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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. birch please

    Gotta love the "christians" who wont talk to him after even though they were supposed to be his friends.... that pretty much sums it all up. It would be very hard to find an atheist who would judge someone so harshly (except for in a blog).

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

      Plenty of atheists lost friends when they had and wouldn't denounce real death experiences and the like. People are fanatics about this stuff, even (or especially) atheists.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      I lost plenty of "friends" when I denounced my faith. Apparently, they couldn't look past the fact that I had a difference of opinion on religion. Oh well, that is their loss.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Ecclesiastes 7:17

      Or their gain...after all, it's for them to decide if what was "lost" was worth anything to them.

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

      "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God" is there anything really left to say about this weak minded halfwit what a embarrassment to his family.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Ron

      Hey wolf in sheep closthing...."The fool hath said in his heart there is no God" is there anything really left to say about this weak minded halfwit what a embarrassment to his family.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  2. Clint

    God is merely a manifestation of mankind to answer questions that cannot be easily answered. If Christians would actually look at the information that is available critically, they would understand that the belief in God really makes no sense. The church uses hell and heaven as a tool to get them to live the lifestyles that they want, and continually give money to fund the church. Religion does not pass the "does is make sense" test, and I am always challenging individuals to have independent thoughts to make sure they have really thought about their convictions with a clear head.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  3. Elijah's 3rd time around

    REPENT!!! GOD IS REAL AND JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD JEHOVAH! Jesus Chrsit is real and He is coming soon. Repent of your transgressions...... hold fast your teachings and REPENT!!!

    June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Hoopla12

      ohh boy you forgot to take your pills today..

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

      He must be real because you used ALL CAPS!

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

      God from fear as usual. Go google Pascal's Wager, stupid.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  4. Demonology 501

    The lake of fire is reserved for Satan and his minions, according to the Bible.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Hoopla12

      Bilbo Bagging has hairy feet according to LOTR...

      June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Ron

      and you

      June 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  5. Ralphe

    No big deal. Even God doesn't believe in Him/Herself these days!

    June 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  6. Marcus MDG4EVA

    Patience is a very important virtue. I believe the guy in this article may have never had faith to begin with. Also, it appears to be some type of pity party being displayed here too. If we were to love him like Jesus loves us, then we would have to be upfront, not nice per se , but good with the choice of words and truthful. The truth hurts most of the time and understandably so, yet it's the only mirror that truly shows you your true you. Being a christian doesn't mean we have to be passive and hide cowardly behind humility, in order for one to encourage non-believers to come to Christ , one must show that he is not afraid of confrontation or enduring trials. If one gives up on Christ or his beliefs , what else will he give up on??

    June 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Tom

      Marcus just get over your wacky delusion already and stop shoving it at us.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  7. To believe or not to believe

    Whether this guy is a believer or not, and what he now says, doesn't change God's laws. God loves us enough that He gave us all "free will" if we wish not to have Him in our life. He will simply just honor our wish when we die.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Hoopla12

      Yeah whatever you say.. Zeus and Athena love all of us their laws are everlasting...

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

      Or he won't.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  8. Stentor

    Reverend Timothy Lovejoy would definitely be a member of this group. The Simpsons should do an episode about it.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • birch please

      The should end the series on that note lol.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  9. roccop777

    When someone tells me that they are atheist, because they can't believe I challenge them to seriously evaluate that nonsense. An atheist's conviction rests on a whole lot of faith:
    >>faith that everything - matter, energy, natural laws which comprise our universe - can arise from nothing.
    >> faith in "almighty chance"– that random, undirected forces can create order out of chaos
    >> faith that life can arise spontaneously out of lifeless chemicals. although there is not one shred of empirical evidence which supports this.
    >> faith, that life is the result of a cosmic accident - therefore there is no actual meaning or purpose in existing. There is no right or wrong, good or evil - it doesn't really matter if you are J. Stalin or Mother Teresa - in fact life forms such as Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and their cohorts are actually the most virulent and worthy of survival, because they survive and in the process eliminate the weak life forms not worthy of surviving. (the above reality was laid out very well by the atheist and Nobel laureate Jaque Monod in his essay "Chance and necessity")
    >> Atheists firmly believe there is no such thing as final justice - atheists like Stalin and Hitler were convinced of this and took comfort that when they die, their existence is finished - they will not have to give account for their deeds.
    >>Atheists believe that the longing in human's hearts for purpose, meaning in life, love, justice - are just illusions made by chemicals in our brains. If we are but the result of a cosmic accident and live only short life and then its all over - then every moment we put other's needs above our own, sacrifice ourselves for the weak and needy, to remain faithful to another person "for better or for worse" is a foolish waste of precious time.

    I've taken a lot of time to think it through and I find the basis of faith underlying atheism to be very shoddy and insufficient. I also am convinced that the evidence that the order in our universe, the existence of life, the longing for love, justice and purpose in our existence, are not the product of mindless chance, but a good Creator. I have found this to be a much more satisfying conclusion.

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

      You are a god-of-the-gaps person. An atheist says "I don't knw the answer", and is modest about it. You say, "I don't know the answere, therefore the answer must be god" and are therefore arrogant.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      I don't need faith in anything or belief in anything to be an atheist, all I need to do is doubt the ridiculous, unprovable, contradictory, false claims made by religion.

      I could know nothing at all of science and still be an atheist, simply because I thought you were full of crap – which you are.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • SLArbiter

      More like "Here's a list that references concepts that I can't wrap my mind around so I'll re-word them, abandon any semblance of logic, and say that this is what atheists believe".

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

      I can't take anyone seriously who claims that Hitler was an atheist.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Stentor

      The fact that you say that using a specific set of words that tell me you're not really a scientist, but a layman, tells me all I need to know about your mindset. Because if you understood more about the processes that created this universe, you would realize that it's not optimized towards life, but towards making black holes. Life is the dust in the corner of the room, an unintended byproduct of the creation of this place, which is most likely due to natural processes of the multi-verse, or a multi-dimensional universe that has secrets you can't decipher, or don't care to discover. No accounting, yes. No afterlife, yes. No Heaven or Hell, yes. But yes, life can arise from nothing, & there is empirical proof for it. Take viruses, do viruses have a soul? They replicate through biological processes, they have DNA. What differentiates us from animals, animals from insects, insects from bacteria, bacteria from viruses? They're all steps down the chain of intelligent life to instinctual life, life that is programmed along a set of instructions of genetic code. Code that arose spontaneously & followed the path of least environmental resistance to maximize metabolic efficiency & production of descendants. There's more proof out there that there is no sentient god, but an unsentient creator that produced this universe because of reactions elsewhere in the hyper-dimensional reality of the multi-verse.

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

      I am an athiest, and I can back my position up much easier than creating a God creature like you have. You honestly think that there is more evidence in the universe for some creator flying around in space, than events happening over millions of years that could have derived life. The major books of the bible like mathew, mark, luke, and john were written 60 years after jesus death, and these apostles never actually knew Jesus. Therefore the Bible was written by humans, to control humans. You have been duped my friend, by mankind taking advantage of people like you who are gullible and not able to think independently.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Mark

      Congratulations.

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

      Hitler was not an atheist. That is propaganda. Read "Mein Kampf".
      Stalin was an atheist.
      So was Sister Teresa near the end.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Skykarro

      First intelligent comment on here that made sense. Good job:)

      June 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Chris

      >>faith that everything – matter, energy, natural laws which comprise our universe – can arise from nothing.
      – it isn't faith. this is an observable part of quantum physics. with specialized equipment, you can actually observe particles flashing in and out of existence. look up Electron anti-neutrinos

      >> faith in "almighty chance"– that random, undirected forces can create order out of chaos
      -random forces create order out of chaos all the time. easy example: if you go into space, and squeeze a drop of water out of a straw, it immediately forms into a sphere. it doesn't immediately break apart into its individual atoms, the stays together.

      >> faith that life can arise spontaneously out of lifeless chemicals. although there is not one shred of empirical evidence which supports this.
      – this is not true. look up how common diseases form. or if you looking for something a little more concrete, they recently discovered single cell organisms living in highly acidic water in on of the national parks (yellow stone if i recall) they were not their before, which mean life had to arise on its own.

      >> faith, that life is the result of a cosmic accident – therefore there is no actual meaning or purpose in existing. There is no right or wrong, good or evil – it doesn't really matter if you are J. Stalin or Mother Teresa – in fact life forms such as Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and their cohorts are actually the most virulent and worthy of survival, because they survive and in the process eliminate the weak life forms not worthy of surviving. (the above reality was laid out very well by the atheist and Nobel laureate Jaque Monod in his essay "Chance and necessity")
      -morality is relative to the individual. for instance, i would be more than will to throw a diseased child off a cliff if i knew for a fact that not doing so would expose the rest of my group and cause more deaths. some people would look at that as abhorrent, and that is because they were raised to believe a child is precious no matter what. by this law, atheists for there moral compass. we don't need a god to tell us what is right and wrong, we are able to form these judgments on our own.

      >> Atheists firmly believe there is no such thing as final justice – atheists like Stalin and Hitler were convinced of this and took comfort that when they die, their existence is finished – they will not have to give account for their deeds.
      -yet Hitler did account for his deeds, and he was definitely NOT an atheist. the was a firm christian, and actively searched for many christian relics and occult artifacts for power. atheists don't believe there is a almighty god to decide our fate when we die, this much is true. what we do believe in is history, and how it will look upon us. humanity has decided these people were evil, not a god. there family names are shunned, as are many of their living relatives. hell Hitler even managed to ruin a mustache.

      >>Atheists believe that the longing in human's hearts for purpose, meaning in life, love, justice – are just illusions made by chemicals in our brains. If we are but the result of a cosmic accident and live only short life and then its all over – then every moment we put other's needs above our own, sacrifice ourselves for the weak and needy, to remain faithful to another person "for better or for worse" is a foolish waste of precious time.
      – this is a generalization of the worst kind. it like me saying that because the KKK is protestant, and hates blacks, Hispanics, and anyway other non-white protestant, then all protestants are racist intolerant people. is that true? do you all hate everyone else? i hope not. in the same way, while atheists may acknowledge that everything, from the how we act, to the love we feel are chemical reactions, the vast majority would also say that these are part of being human, that the need to help others in trouble has raised us from the other animals of the planet. i don't need a god to tell me that pulling a kid out of a fire is the right thing to do.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  10. Hunter

    Knowing what you know in your heart is all that matters. I know who I am and why I'm here, which is spirituality. I don't need a deity or a book to tell me those things.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  11. deidramt

    The interesting thing about all of this:

    Person of faith: I have faith. I just know. He (whichever you subscribe to) exists, and that's enough for me. I pity you because you don't know him.

    Let's just say for the sake of arguement, that I was an abused child or an unemployed single mother of 3, and I prayed umpteen billion times for some magical savior to help me, or give me strength and nothing happened. Would I not be deserving of help? However, a generally good, moral, and ethical person (regardless of their faith or lack thereof) helped me out. Would not that person be deserving of my praise? They were my savior.

    Logic has never chastised anybody for not believing. Science has never chastised for not believing. Religion does nothing but chastise.

    Believe what you will, I don't care. But, get your opinions and beliefs out of my political system, they don't belong there. We are all human, we all bleed red. I am not a lesser person because I choose to not believe in your "God" nor are you a lesser person for choosing to believe. You are not right. Your ways are not right. Being a good, moral, ethical person is the right thing, regardless of why you choose to do it. If your "God" chooses to punish me for living my life morally and ethically, then I submit to you that he is not a god to be worshipped.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Marcus MDG4EVA

      Why are you so defensive? Only God can judge you. If you live your life thinking about what others opinions are about you, then you will never live your own life.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • deidramt

      You assume that I am defensive. I do not need to justify my actions to anybody.

      I do the right thing because it's the right thing, not because I somehow think I have pleased somebody else, or because I might feel a sense of pride in my actions. It is the right thing to do.

      If your god judges me unfit because I did not have faith, but still lived a decent, moral life, then I am glad I didn't waste my life praising and following him. He has been found unfit for my time.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Marcus MDG4EVA

      Reading between the lines , it appears that you may be upset, disappointed , i don't know but, I tell you this, it's a beautiful thing , when one realizes one day that God is all you need , when he's all you have left. I don't know about others on this blog , but I'm living proof. I can't speak for all who believe , but I believe everyone who says they believe don't truly believe. On a further note , one who says they don't believe usually are looking for something to follow. I wish I could share my story with everyone , it may not be my time yet, but , God is going to use me to help change some people's minds. Maybe not yours , I don't know , but , I can honestly say , I'm LIVING Proof of a true believer. There was a time when I had stop believing, and those were some of the darkest days of my life, although I was living , I was heartless. It took a humbling experience in my life to bring me back, yet I'm not perfect, although some have this cynical idea , that you have to be perfect to "do this". It's not the case, my experience through faith has been phenomenal. I know some may take jabs at me for writing this , so what. This lifestyle isn't hard at all. Just be you and if you haven't accepted Christ or God , I can't make you nor anyone else, @ least you are keeping it real and that's the first step. PeacenLove

      June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  12. Hoopla12

    I'm glad people are throwing away the mythology... It's great to see that some people in America are able to see through the religious mumbo jumbo.. Good job!

    June 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  13. Brian

    "BURN IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "...................................

    Where is hell? It must be a nice place when you look at the people who are going to heaven. I quit going to church long ago because it was dominated by nasty people who only wanted to argue about money.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Ron

      Have you told God yet? I have never read about such fool as you.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Tracy Lee

      sounds like your church sucked....sorry to be you ......try harvest.org....

      June 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • wow

      thats a lame excuse

      June 14, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  14. Joseph

    I am proud that they have broken the shackles of religion too see life the way it should be seen. if humans should ever live long enough people will look back as us who quote scriptures likes were nuts lol. Look here's how I see it r religions will always be around because their will always be people who will look for someone else to fix their problems, fight their battles and so on.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  15. Cindy

    I believe some of these guys hide in the church to get "tax exempt" status. They live off the tax exemptions of the church. I believe there are whole congregations doing this.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  16. George

    Folks, we need to work hard and press for the passage of the Christian Amendment to the Const.itution. You see the hatred against Christians on display here. Let us ensure that our country remains free as one nation under God.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • birch please

      Free to worship a single religion..... OxyMORON

      June 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Petra

      AMEN!!

      June 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Penelope

      There can be no freedom under the yoke of religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Placate

      Please copy the text of it here for all of us to read.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Hoopla12

      Go move to Vatican if you want to live in a theocratic country, leave everyone alone...

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

      George, feel free to move to Iran. They have an appropriate theocracy for you there.

      You traitor to freedom. You should be thrown out of the USA, except that we allow free speech (that your religion wants to shut down.)

      June 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • jnail7

      I call Poe on this.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  17. The Truth

    This is my first comment on any website EVER but I had to do it... God loves you. He loves you whether you believe in him or you don't, you're straight or you're gay, you're poor or you're rich, you're moral or amoral. Period. It makes no difference to Him as the Creator.

    I just recently began on my (conscious) walk with God and what I've learned is that established religion has always kept people at arm's length from the truth to ensure its survival and control. Here is the truth:

    The Bible is not God's word. It is a collection of writings derived from people who had personal encounters with God and spent their lives sharing those experiences. So although God did INSPIRE the text, humans wrote it down after generations of oral tradition (a long game of telephone). Read accordingly.

    Jesus is not God. Jesus was a man who embodied the one-on-one relationship with God that established religion has never wanted us to achieve. He didn't set out to start a new religion, his mission was to empower the individual to believe in his/her personal communion with God. We are all God's children created exactly how we were meant to be and once we accept ourselves, we can accept each other and live out our true purpose. Jesus "officially" became God following Constantine's rule as the emperor tried to have Christianity strictly defined for the sake of unifying the Roman empire (maintaining control).

    And there is no heaven or hell (after life, that is). The Kingdom of God is within you, right here, right now. Your level of dedication to nourishing your soul determines whether your life will be a loving "heaven" or a hateful "hell." Whether or not you believe in God or that He created you doesn't change the fact that you are responsible for the quality of your existence.

    If the evangelical community could remove the stigma from questioning its dogma, Pastors like this wouldn't have to renounce God altogether because of certain aspects that don't work for them (they don't work for most people today). I really hope the Clergy Project is actively promoting these kinds of conversations because they are the ones that matter. God hasn't failed us, religion has. And if we can recalibrate our understanding of our relationship to Him directly, we can ACTUALLY change the world (like Jesus did).

    June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Penelope

      Proof or piss off please.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Hoopla12

      I'm not sure if even a lobotomy would even help this crazy religious person...

      June 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • The Truth

      @Penelope He loves you too.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • The Truth

      @Hoopla I love you.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Ron

      "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God"... Do us a favour and change your name too....... Judas.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  18. John

    Atheists today are like the Christians of Jesus' era - they are persecuted by that powers-that-be for their beliefs. Christians today are like the Romans of old and atheists are the courageous dissenters. Amazing, this circle of hate.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Ron

      atheist=fool

      June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  19. Adam

    If we're all animals, where do humans get off elevating themselves above other animals. Where did the atrocity of Humanism come from? How can we even look at ourselves?

    June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • birch please

      We are the only animals that have established a residence outside of this planet (space station). We owe it to the rest earth life to spread it and ensure its success to other planets/moons.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  20. polycarp pio

    In the end there will only be a remnant of true christians worldwide, the seperation is starting as we speak, first the division of the church from the church, then the remnant from the rest. PP

    June 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post is an instance of the No True Scotsmen fallacy.

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

      June 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • George

      Sounds like a commie plot to me.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • fekt

      a true christian would be one poor schizophrenic soul. if you read the bible and understand what it says you can't possibly follow it without multiple personality disorder given the huge number of contradictions it has in it.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:57 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.