with you and thanks for the info. I don't really subscribe to a religion, but I do think it has some merits though. It's a community...just like a community of atheists.. it serves a purpose in bringing people together. As for the greed and judgement, excluding others, etc. I obviously DON'T agree with that. That's why I choose to have a personal relationship with God and let others do as they wish.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Racheln24

      Arlene, I could call you judgmental and ignorant as well... I won't because I have a "moral compass" you could say.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      Religion has a purpose whether or not you are a believer in God.

      Without a belief in a god or gods, there is no religion, that's what religion is.

      As for it's purpose, Accoring to U.S. Center for World Mission
      only 12.7% of the world population identify as non-religious. 83 percent of Americans identify with a religious denomination. So if 'our culture as a whole has become angry, greedy, self centered and the like", then you tell me what purpose religion serves.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "I could call you judgmental and ignorant as well... "

      it doesnt matter what you could do, it matters that you have already done so, even with a moral compass

      June 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  15. Robert

    Here's some reality for you RealityChecker.
    From Freethoughtpedia:
    2007, Pew Research Values Study: Percentage of people identifying themselves as atheist, agnostic or "no religion" by year of birth:[1] Date of birth <1946 : 5%
    1946-1964: 11%
    1965-1976: 14%
    1977+: 19%

    It's worth noting this study was conducted between Dec. 12, 2006 and Jan. 9, 2007, over the course of the most religious time of the year (Christmas, Hanukkah, Qwanza, etc.) – This seems the absolute worst possible time to poll for average religious affiliation and not receive exaggerated results! If during Christmas time, almost 20% of people under the age of 21 don't believe in God, can you imagine how much larger the percentage may likely be normally, when all of society isn't celebrating a religious season? –Pile 12:13, 2 September 2007 (CDT)

    June 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  16. Snow

    oh hahaha.. this is hilarious.. and really does prove that deep inside, in the heart of hearts, how much ever one may deny it, everybody knows the cold hard truth.. that there is no god!

    June 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • dmc64

      Perhaps you're correct; however, your idiotic revelry should be, at the very least, embarrasing to you personally.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Snow

      Nah.. its still hilarious.. sad that you can not find humor in this.. since you guessed so wrongly about what I feel personally, let me clarify. If someone comes and makes fun of my belief, I dont get ruffled or threatened (*cough* christians *cough*). I laugh at them since they haven't gone through the same journey as I did, nor do they have the same knowledge of the beliefs as I do (which is, btw different from revelry, dictionary . com should help ya),

      But, you proved yourself as a jesus freak and so not .. bah, let me just laugh at you.. hahaha (not revelry)

      June 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  17. polemicist

    DeWitt is a prime example of why pentecostal/charismatic preachers need to go to seminary and not just start preaching at age 17.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • sybaris

      That doesn't make sense.

      By your logic everyone would have to attend seminary school.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Robert

      So your argument is that his brainwashing was incomplete?
      Why can't a person of normal intelligence read the bible and reach a rational conclusion?
      Is your god such a poor communicator?
      Have you in fact read the bible?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • polemicist

      Good seminaries educate, not indoctrinate. Also, why is it impossible for the universe to have a creator? Give me a good answer and I'll disavow God in a second.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • dan

      Agreed. There are a lot of loose canons out there who have " a zeal for God but not according to knowledge". This is the result.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  18. James

    The "nones" atheists, etc etc are starting to get pretty organized and holding regular get togethers, meetings where they talk about their beliefs, read the writings of their teachers, etc etc etc. Getting pretty much like a religion isn't it? Also, I am finding as time goes on they are also becoming less and less accepting of those who do not believe as they do, many going out of their way to attack those who do not. Sound familiar?

    June 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by James is an instance of a Slippery Slope fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      June 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • sam

      And you've decided that's the case based on...?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Racheln24

      Completely agree James.. well put.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Derek

      Racheln24, think about that. You just supported an obvious fallacy, stupid.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Brandy

      You hit the proverbial nail on the head. It's always amused me how a lot of atheists seem to be so angry in someone they don't even believe in.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Racheln24

      you said it Brandy!

      June 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • sam

      James isn't going to answer because he either has none, or it's just some vague feeling he has based on some message board. Quit being smug.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • wayne

      @Brandy, it's what we don't believe in that we are mad at. It's what we do that we are mad at. Religion, and religous people.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      I agree with you. I don't like where this is heaqding either and I will have no part of it.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      ok first off.....atheists dont have 'teachers'
      secondly if having meetings is religious then my firend's book club had better start applying for a tax free status.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  19. capnmike

    Anybody who bothers to actually study the history of religion in the human race will understand that it is all a made-up fantasy, changed and massaged through the centuries to suit the moment. The reality is that there are no gods, devils, heaven, hell, souls, angels, etc...they are all human inventions that are brainwashed into children from birth, so they grow up believing a huge heap of nonsense. It is pathetic that this causes so much death, destruction, and misery in what could be a peaceful happy world.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Manomer

      Well I thank GOD for my faith. I hate that there are so many "so-called" Christians that spout hate and turn people away from God. I know there is a God, I have seen first hand, felt first hand and know without any doubt. The destruction in this world is from the hateful people yes some of those are people that call themselves Christians but that doesn't mean that they are....It is ok if you believe it is a fantasy. I believe God is real. To each their own.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      " I know there is a God, I have seen first hand, felt first hand and know without any doubt."

      So what would you say to others that would say the exact same thing, but with a different god? Why are you better than them?

      And please look up the 'No True Scottsman' fallacy so that you can stop committing it.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • BAM

      Yeah, you have a great point. You eliminate religion and everyone is 100% peaceful. Just like in communist countries. Religion has done awful things and non religion has done awful things. To believe despite the evidence that people would be holding hands and loving everyone if there were no religions is as big of a delusion as a magical man in the sky.

      I am all for people rejecting religion, but then to blindly believe that the world will be perfect as a result is so pathetic I want to puke on my own genitals.

      And for what it is worth, every major world religion preaches against greed (the results can be argued with) as every religion recognizes that greed, and violence are fundamentally part of being human, they have nothing to do with religion all of you theist/atheist twits.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  20. jen

    Some of these responses from so-called Christians are disgusting. You have no right to criticize and ostracize someone because they believe differently than you do. It's none of you business what other people believe!! Neither do the so-called Christians in this man's home town. People in religous organizations are so much more like cliques or cults than they are organizations that help people.

    And morality is not equivalent to Christianity. Just because someone is an atheist or an agnostic, that doesn't mean that their life is easy because they don't have moral standards. Many more Christians than atheists support the right of some nut to buy a gun, walk into a public place, and start shooting indescriminately. And since when is living a life with moral standards difficult? No wonder so many people are becoming atheists and agnostics. So-called Christians are not presenting a lifestyle that others want to join. You don't follow the example set by Jesus of helping the downtrodden, you think you are God Himself and have the right to judge everyone else except yourself.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • kenny

      I think someone touch one of your nerves. It seems to me that you can criticize Christians but they cant critcize you. Oh you also can judge Christians but you can't be judged

      June 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • cartman

      No one asked you kenny

      June 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Racheln24

      God bless you

      June 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'kenny' is an instance of a non sequitur fallacy with ad hominem elements.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      June 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • dmc64

      Your comment has left me completely flummoxed. Congratulations.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • BAM

      Wow, Fallacy Spotting 101, did you perchance take philosophy 101? Perhaps you might next explain to me the socratic method, or something else you picked up freshman logic. You are so wise o grand corrector of human thought.

      I assume you you will use italicized words to tell me which fallacies I have committed here, but don't bother, it would only add credence to my ridicule.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @BAM –

      That would be argumentum ad hominem.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
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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.