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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. kindness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Trancsend the temporal world.

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

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

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

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

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

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

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

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

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

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

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

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

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

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

    June 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • ...

      report abuse on this garbage

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

      Yikes!

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

      When ever I need religious afirmation, I go read Leviticus. I find it really reinforces my feelings regarding religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  2. DJR

    I love it. I advert my eyes all about town. Shame of the soul, is so easy to see. What I BELIEVE even more, is if you fear being seen now, imagine this GOD, will have you stand before HIM. And HE expects to be feared, and will be. The BIBLE says so (interesting) Looking all around we can see the man god, the created god, the gods that GOD told Moses of when HE said I AM the GOD of all gods. ( the BIBLE teaches so) It so hilarious that the only thing people can hope and believe in is fellow, crooked, abusive, vicious, cheating, lying, killing, thieving, mankind. Oh and money! Don't forget money! (BIBLE says it's so) We'll reach perfection some day. NEVER! It's not in our nature, and GOD instilled it in us to need HIM. I see suffering in this story. GOD does not care about death, HE created it. HE does not care about religiosity but your heart, Do you serve HIM, love HIM, know HIM, seek HIM. IN all decisions do you think WWJD? How does GOD tell us to cope? Are our eyes on JESUS, HIS teachings HIS direction in living. If yes, then you will be tested, abused, shunned, accused, and despised. And Christians are taught that and receive that. (interesting) And the answer to the great question. It is a known SCIENTIFIC fact that in the universe there is an opposite to all things. Cold, hot, positive, negative, great singers, can't sing at all, tall, short, evil and GOOD. Man loves evil! It's taught in the BIBLE. ( interesting) It's easy to preach evil and against good, And when has anything that is easy been seen as an achievement?! Thats what we want today. We want it easy, fare, fun simple, It never ever ever is. The BIBLE teaches so. (interesting)

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

      It's EASY to delude yourself about the existence of god and heaven. It's HARD to face the real world as it is.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Battsman

      Using cold and hot as examples of "scientific opposits" would demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of science. What is "cold?" What is "Hot?" These are relative labels, not states.

      I'll also observe that the Bible says a lot of things that are provably false. Similarly, there are plenty of direct contradictions in the Bible. Using the argument "The Bible says so" is actually just as amusing to many of us as some as some of the personal quandries you noted in your comment apparently are for you.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Benjamin

      Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to asssit with SEO? I92m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I92m not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share. Cheers!

      October 8, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  3. BoldGeorge

    1st Timothy 4: 1, 2 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the INSINCERITY OF LIARS whose consciences are seared...

    My friends, it's not that these ex-believers feel they have been duped into believing at some point in their lives, but it is most certainly the other way around. After believing, they have been duped into unbelieving. It's rather obvious that they believed at some point (obviously, in the initial stages of their faith). They then fell away and started unbelieving the Bible. I guess it was too much for them. Who knows. I, do however, feel that some of them are just being honest about their unbelief even when they were declaring themselves to be believers. And this is the very reason why Christianity is the way it is today. There are many false teachers in leadership positions in the church today that should not be there to begin with. The very hypocritical doctrine they teach will be flawed from the very root.

    And this is anything but news. This has been going on say......for millenniums? Judas Iscariot walked, talked and dined with Jesus for 3 years. While doing that, he never believed in Him and even betrayed Him with a kiss...oh how tender. Many of the apostles (like Paul) had disciples that fell away from the faith and left his ministry. And let's go even further back to Moses' times. Many saw God's power manifest through Him yet many were still rebelling against God. Falling away is nothing new my friends. Makes one wonder why CNN is 'promoting' this.

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

      Isn't it just as possible they had doubts through-out and finally stopped ignoring them? I don't think either of us can make a definitive statement about their starting point or net result that isn't predicated on our personal "beliefs"

      June 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  4. blahblahblah

    2 Peter 2: 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire."

    June 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  5. Why I Believe

    My faith is based on events and experiences, not on a preacher or a sermon. God is there my friends, but maybe not in the conventional ways of organized religion. I also believe God offers all of us the chances to experience his presence, but we're so caught up in other things we're not catching that. While I don't down anyone for their beliefs, I do think if you're hellbent on speaking out against God, there is a lot more chance you'll miss those oportunities to build that relationship. I went through times of question, still have them, but something will always happen that strengthens me. Too many people see "church" or "God" as a way out, or a quick hand-me-out. Pray for money you'll be rich, pray for a job, you'll be a millionaire. I don't see anything material in God's blessings, and that's what so many are looking for.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  6. BEWARE OF WOLVES

    There will always be wolves in sheeps clothing. I guess his sheep costume got to hot or to small.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Snow

      he should learn from the pope.. he's been sucking it in for so long..

      June 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  7. GayAtheist

    Know Jesus, No Peace.

    It's time to support the seperation of church and hate.

    DUMP CHRIST!

    June 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Racheln24

      Seriously, not all Christians believe that Gays are going to Hell.. if they do, they're being hypocritical. God does NOT equal HATE. If anything, you should want to set an example of love and acceptance.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  8. guest

    stop quoting the bible.....it is a book written in the context of the time (2000 years ago) and has gone through an endless game of telephone being translated throughout history.....so literal translation is idiotic.....i am active believer in God....not man....

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

      You believe in a God that is unable to make sure that his revelation is reliable? Some god...

      June 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  9. awakenings

    It's about time . Humans are beginning to evolve from man made words & stories that have forced us to believe in what the higher up's want . I would be proud to call Jerry Dewitt my friend for coming to his conclusion . I personally could never believe in a god who allows famines , wars , death , scare tactics & the rich who stab people in the back to get what they want . I am happy to say I never believed and no , I am not missing anything from my life . Thanks Jerry & those whose follow , Peace be with you .

    June 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Why I Believe

      There is good and evil and in the world. It's the evil causing the wars, famines, etc, not God.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  10. mothernature

    @BootyFunk that's the problem with religion, they think their the only ones who can use words such as faith, lone, compassion, belief etc. It drives me crazy that I wear some jewelry that represents a cross, right away they assume 'm religious, when In fact it is just a piece of art to me. Just because JESUS was crucified on a cross does not make crosses exclusive for religion. Many many people died the same way, were's the reverence for them?

    June 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  11. Omar

    Don't argue with the unbelievers. For they all shall soon tremble, and in turn believe, in the presence of the coming Lord. A fool will always be foolish. For those that do believe, Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy and worship Him who made heaven and earth. The counterfeit sabbth, Sunday, is the Mark of the papacy and you give allegiance to her and not God. Sunday IS the Mark of the Beast and will soon be enforced on all. Give you allegiance to God and worship on His day rather than the counterfeit Sunday-sabbath which si a command of man. The bible is to be STUDIED, not read.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Steve

      That's fine. Just don't crash airplanes into buildings please. I have seen your kind do it...

      June 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Omar' is a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.

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

      June 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      You don't seem scary or teetering on the brink of sanity at all, friend.

      I think I'll back away slowly now.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      Get off your knees, slave

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

      @Omar....Prove to me Gods exists without words, you can't, words and gossip are all you have, you might as well have read the Enquirer, your neighbor just had a extra-terrestrial baby with 3 eyes. You have the burden of proof since you are trying to make something out of nothing. I can show you a dinosaurs skeleton, proof that they existed. I can say I heard of fairies or dragons, but there is no proof to the fact. You can spew all the gossip and stories you have ever heard but that's what your left with. I love how vigorously men defend the works of God, but in reality your God did very little for women and put men in great places. Gee, maybe because it was written by a bunch of gauty old scholars who wanted the world to revolve around them.

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

      Complete bullsheite. People who think like you do have been a pimple on the world's behind for thousands of years, doing psychological damage to children and any gullible grown adults you can pull in......All for literally NOTHING. It's all fake, phony, fictional, ridiculous nonsense. Period. That's why nothing ever happens when you pray, and it's why your messiah isn't ever coming back. Accept your mortality and move on, already. No one knows why we're here and what it all means, if anything. Why is that so hard to roll with?

      June 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • revo74

      You wrote: "Don't argue with the unbelievers. For they all shall soon tremble...."

      People have been spewing this nonsense for many centuries. When will this "soon" finally happen? Seems to me like that time has come and passed long, long ago. It will be another 2,000 years and people will continue to be saying such nonsense.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      You must be a 7 Day Adventist. I dated a girl who was for a few years, and she had separated from her church but told me about their beliefs... from Saturday being the 'real' sabbath day and Catholics worshiping the pope, the Anti-Christ. I also heard that there were videos made by your church that put down other religious practices- including meditation.
      I have to say, your belief that the majority of people are going to Hell is very UN Christian.
      I cannot be part of such a narrow minded religion. You follow the God of Israel, a tiny fly speck land in the Middle East, and pretend that Jesus was a white man. Its simply ridiculous. If I believed in a God, it would be a universal God. Not the God of Israel, or the Earth, or the Milky Way... but of all the galaxies and suns and black holes and worlds. Compared to that, your God is PUNY. So, yea, then my God can easily beat up yours.
      Get a grip. The Universe / Multi-verse is Enormous. Your views on how everyone else should behave is utterly pointless. We will not behave as you dictate. Ever.
      The time of religion controlling Mankind was called the Dark Ages in Europe. It was vanquished by the Light of Reason in the Enlightenment. Men in Europe finally put away their ridiculous beliefs and crawled out of their cave into the light of true understanding of the Universe. You would like us to crawl back into the cave with you. NEVER! Crawl back in if you must, but do not ask the rest of us to do so.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  12. mor

    Looks to me like he is just a liar that has been hiding out living of the money of a congregation or more for a long time... If you preach something you don't believe in – you are a liar... With the exception of muslims – I know of no faith that forces you to remain in the faith... he could have quit at any time. He just did not want to give up the income.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Steve

      Actually, this story is not uncommon. I used to be a believer as well. I did not choose to become a non-believer. It just so happened as the more I read (trying to become a better Christian as a matter of fact), the less I believed. Eventually, I realized I could not call myself a Christian anymore. That process took years. Don't accuse me of lying. I clearly was not. Luckily, I was not a preacher. But if I had been and that was the only thing I knew how to do, I most likely would have kept on preaching. I have a family to feed.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • mothernature

      Not so I preached and spread the word of Catholicism for many years, then I just god sick of defending a god who is as much out of touch as Mitt Romney. How can I defend the fact that god saved a serial killer at his execution, but ignored your dying little brother? It doesn't make sense. It always has a twisted way of protecting each action taken..If I pray for a dying woman, and she survives...It's a fu*king miracle !!!! If she dies, it's the will of god...you just can't have it both ways.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Mor: You'd know this how?

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

      Mothernature – "you can't have it both ways" – Exactly. Your observation is exactly what I think of every time I hear about "the power of prayer." I'm agnostic – I find it very, very, very hard to believe in the standard Christian theology – I'm not going to say that I can definitively say that there is not a higher power, but I'm hard pressed to see that higher power actively involved in day to day upkeep of the world... If said being is – said being must really have a twisted and/or perverse perspective.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  13. Adam

    Since so many people disagree over where Obama was born, I will choose to believe he doesn't exist. There are just so many different ideas about it, it must mean no one knows what they're talking about and Obama is make-believe.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  14. Atheists get out

    Atheists are unAmerican. Get the hell out of my country! Go to Iran or Saudi Arabia and see how long you'd last there.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Battsman

      Mature. Inciteful. Intelligent. Briliant even.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Devin

      You seem like a real christian person. I'm not religious but I forgive and accept you anyway despite your hate.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      Come and get me, C word

      June 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Ryan

      So many "Americans" are too quick to forget our short history. We are a country founded on religious freedom, which means the right to practice any religion you want and certainly the right to have no religion whatsoever. It is small minded people like you who have ruined our country.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • pete

      What is unAmerican about being Atheist?

      June 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • leonid7

      This sounds like something monty python would say.

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

      Translation: "Being a little smarter than average is evil!"

      June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • revo74

      The founding fathers, such as: Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and Paine were deists who thought religion was man made. So the notion that America, a secular nation, founded by non-theists is a nation for only believers is absurd.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      Atheists are the ones who continue to lead this Nation with advancements in science and engineering.
      You want to create a theocracy, JUST like that found in Iran. Tell you what, why dont YOU pack up and move there buddy...

      June 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Unamerican? Who are you to say someone is unamerican? For all of your beliefs, you spend your time writing on a blog you're no better than anyone else NO MATTER what fantasy you believe.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  15. Robert

    So he wants to make money off telling people he believes in nothing.

    And this is different from televangelists how?

    June 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • David M

      And he'll probably make more than the tele-evangelist!

      June 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      He does not purport to speak for god

      June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  16. richardmachine

    Now that technology has reached a point that the younger generations have access (for the first time in human history) to all the facts about other cultures, their beliefs, their history, etc., you can bet that they'll examine, compare, and put 2 and 2 together. And you know what that means for religion: It's over, Johnny, it's over!

    June 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  17. Arleen

    Sad, just sad how one can turn around & claim to be an athiest – funny, to dis-belive, you gotta believe 1st. Consequences of falling out of grace are big..... shame to loose what was given to you as a free gift (salvation).

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

      LOL! That you think anything you may have been "given" by religion or belief was free is telling.

      But beyond that, can people seriously learn the difference between "loose" and "lose"?!

      June 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Arleen: Funny how after all the evidence that is available at your finger tips, you still fail to see the idiocy of your belief. People are born Atheist and then are taught a belief in god (brainwashed). The fact that you don't care that you believe is true does not mean the remainder of the world can't care. Time to grow up little girl and leave your imaginary friend in your childhood.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  18. David M

    Christians believe there is a heaven/hell/God, etc. Athiests don't believe that. So, Christians have one kind of faith, athiests have another. Either way, you both have faith.

    Interesting that athiests state as a fact that there is not God, no hell, no heaven, because they say Christians can't "prove" it. Yet the athiests can disprove God, hell, or heaven. So how is it that you state with such certainty that they don't exist? Saying or believing that something is true or not, is not what makes it true or false. Either it is or it isn't, and you reach a point that you have to decide for yourself.

    Just because some alleged pastor has changed his mind does not cause me to reconsider what I believe. If I'm wrong, I have lost nothing, because according to the athiest, nothing exists after death. If the athiest is wrong, he has lost eternity, but has won hell.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • David M

      I meant to say the athiest CAN'T disprove.....

      June 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • leonid7

      The burden of proof is those who believe, not those who don't. I can't disprove the existence of Santa, either, I lack a belief in his existence. Lack of of belief is not belief.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • wang

      To leonid: The burden of proof is those who believe, not those who don't.

      Really? Just because you say so? Try again with a more cogent argument tool.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      David: We can both be wrong, and you would be as in as much hot water as you claim atheists would be under the judgement of your god

      June 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wang: Okay, prove there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Snow

      Here is a simple thought exercise David.. If you go to a bank and say that you have a diamond worth 10 million.. would they ask you to prove that you have it? or would you ask them to disprove that you do not have it? based on that argument, try to get a loan on that diamond.

      Burden of proof always lies on the person claiming that there is something in nothing.. not that something does not exist.

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

      I've heard this argument before, that the lack of faith is actually just a different kind of faith. Not true. It is not 'faith" to say that, because I've never ever seen a speck of evidence to support the existence of a god, I believe no such god exists. That's what is called common sense. To the extent people claim their god caused an immaculate conception, raised people from the dead, or turned water into wine, it is even easier. Since these things are not possible, I feel comfortable saying that there is, indeed, plenty of evidence that such a god does not exist. That is not faith. it is scientific method. On the other hand, it is "faith" to say that I believe in God even though there is no evidence to support his existence.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Demonology 501

      Christians aren't the only ones who believe in Heaven and Hell ~ though there are some minor differences. Muslims, too, believe. And though a bit different, Buddhists also have a concept of Heaven and Hell. Many mainstream religions also incorporate a all encompassing Adversary (such as the Christian 'Satan'), as well as lesser demons.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • pete

      Religious folk can not disprove:

      Unicorns, leprechauns, Dragons, Fairies, Banshees, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Santa Claus, Werewolf or Vampires. So I guess by your logic that they exist?

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

      "I have lost nothing, because according to the athiest, nothing exists after death. If the athiest is wrong, he has lost eternity, but has won hell."

      So you only believe because you dont want to be wrong? You would think god would see through your false belief. Besides if I live a good life and my only flaw was that I was a non-believer and sent to hell because of it then I would gladly accept it because God isnt worthly of my soul. I would relish spending eternity in hell with someone who loved me despite my flaws, then serve in heaven to some vain loser on an ego trip.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  19. Cookie44

    This is just too sad. God bless you all & I pray that He opens all your eyes before it is too late.

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

      Right back at ya Cooky.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      prove he exists first

      June 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Arjun

      How do we prove the existence of the sun to a person who does not open his eyes...

      June 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • pete

      @Arjun,

      "How do we prove the existence of the sun to a person who does not open his eyes..."

      Ok, I will play along. You do so by telling them that the Sun is the source of the warmth they feel during the day. You can tell them that the sun can burn their skin when exposed long enough.

      The problem is that some are looking, but god is not found. There is no proof of his existence. There is no physical evidence of a god. Just because I have faith in a Unicorns, leprechauns, Dragons, Fairies, Banshees, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Santa Claus, Werewolf or Vampires, does not make them real. Without evidence god is just another mad made mythical creature.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • pete

      @Arjun,

      Better yet, do you believe in the existence of Unicorns & Fairies? If not, why?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  20. Adam

    Some people think Obama was born in Kenya. Some people think Hawaii.

    But no one points out those differences in opinions and concludes Obama doesn't exist.

    We see the evidence of his existence, are not 100% sure where he was born, but still of course believe he exists.

    Same goes for a belief in God's existence. We see the evidence of Him: Morality's existence, scientific evidence of a first cause for the universe, and even simply our self-awareness of Him as a human race. We see those things and conclude He exists.

    Just because we have disagreements on who God really is (where Obama was born) is no reason at all to conclude he doesn't exist.

    That's just simply a baseless argument.

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

      "We see the evidence of Him: Morality's existence, scientific evidence of a first cause for the universe, and even simply our self-awareness of Him as a human race. We see those things and conclude He exists."

      Fail, on the simple premise that you assume too much, that "we" see anything of the sort.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Adam

      OK, QS.

      You don't believe morality exists. I will note that and be sure to stay away from you.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • QS

      Ok Adam, you believe morality can ONLY exist if one believes in your version of god....I have noted that and will be sure to stay away from you.

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

      QS, pay attention. I said nothing of my version of God. I said morality can't logically and reasonably exist if God (any God) doesn't exist.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • imori

      Adam,

      You're an idiot. Morality exists but your premise was that it has a personified originator. That's what QC was disputing. It's existence in no way implies a "Creator" of any kind. Morality, instead, emerges as a property in the socialization of a species and, incidently, humans are the only ones that have it. Logic: fail.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • imori

      oops, that should read "humans are *not* the only species that have it"

      June 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Battsman

      Adam – On the contrary – morality is easily demonstrated as a necessity for a functioning society – including societies that function without belief in a high power. e.g.: Confucianism. The problem you have is that you are so entrenched in a Judeo-Christian belief structure (apparently without exposure to other belief structures that exist) as to make poorly thought out (illogical) leaps.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:28 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.