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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. John

    The origin of the Qur'an is demonic, not Divine. Is it me or does the 12th Imam, or Mahdi, as described in the Qur'an bear a significant resemblance to the Anti-Christ as described in the book of Revelations? Coincidence maybe? I don't think so. Now, stop promoting Islam and do what the Qur'an tells you to do; Recognize that Jesus Christ is the one and only Messiah!

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

      Well, thanks for that opinion

      June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • BigRed

      Clearly you didn't even bother to read the article.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      So, John, the Qu'ran says that Jesus Christ is the one and true Messiah? Could you point out where?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  2. weavernv

    Serioiusly, you can stay a pastor... The Unitarian Universalists have plenty of humanists/atheists pastors... Depending upon your education level, you can move into a new career in a new religion...

    June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  3. waterman

    Good for the ex-preacher. It is not easy to go against years of brainwashing received from an early age. A lot of intellect has to be behind this, not to mention courage. Very encouraging that there are several hundred preachers who are part of his group.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  4. jjg777

    When you pray for someone, some of the responsibility for faith is the responsiblity of the prayed for person to believe..

    Also the bible has a scripture that if someone leaves from among us,, then they were never part of us. Thus was he really ever a Christian? Did he really confess with his mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.

    Also in Hebrews 11 while it talks about many great men and women of faith and what their faith accomplished it also talks about some people who were sawed in half who had faith.

    To base his defection from the Christian faith on the fact that some people did not get a job or did not receive healing is to let the Devil win. There are so many ways to show that God exist that he should have known.

    Look at him. He is without a job. His house is being foreclosed. He has no friends. His decision to stop trusting the Lord has already costed him mightly.

    I personally have experienced many anwsers to pray...thank you Lord Jesus.

    The bible teaches that the antichrist is coming and you who are on the earth will have to accept the mark of the beast or possibly be executed.

    Trust in the Lord Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Hmm...

      Seems like a pretty cool story, I think I'll stick to the Ancient Egyptian Sun God Ra though, dude had the head of a falcon!

      June 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • BigRed

      Wonderful for you to explain that you have broken God's influence down from being the Creator of the Universe to being an unemployment counselor, family therapist, and housing advocate. That really must be comforting to Christians everywhere

      June 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Look at him. He is without a job. His house is being foreclosed. He has no friends. His decision to stop trusting the Lord has already costed him mightly. "

      i guess i missed all that in the article, where can i find it?

      June 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • jjg777

      To Cedar Rapids : Read the story again and you will see what going to the dark side has already cost him.
      To big red: Huh?????

      June 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  5. tony

    There's no business like "snow" business. And it's tax exempt!

    June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  6. Mike

    When I was a kid the first time i can remember being in mass and the stories "I said to my self, these stories can't possibly be true." I have never believed in that non-sense, even when i was a little boy. Im almost embarrassed people believe these unbelievable stories. I truly pity them all 😦

    June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Sabrina

      Mike I bet your life is so miseralbe because without God, you will have no peace in your life. You think you were brought to this world thinking you can do and say as you think. Remember God listens to every word and thought that you make and you should be very careful what you say in the presence of the Lord.
      Just an example for you Mike. I really feel for you.
      Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer) said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.
      In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.
      Many more important people have forgotten that there is no other name that was given so much authority as the name of Jesus.
      Many have died, but only Jesus died and rose again, and he is still alive.
      "Jesus"

      June 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • dman

      Wow Sabrina, so God smote this poor woman for writing a book. Your God is a jerk and if you take any solace from that story you are a monster.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • fintastic

      Sabrina; I truly feel sorry for you, that you have to live your life in fear of punishment from god.

      you wrote;

      "Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer) said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.
      In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle."

      Is that your loving god in action?..... how pathetic. Grow a spine and think for yourself.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer) said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.
      In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle."

      yeah she was murdered apparently by her husband so i guess god has no problems with murder.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  7. Barry G.

    We all struggle with our faith– but to deny the existence of God simply means that a person refuses to submit to God’s rule in their lives, and they refuse to adhere to the high ethics and values God demands.

    In other words they decide that they are going to do what they want; and, the way humankind has always done this is by subscribing to polytheism (paganism) via its idolatrous practices.

    The question posed in the Bible is not a question of does God exist. The question is, what God will you follow? The God of Abraham (monotheism) who created the universe and demands that we live by the highest ethical standards and values; or will you opt to subscribe to other notions of reality and the divine (polytheism). The latter permits a person to chart their own course and pursue whatever selfish whims they have.

    The Bible, from beginning to end, does not ask whether God exists, it asks how will you live, during this brief life, which God has given you?

    Will you accept his sovereign rule and plan for your life? Will you live by his ethics and values? Or will you chart your own course and pursue your own selfish, misguided plans, as so many have foolishly done?

    Will you say, “God, your will be done in my life”, or will you say, “my will is going to be done”?

    This has always been the issue and the question.

    One way results in peace, and joy and order; the other results in anxiety (fear), disaster, violence and destruction.

    The very opening verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1) makes a bold pronouncement of faith, which was radical for its day, and was made in the midst of a world that was fully polytheistic and idolatrous.

    The pronouncement of Genesis 1:1 (and that of the entire Bible) is that God alone created and sustains the universe. This bold statement of faith ran counter to the existing explanations for the universe, and it ran and still runs counter to the selfish and misguided plans and actions of so many .

    June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • tony

      And Chapter I:12 says watch the sky for signs (of the truth presumably). Which incidentally shows no signs for the past 13 BILLION YEARS

      June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Mike

      I don't believe in polytheists as well as your Allah. They are all made up. Oh btw, ppl were worshiping multiple gods before the creation of your mythology. Your argument holds no merit.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • BigRed

      "One way results in peace, and joy and order; the other results in anxiety (fear), disaster, violence and destruction." I guess Christians never persecuted anyone, sold indulgences to the poor to get into heaven, hung falsely accused innocents for being witches, burn't people at the stake, tortured them, annihilated whole civilizations, tortured and convicted scientists of heresy, killed their own by establishing Papal armies to sweep through whole regions and killing everyone in their path, impaling non-believers, sent Children on crusade to die in the Middle East. Yeah Christianity has such a noble history.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      If you grew up in Yemen, you would more than likely follow Allah. If you grew up in China, you might be a Buddist. Since faith is needed for most religions, and of course, the God being worshipped cannot be proven/disproven; what makes your 'God without proof' more credible than theirs. There are devout followers all around the globe of different religions. Each one would probably bet their lives on this belief. Do you not see your bond with these people? You're all in the same boat. You believe your God is the correct God and their God is a false God. And everyone believes this about everyone else.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      ah the arrogance of the religious to claim only they have ethics or values.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  8. Victor

    He should just become a Unitarian Universalist minister. Then he can continue to minister, but he can remain Athiest.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • fintastic

      Nope..... he definately made the right choice.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  9. MartinD28

    Infinity has no beginning or end so how is it possible to be born from out of nothingness only to be then granted "infinite" life after death if we follow some religious guidance? After death we are most likely to return to where we came from before birth and since no one has ever had any memory of a pre-existence then that state of being or rather non-being is likely to occur again to all of us.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Tony

    Every CNN story on religion is anti-religion. 99.9% of the time. The stories are always about turning away from a church, or rebelling against teachings, etc. It's as predictable as a sunrise. For once I'd like to see a story about a troubled person who turns their life around, becomes a priest, and helps others who were like him. Or statistics on the countless hours spent in service to the less fortunate that many religious people perform.

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

      God is imaginary. CNN realized it.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Adonomo

    I feel sorry for him. He is on the wrong part. God is real and I can testify to that. Just like I am not going to question him, he should not nor should anyone who is an atheist question mine own belief that God is real and that Jesus died to save us from sin if only we believe.

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

      Why can't i question it? Not only do i question your god, but I find the teachings extremely immoral.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      So, you want us to accept your testimony on it's face?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      I am an accountant, but I want to testify as a doctor.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • BigRed

      Thank you for expressing your delusion openly.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • sam stone

      If you want to testify that it is your opinion, knock yourself out. If you want to claim it as a fact, we can certainly question it.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  12. Bored at Work

    Can someone explain to me how blackholes literally break down/transcend the laws of physics? I ask this because maybe humans are not even capable of comprehending our own existence, one way or another.

    Our ability to reason is limited to what has proven to be useful for survival, which means understanding where we come from or ultimately how we got here is completely useless from an evolutionary perspective. For example, it is almost impossible to explain that time is an illusion crafted by gravity – because understanding this concept is completely useless. Also, since science relies on natual laws, how does science explain that which exists beyond our natual laws? If you believe in blackholes, shouldn't you concede that something exists beyond the laws of physics?

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

      For scientists and people who live their lives by reason and common sense, the unknown universe is simply knowledge and physics that have not been fully examined yet. To attribute God's hand each time something is not completely understood is to maintain a belief in fairies and unicorns instead of accepting that science hasn't gotten around yet to explaining every single thing.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Devil made me do it

      Science doesn't have the answers to those questions yet. Thats what science and physics work towards every day, finding answers. Religion on the contrary says "god did it" or god is the answer, when the fact is religion has no clue. Because there is no answer doesn't default to "god", that's lazy and weak minded.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Unknown" is not the same as "unknowable".
      In any case, "goddidit" is a lazy cop-out answer.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Bored at Work

      Right, so I guess my point is that I wonder if there is some juncture where science and faith ultimately intertwine. The source of our existence is so fantastic that belief in that scientific answer or that an answer exists is as unbelievable by todays standards as unicorns or fariers.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Mike

      No because blackholes are in our realm of reality. We can detect them, sure we don't know exactly how they work yet, but we know a lot and we continue to observe their behavior with observation, data gathering and hypothesis testing. You sound quite ignorant on the field astrophysics to say we can't explain black holes. There is absolutely no observable evidence for the existence of Allah.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Lazy and weak minded? You see there is reason for those three little world "in his heart" in Psalm 14:1-2.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Bored at Work

      I am not saying you guys are wrong, and I'm not judging you. I just think it's hypocritcal to challenge believers to think critically yet provide such uncritical or simplistic answers. Challenge yourselves with whatever direction you choose.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • BigRed

      We all understand your difficulty in acknowledging the reality of science and physics. Thinking critically in science means you seek out puzzles (the unknown) and solve them through accepted and validated processes involving observation, mathematics, and physics. Newton was a very righteous Christian but he still understood the scientific method and succeeded in explaining gravity, the size of the earth, its rotation and orbit, as well as the speed of the earth around the Sun. Had he been born during Galileo or Bruno's time he would have been tortured, excommunicated and burnt alive. You are not ready to accept science and physics because frankly you are not ready to accept that there are limits to your faith with respect to the workings of the universe. It doesn't make you bad, or ignorant. It merely demonstrates you are not ready to accept a universe that is just beginning to be known to mankind. I urge you to read "The Clockwork Universe", by Edward Dolnick. It doesn't belittle religion. It merely explains how much of this works.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • fintastic

      God is the easy way out for questions about the unknown.

      How sad....

      June 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Bored at Work

      @BR- will add that to the list. thanks.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  13. ForGoodOfAll

    I think people should stop criticizing others for their beliefs or non-beliefs. Religion is a priority to some, and not a priority to others, just like education beyond high school is a priority for some and not for others. Religious beliefs need to stay out of public policy making.

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

      and schools and family upbringings.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  14. CLINT

    I know it's hard for christians to wrap their mind around but there is no giant invisible man in the sky watching your every move. As a child you all fell for this same story only he was called santa claus then. Science (you know the way we know everything that we know about the world) shows that the bible is completely wrong about the way the earth began. The good thing about science is that it's true no matter if you believe it or not.

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

      Go to uncommondescent.com and rething your post.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • T-Bar

      Takes more faith to not believe in a God. The odds of all this earth just happening is quite the leap.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • bobo

      "The good thing about science is that it's true no matter if you believe it or not." Shows how closed minded you really are. Many times scientific facts have come out as wrong and science has rewritten its theory to match current research. Whether scientific or religious, no one theory is ever absolute.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • MrHanson

      By the way when I read an article that starts with:

      "A spine with multiple segments is a feature of land-dwelling animals but the discovery of the same anatomical feature in a 345-million-year-old eel suggests that this complex anatomy arose separately from, and perhaps before, the first species to walk on land"

      Don't you think that maybe I can question your so called 'science'? Belief in evolution requires faith.

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

      I love you guys are trying to say that science could be wrong and you're right there have been cases were science has changed its findings based on new evidence, but theist base their beliefs on no evidence. Heres a couple im pretty sure will not be changed. The earth is older than 6000 years old, man and dinosaurs did not co-exist, and animals do not talk.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  15. MB415

    why is this article on a beliefs blog? I think that CNN deliberately tries to portray Christians as stupid people. There are thousands of faiths out their that have beliefs that are far from mainstream but Christians are constantly being targeted as fools for their beliefs. While I am happy the we live in a country that people can express their views, regardless of how unfair and unbalanced that they may be, it is still annoying to witness the constant ridicule that Christians must endure. Christians are contributing so much of their time and resources to help people and make this world a better place. Why don't they put more of those stories on the beliefs blog.. There is so much more to Christianity, but unfortunately the authors of this blogs and CNN only want to paint a partial picture of who we are. So sad

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

      CNN doesn't need to portray it. It happens on its own.

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

      Christians are the ones who put up billboards and send missionaries.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      MB: Here is the deal, stop trying to legislate your belief system and you will see a huge decrease in the amount of ridicule to which it is subjected

      June 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Questions401

      Why did I turn away from God? If god is real then God made me to speak with a lisp and my ex-pastor told my father to beat the gay out of me because I naturally speak with a lisp, I'm not even gay and I never was… Some people just have a funny sounding voice.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Jack

      Yeah, it must be really difficult to edure the ridicule as a member of the most powerful cultural force in the world.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • bembol

      Religious beliefs are ridiculous, and so they are ridiculed. Very simple.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  16. tony

    Hands up all you who advise us to read and follow the Bible. Now hands down if you don't only eat bread with Millet, Spelt and Lentils in every day. Only those with their hands still up should keep on posting.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  17. IslandAtheist

    I look forward to watching this snowball.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  18. BryanP100

    Fallacy Spotting 101... you need to do a better job spotting falacies. From your own cite, "Not a type of fallacy." is written for non sequitur. That said, Kenny's response to Jen is not invalid. I'm not a Christian nor do I have a religion but I see the same thing he's saying.

    It's not okay for Christians to judge anyone (I agree with this) but atheists are judging Christians. It's not okay for a Christian to present an argument but it's okay for atheists to. It's not okay for Christians to mention their beliefs but it's okay for Atheists to mention theirs.

    It makes you all look petty and little.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  19. Neal

    When I was about 16 I heard my brother speak from behind the pulpit. He was only 14 and barely able to look over it at the time. I remember the scriptures he read as if it were just yesterday. He read from II Corinthians 4:3-4. "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." It stuck with me over the years. I am 37 now. If there is one thing that God has taught me...He taught me of His mercy even to those who don't believe in Him. Even at His dying moment Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." I too fell into disbelief as a youth and young adult but it was the Holy Spirit that brought me back to God. I am currently serving as a youth pastor at my church and been serving my Lord and King Jesus Christ for over eight years now. Men will loose faith but God will remain faithful. Did not Peter also turn his back on Christ and denied knowing the Lord. We need to pray for this man and his family. We need to weep for souls that are not hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • sleepytime

      That's a sad story. I'm sorry to hear you were never able to break free of the cult you were raised in.

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

      It's not a coincidence that indoctrination into the cult begins with the first ritual shortly after birth. The longer someone is under the cult's control, the more difficult it is to summon the will to break free. It *is* sad.

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

      Pray? why? If measured based on perceived answered prayers you'd have an effective success rate of less than 1%. So you would accept essentially an unmeasurable success rate as proof prayer works, while writing the other 99+% failure rate as merely the "will of god"? there's something called naive realism – look into it.....

      June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Wraith

      No, Neal, you do not need to weep. Nor do you need to pray for them. What you need to do is leave them alone, as they leave you alone, and understand that there is desire for both freedom of, and a freedom from, religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      16 and 14 huh? a said admission of child abuse if ever there was one.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  20. fritz

    There was a time that these people these Christians could bring us up on charges of heresy, bring us to trial before a religious tribunal, convict us, then hang us, drown us or even burn us alive as an act to purify our souls by fire. Once the law caught up with religion they could no longer hurt us so they resorted to threats of hell-and the devil to scare us into believing. Now they attack us in other ways involving shunning and other dscriminating practices like deriding our belief in science and evolution. I applaud these agnostics, atheists and humanists for raising us up and freeing our minds from religious darkness and bringing us into the light of reason.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Ah yes evolution. It just happened. No of course it's science and not faith. Ever heard of the Cambrian explosion? I thought so.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Jim

      There still is a day in quite a few parts of the world where these atheists can round us up, torture us, drown us, take away our freedoms, take our children, starve us to death, put us in moder-day concentration camps – all because we believe something you atheists don't like.

      That sword you weild is double-edged and you seem to not understand it well. It is easier to use on your argument than on others.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Hawk

      @MrHanson – Yes, I have heard of the Cambrian Explosion, and there are many theories as to why it happened. We are still working to find out which theory, or combination of theories is the most likely scenario for what actually happened. Is that a problem?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Jim
      Torture, internment camps, taking away freedoms, starvation -- sounds like a witch hunt, or crusade, or inquisition, or holocaust. But religious people would never do any of the things, right?
      It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • MrHanson

      @Hawk. No, I don't have a problem with the so called "science" of trying to figure out how these complex organisms with complex eyes, articulated limbs, nervous systems, digestive systems, etc.. just popped into existance. What I do have a problem with is people like you constantly accusing people who don't believe in your purposeless worldview of being ignorant, stupid, anti-science, bigoted, simple minded, etc., etc. without recognizing that what you believe in requires faith. And a fundamental faith at that.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "What I do have a problem with is people like you constantly accusing people who don't believe in your purposeless worldview of being ignorant, stupid, anti-science, bigoted, simple minded, etc., etc"

      oh I would say we say that because people like you also say silly things like "complex organisms with complex eyes, articulated limbs, nervous systems, digestive systems, etc.. just popped into existance" as if that is indeed what is claimed.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:26 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.