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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. Age Of Enlightenment

    Interesting, but not surprising, that money is one of the biggest reasons that religious leaders continue to pretend that their message is true. The more they learn the more they know it's just a sham, yet they continue to preach away. I wish the best for Jerry and those like him that are brave enough to embrace the actual truth vs. the lies that have been propagated by churches and families for thousands of years.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Leigh2

      Uh, hello? You actually think these former pastors aren't making money from what they're doing?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Deb

      @FastEddy. YOU prove God exists. The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. That is why we believe in dinosaurs, the scientist exhibited proof, without tangible evidence they would be a myth just like unicorns, pixies, and fairies. Big Foot is not real, til someone provides solid proof (video, pictures or multiple people seeing it. You must prove that there's something from nothing, and you can't. That's why religious people try to reverse it to the Atheist just like they try everything else. Well, now prove it, you have the stage.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  2. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    I know many atheists who are as ferverent and preachy as any southern baptist reborn.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      we, except we 'preach' facts and logic.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • FastEddie

      Therefore god exists.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Barff

      @Cooper I have never had any Atheist come to my house asking for donations or trying to make me a nonbeliever. However I have had MANY different religions try to make me feel guilty that I do not believe as they do. Take the money away and I guarantee that Religion will soon follow.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • matter-of-fact

      "Atheists" believe in reason and logic, using tools such as evidence, facts, and probability.If you call that religion, so be it. Spread it around!

      June 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Damo

      Then you likely know many secular humanists. We do not believe in any gods or demons, and instead believe that people should focus their lives on helping others and helping humanity as a whole. Religion has done and continues to do a great deal of harm. Helping people to move past religion is a way of aiding your fellow man.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • mothernature

      @Damo...Human Secularist and Agnostic are just words for a cowardly Atheists. They preach the same good, but are proud to call a spade a spade.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  3. Neal

    My grandmother was in a car wreck that left her paralyzed and the doctors said she would never walk again. One evening she went to a revival meeting seeking a touch from the Healer. She believed in the Healing power of Jesus Christ. She got out of that wheel chair that night and walked. My cousin dying with cancer in her kidney all hope lost. Until a preacher sent by God came to her and prayed for her. She was completely healed. Medical science could not account for what has happened to them these things are impossible. But we know that there is nothing to hard for God.

    We all can keep going on back and forth debating our beliefs. You dare not believe in God? I dare you to ask God to reveal Himself to you. You want to truth then just ask. Don't be afraid to ask God if He's real. He will reveal
    Himself to you.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      lies. sorry, but you're not being honest. faith healing doesn't work. if it does, here's a question for you:

      how come god never heals amputees?

      the short answer is because you can't fake missing a limb. you can fake blindness and lameness, but not being an amputee.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      Lying for Jesus, Neal? How Christian of you.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Hawk

      Which god Neil? There are so many...Zeus, Odin, Ra.... Of all the god that have existed over the centuries, why is your god the correct one? Surely the followers of Zeus felt just a fervently in him as you do in Jesus. I have no problem with you believing in whatever god(s) you wish to worship, but I don't believe in him/them. Now, if there was some actual proof, then perhaps I would, but there isn't.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Jake

      Ok. I did like you said and asked but it went right to voicemail.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  4. FastEddie

    There is a microscopic teapot orbiting Saturn. Since this claim cannot be proven or disproven, I am agnostic on the matter.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Dorf

      And you would be well to be agnostic on this. Since it is microscopic, it is not unthinkable that there exists an arrangement of atoms in the shape of a teapot.

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

      The burned of proof is on the person who utters a statement. What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. You’ve stated there is a teapot orbiting Saturn. Where is your evidence? Since there is no evidence, I am an atheist when it comes to this matter.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  5. slupdawg

    Maybe this guy's finally coming to his senses. More likely, he's found another way to fleece people in the name of (non) religion. A new niche market.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  6. blaylack

    I dont believe in organized religion, but that won't stop me from believing in God. How does believing in nothing make you relavant anyway? Can CNN post more interesting news? This stuff is boring!

    June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      How does believing in god make you relevant?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      Thanks for demonstrating your ignorance of atheism so succinctly. The holier than thou hypocrisy was a nice touch too.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      who says atheists believe in nothing? i believe in my fiance, i believe in my family, my friends, i believe in humanity, love, compassion and logic. if you think the only thing we can have 'faith' in is god, i feel sorry for you.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Damo

      Moving toward an absence of something that has been prevalent is important.

      When the number of people diagnosed with a disease goes down, it's newsworthy. When less people vote, it's newsworthy. Similar concept at play here.

      I know I for one was curious as to what the heck long-time preachers can do careerwise after coming out as atheists. It's nice to know there's an organization trying to help them get work.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • matter-of-fact

      "Atheists" believe in reason and logic, using tools such as evidence, facts, and probability. That, my friend, is not "nothing".

      June 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • mothernature

      @Blalack at least a non-believer wastes not his time.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • backatya

      @Blaylack...hows that working for you, buddy?

      June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  7. Mymaria

    People's proof that God doesn't exist is because they prayed for someone to be healed-and it didn't happen here on Earth? If your friend or relative WAS healed and then died 30 years later, is that OK in your eyes? We ALL die. No matter what. Nobody is guaranteed another day on this planet. Is God only answering prayers if everyone lives to be 90? 80? What's the magic number? Is it 'fair' that someone lives to be 90 but not fair that someone only lives 89 years and six months? What's the cut-off point in your eyes? So your only proof is some random number you have in your head. People passing away earlier than their friends/relatives think they should is a blessing to those who are believers. I am only 46 and so is my husband and I would consider it a HUGE blessing if either of us passed away because we'd be with Christ and would be avoiding all the stuff that's coming to hit the fan soon.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Ginny

      Others might think happy thoughts about you too Mymaria, if you "passed" and stopped making inane posts here. Just not for the same reasons.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Humanist11

      I hope that you do not have kids. If you do, I hope you do not teach your kids that line of thought. Don't steal their lives from them too.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Mymaria

      Yes I do have an adult child who is a believer too! Thank you for asking.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Seriously?

      Ahh the Mother Theresa defense. Let's abandon medicine, doesn't matter if they're 1 year or 100 years, we're all going to see God anyways right? Why treat anybody at all? Even if they're just children and their ailment is easily curable, screw it! They're going to Jesus! We should all just hope for death right now! Why wait to enter the kingdom of heaven?

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

      christian science much? you sound like someone that would let their daughter die from appendicitis and say it was god's will.

      do yourself a favor (and us) - build a time machine and set it for the Dark Ages. you'll be right at home there.

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

      Thank you for so clearly capturing the essence of the mental derangement that is called faith. A 'blessing to pass away.' You are a sick, sad individual.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Racheln24

      I will pray for you Ginny.

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

      People's proof that God is not real is that there is no proof that he is.

      The same as with Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

      If you can provide scientific evidence to the contrary we will happily analyze it and rethink our stance. But I don't believe in things with no basis in fact, just because other people do, or because it's easier to say "magic did it" than "I don't know why that happened".

      June 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      Bad parenting mymaria. Children should never be exposed to organized religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Mymaria

      I totally believe in modern medicine and have used it myself when I was seriously ill. I have absolutely no problem with it-God can use doctors and their vast knowledge to heal people. I am very thankful for their skills. For a believer, death is a reward. You do not see it that way. I am not going to call you names or cut you down because of it.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Kyle

      "For a believer, death is a reward." I sincerely hope you and the like minded sheep in your death cult get your wish. There is no reaching people as deeply disturbed as you, and the world will be much better off without you.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Racheln24

      Can you PROVE the inexistence of God.. I think not... just as believers can't PROVE that he exists... End of argument.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Mymaria

      Kyle, I hope you have a blessed day!

      June 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      Rachel...proof is on the believer. One doesn't try to prove something DOES NOT exist. You try to prove something DOES exist. Think Big Foot. Or better yet, just think

      June 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Kyle

      Thanks! I hope you and your husband are killed in a traffic accident; it's what you want after all.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Damo

      Can I prove that gods don't exist? No. Notice that I used a plural there. I can't prove that the god you believe in doesn't exist. And you can't prove that all the other gods people have worshiped don't exist. Why don't you worship them?

      I can't prove that there's no invisible pink unicorns in the room with me right now. So should I believe in them?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Mymaria

      Well Kyle, if we are killed on our way to church tonight, then we will wake up in Heaven. Thanks for the kind wishes.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Kim46703

      Maria I'm glad you didn't take the bait and attack back. Some of the things people said were downright rude and obnoxious-and dare I say it-intolerant....

      June 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Damo

      Mymaria is being very intolerant by believing in one god instead of all the ones she can't disprove.

      We're not that different. People have dreamed up lots of gods over the years, I just believe in one less than you.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • mymaria

      I'm intolerant because I only because in Jesus, the son of God? If that makes me intolerant then so be it. Have a blessed day!

      June 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      Kim...you can't attack when you have no ammunition.

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

      @MyMaria..that has got to be the stupidist comment I heard on here yet, YOU CALL THAT PROOF? All you said is someone told me to do and act a certain way, and I did. Lame !

      June 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Kim46703

      What I meant by attack was to return less than stellar comments with more of the same. Several people wishes she would die and disappear? Who says that kind of stuff, especially to total strangers? She believes in one God, you either believe in none or hundreds of them. Is attacking her with vile language going to change her mind? Would you feel better if she turned around and used your same arguments against you? She believes-you don't. You won't change her mind and she won't change yours. So the easy way out is to call her names and tell her the world would be a better place without her? Classy.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • backatya

      @Racheln24 Sorry dear, YOU have the burden of proof since your making the statement of Gods existence, not the non-believer. You are claiming that's there's something, now show proof. You certainly would not believe that fierce, flesh and plant eating giant lizards controlled the planet at one time, but since scientists and paleontologists have the bones and fossils as proof, They therefor ARE real. Now honey, show us your proof or keep your thoughts to yourself and quit trying to stifle our RIGHTS.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • backatya

      @Racheln24 & MyMaria...It is obvious you just repeat what you are told, hold on to the first implant in your mind. . I as a non-believer could fight a better fight for God than your doing. But Alas the Atheists always win because all you have is words. NOT PROOF.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Deb

      @Kim46703 If MyMaria wants to put forth a statement and cast judgement on others, she damn well better get her big girl panties out and take it. We all have different thoughts, but one thing we have in common are "RIGHTS".

      June 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Deb

      @Kim46703 stop being an A*S. No ones hopes she dies, he merely stated that he hope she gets what she so desires so whole heartily.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Deb

      @MyMaria...OF COURSE your daughter is a believer. You implanted your ideas and beliefs in her, just like your parents did to you. That's called religion !

      June 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Mymaria

      With all due respect, where did I cast judgment? I have been judged 100 times worse than I have 'judged' anyone here. And just FYI, I was not raised in a religious household. And my daughter is in her 20's, well past the age where she just does what her parents tell her to do. Again, I have been nothing but civil and have had horrible things said about me. I will be praying for each and every one of you tonight. And since your goal was to get me to shut up, I am finished responding to this thread. God bless you all!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  8. AverageJoe76

    As a child, I was told God is love and God is forgiving. Strange.......... especially since he sends David to slaughter whole cities in God's name. Oh, and how about, 'the world's full of evil, so I'm gonna cause a great flood and start over with the drunk and his family". Or this, "Hey first born, gotta prove a point, so I gotts kill ya". Everybody loves a gangster, I guess.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  9. neveryoumind

    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.”

    Oh my . . . how "christian" of them.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  10. Pilgrim

    The fool has said in his heart, that there is no God

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

      The fool has said that there is a god.

      There, see, others can fling insults too, without supporting them.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      The true fools are the ones who say they know the mind of god

      June 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Deb

      @Pilgrem And the BIGGER FOOL wastes their time on fantasies.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  11. Evangelical

    Atheists are so arrogant and egotistical that they think that they know more than literally thousands of years of scholars.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      Theists are so arrogant as to believe they know the mind of god

      June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Evangelical -

      By "scholars" do you mean ignorant Bronze and Iron Age desert tribes who didn't know where the sun went at night?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      your thousands of years of scholars came up with kill g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone working the weekend. your scholars came out in support of slavery. your 'scholars' said the world was flat. your scholars recount stories with talking donkeys and snakes.

      i think you need to look up the word "scholar". yeah, i'd say we know more today than the bronze/iron age religious zealots that wrote the bible.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Evangelical

      I'm talking thousands of years of scholars up through and including the present day.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      Evangelical: I don't give a steaming dump how many scholars you are speaking about

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • neveryoumind

      "Atheists are so arrogant and egotistical that they think that they know more than literally thousands of years of scholars."

      Thousands of years of scholarly LIES, THREATS and DECEIT you mean . . . the hocus pocus stuff didn't work then and it won't work now . . . religion is a phony money-making adventure that should be totally shut down. You need to have your brain UN-washed.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      It's more like; why do you believe in 2,000 yr old information that can't be confirmed, as opposed to the UPDATED information being found by today's science community? The faithful have placed mental blocks on themselves, and have refused to accept any information contridicting thier faith. And that's just dumb.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Snow

      Oldest books written in hinduism are over 10000 yrs old (Rig veda). They have more scholarly works in 3000 BC than the entire judeo christian literature put together today.. By your logic, they have the best philosophy and is better than bible.. so when are you becoming a hindu?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      Yes, just like for thousands of years people believed the earth was flat and the sun revolved around it.
      Arrogance is believing something you can't prove.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Well, in part its because those thousands of years worth of scholars have so far failed to present one bit of actual direct proof for the existence of any god.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • mickey1313

      You cannot be a " scholar" of religion, out side of something like comparative mythology, or philosophy. Scholars study facts, our how the belief affects the word. Their is no evidence anywhere in the world that it true, just like there is no proof of Zeus, or ra, out beck it is as likely that cuthulu is real as it is that yhvh is real.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Kyle

      No, just credulous adults who maintain a relationship with an imaginary friend.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Evangelical' is an instance of the ad populum fallacy, with ad hominem elements.

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

      June 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Evangelical -

      Then I'll assume you talking about biblical scholars, not the kind of scholars that actually are responsible for meaningful increase in our body of knowledge and genuine progress.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Really-O?

      you = you are

      June 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Damo

      Ah. "It's been done this way for a long time, therefore it's right." I hope you say that while naked, with someone else doing the typing for you. Obviously you're a hunter-gatherer that can't use technology, right? I mean, that's the way modern humans did it for 190,000 years, therefore it MUST be right! I'm sure you aren't vaccinated, right? We only came up with crude vaccinations in the 16th century, and modern man has existed for roughly 200,000 years, meaning that the RIGHT way to handle disease is to try to pray it away, because that's what mankind did for the longest amount of time.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Deb

      Yes we do because they(scholars) based their tales on gossip, not facts. period.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  12. Racheln24

    Whatever you CHOOSE to believe is your belief.. let's leave it at that. You aren't going to change my mind, and I'm not going to change yours.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Ginny

      So, Racheln, if someone proved an argument you made to be wrong, you would still keep making it?

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

      I'd love for this to be how it is....unfortunately, religious people can't leave it alone and take it to the extent of trying to legislate their version of morality.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Racheln24

      What I want to know is how you can PROVE anything Ginny.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Humanist11

      Except that many people who were religious are changing their minds and younger generations are rejecting religion earlier in life. Access to information and education is doing wonders for normal people.

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

      @Racheln I can PROVE many things...Like the existence of dinosaurs, That the earth is round, that there are stars, that I bleed, etc, etc. Now you prove that God is real.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  13. sleepytime

    Sandusky is a Christian.

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

      I'm glad he won't be going to hell then.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  14. Where can I apply?

    This God business seems like a pretty sweet deal, whenever something good happens all praise goes to him, whenever something bad happens it's on us and this pesky "free will" that we have. It's a win-win. Wish I could get a gig like that.

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

      Imagine that you have a loved one dying in the hospital and you pray every day for that person to get well – depending on the outcome, it's still a win-win because if the person lives, you're prayers were answered, praise the lord....if the person dies, oh well, it was all part of god's plan.

      These childish justifications that religious people employ to explain natural life events, like death, are just par for the course when it comes to religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • QS

      "your prayers" – oops! :-)

      June 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • steamboat willy

      Kinda like Obama, if things go well, good for Obama, if things go bad, It's Bush's fault.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • backatya

      @where can I Apply*** God has it better than that. According to believers, If they pray over someone dying, and that person lives.."IT'S A FRIGGING MIRACLE", but on the other hand if that person dies, "WELL IT"S GODS WILL" he wins no matter what, just what the believers want !

      June 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  15. Dan

    I admire the pastor's courage in coming out and admitting his atheism. The ridiculouslessness and hypocrisy
    of organized religion finally woke him up.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Age Of Enlightenment

      Too bad there's no 'Like' button. Consider your post 'Like'd.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  16. EPAB

    Recovering From Religion is a much needed organization. May it flourish and bring help to those who are addicted to the unfathomable draw of religion.

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

      Indeed. Religion is a drug like any other...the sense of self-righteousness and self-importance can be quite addictive. And like any other drug, religion requires rehab of sorts for some people to be able to get over it and move on.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • backatya

      @Ted and thats what you think of Atheists? son, you better put yourself in the company of REAL Atheists and really learn what they believe and feel. You are way off track.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  17. Ted

    Talking about God, is talking about him non the less.

    I love it when Atheist claim they aren't religious. This article is proof that it actually at evangelical state now.

    Did Jerry die on Lazy Boy Recliner for your sins?

    No but Jesus did.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Only the truly ignorant thing no belief is a religion, are you high, or just foolish?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • sleepytime

      Sounds like you don't know what the word "religious" means.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Jason

      Jesus died in the most humiliating way possible during that era because he f-ed with the Roman Empire.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Talking about something doesn't make that thing exist or mean one believes in that thing. Do you believe any character on TV must exist because you've talked about them?

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

      OooOooOoo.....siiiiin....quick, everybody kneel!

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

      Jesus died on a Lazy Boy? I guess that is in the new King James version of the new, new testament. You would think that such a precious book would have gotten through the editorial process a few hundred years ago.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Humanist11

      If atheism is a religion then bald is a hair color. We simply don't believe in any god. We do not worship an idol or supernatural being of any type.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Jason, you are correct Jesus died in the most horrible way possible because he crossed the authorities. Then as the message spread of His redeeming grace and forgiveness of His persecutors, people realized what he had been saying. Within a few generations, Rome became the center of Jesus' church. Kind of interesting don't you think how a simple carpenter overthrew the greatest empire on the planet? Without His victory we might all still be living under Caeser.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • backatya

      @Jason--Many many people suffered and died by crucifixion, why did they choose just one man when they all suffered.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • backatya

      @Bill Decon...I saw ya commenting on the rouge nuns, too, Not doing much better on this blog, either. Jesus was nothing special, thousands died the same way, They just happen to use his death to brain-wash the people.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  18. Someone

    What this translates to is : We follow Sandusky! No God, so no morals!

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

      Morals we actually accept don't come from religion.

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

      You realize Sandusky is a Christian, right?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Jason

      Does your morals also include glorifying genocide, torturing the innocent, and beating up children?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • misseileenh

      I am very tired of people telling me I have no morals because I'm an atheist. It's an insulting slur, and it's completely false.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Snow

      you are an idiot to think that morality comes only from god

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

      I guess Someone never finished grade school, or they would have learned that morality and religion are not the same thing.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • QS

      Religion and morality are NOT synonymous, no matter how much somebody may want them to be or believe them to be.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      The morality of an athiest has led to the largest private nonprofit charitable organization in the world.

      The morality of a religious person had planes flying into buildings.

      Logic. Fail.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Joshua Ludd

      No, dear. Only theists actually believe that they need god to be moral, which says a lot about them. Sandusky, no surprise, is a christian. As was every single pedophile priest. Sure, there are atheist child molesters and rapists... but believing in a god doesn't tend to stop one from doing terrible things.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Age Of Enlightenment

      More immoral acts have been committed in the name of religion than anything else. Religion does NOT equal Morality.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Humanist11

      Atheists follow morals that have been handed down through evolution. Humans that did not have acceptable morals in society usually did not live long and did not procreate as much. The bible did not create morals, nor does it have a monopoly on them. They existed long before the bible was ever written.

      I suggest atheists have better morals than religious people because we have to be personally responsible for our actions. Religious people can fall back on their religious book or simply ask for forgiveness once a week. I trust atheists much more than religious folks.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • backatya

      You are crazy to think that without God we would be running around killing and raping, stealing etc. Maybe you need to find a new group of Neanderthals to run with. As we evolved we found and applied many more morals not from the bible. Racism, rights for women, children and other minorities, etc. etc. Your God didn't treat women, slaves or children very good.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  19. Mick

    What I don't get is why people think they have to go to religious gatherings to pray and worship God? If God is everywhere and listens to everyone, then what is the need for churches after someone has been saved by baptism, other than a form of social control over society. I don't have a problem with religious beliefs, it's the religious organizations that corrupt those beliefs.

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

      It's actually very simple for Christians. The New Testament repeatedly speaks of assembling together as the body of Christ to pray and worship. Now, if you don't accept the Bible as truth, that's another matter.

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

      Amen!! I totally agree with you.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Copper's Donut Shoppe

      When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9.
      The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Age Of Enlightenment

      Copper's Donut Shoppe: Too funny! Thanks for that! :)

      June 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • backatya

      @Mike......because it's easier to make people feel guilty for not donating money. If you say it's OK to pray on your own "NO MONEY".

      June 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Lord Vokk

      A church is still useful today, IF it really is a church....so many new age churches are feel good organizations and not really churches. A church is about much more than just a gathering once a week to worship, its about the bonding of like minded people for the betterment of the community. I would suggest the book of ACTS to truely understand the purpose and reason behind what a church should be. In some ways, I see churches role even more important given the state of our society.

      LV

      June 14, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  20. Sith Lord

    possibly he had a Chemical imbalance affecting some regions of his brain.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
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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.