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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. David Hernandez

    I will hope the best, for times to come for the former preacher. I believe this is a test for him, he is going through some though times with his frustrations. I hope through his frustration God will make himself present in his life for his repentance. But if he continues through the path of apostasy, he will be another of the ones that are mentions in Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt , afterward destroyed them that believed not. 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day. WE WILL STILL PRAY THAT THE FORMER MINISTER BE SAVED!

    June 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • QS

      Seriously, is it like a prerequisite to join a cult that you must set aside your humility and common sense?

      How do religious people justify their sheer self-righteousness when it's THIS evident?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Farrell

      "having saved the people out of the land of Egypt "

      According to census figures in the book of Numbers, the Israelite population would have been between 2.5 to 3 million people, all of whom died in the wilderness for their disobedience, yet extensive archaeological work by Israeli archaeologist Eliezer Oren over a period of 10 years "failed to provide a single shred of evidence that the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt ever happened" (Barry Brown, "Israeli Archaeologist Reports No Evidence to Back Exodus Story," News Toronto Bureau, Feb. 27, 1988). Oren reported that although he found papyrus notes that reported the sighting of two runaway slaves, no records were found that mentioned a horde of millions: "They were spotted and the biblical account of 2.5 million people with 600,000 of military age weren't?" Oren asked in a speech at the Royal Ontario Museum. That is certainly a legitimate question. Up to 3 million Israelites camped in a wilderness for 40 years, but no traces of their camps, burials, and millions of animal sacrifices could be found in ten years of excavations. This may be an argument from silence, but it is a silence that screams.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  2. montyross

    even Jesus (God in the flesh) doubted for a brief time...

    June 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "even Jesus (God in the flesh) doubted for a brief time"

      One of the best examples of all time is Mother Theresa she doubted god existed and wrote about it her diary.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • KJ

      You are correct Monty, on the cross before his last breath, he asked why God had forsaken him... Theres some ammo for you athiest..

      June 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  3. kaz

    Looking at the last words:
    " he said. “And now at 42, I am still the same guy preaching what I see is best for people"

    He Was Preaching HIS OWN GOSPEL, not what the Bible says. That's why. And the Bible says in the last days many depart from the faith and listen to doctrines of demons....watch out.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • ?

      eh, so the fable goes.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • fail

      the bible also says that donkeys talk.
      you figure out the connection.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  4. The Holy Water is Infant Plasma!!!

    the holy water......it's made of tiny people!!
    It's............tiny PEOPLE!!!!! AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!

    June 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  5. KJ

    I feel bad for him that he completely went to the other extreme of belief....I have been saved as a christian since 13 and my faith has only grown stronger in God with each passing day. However my faith in organized religion has slowly deteriorated. Its not that there aren't any good churchs, its just that so many of them are preaching things like his that "if you don't do this or do this....., then you will go to hell....etc.." It is not our place to judge or to say who goes to hell or not. If a specific religion is teaching you that, then it is not in line with God's will. Best example is the wedge driven between religions such as Christians, Jews, and Muslims.. All three originated from Judaism and basically have the same values, but people don't educate themselves enough and just believe hearsay and news media and think their religion is the true one. When he talks about prayers not being answered, this tells me his faith was already damaged and weak and he let doubt seed his mind. This life is short and not guaranteed, and its purpose is not for us to understand. Just to be good to each other and it will be revealed to us when we pass on to the next life. Don't pick a religion, just believe that God exists and his/her plan has meaning for all of us.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • fail

      you do it

      June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • KJ

      You do it? thats the only response you can give? lol.... alrighty then.... I"m not trying to convince anyone, its your choice and your path.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Madtown

      I'm with you on some of that, I believe in God, do not believe in human-created organized religion. But, I do not believe "hell" exists at all.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • darius castaneda

      This sounds weak. Religion is a set belief in a cause. What people have been seeing in church is people. We as people are flawed and judgmental. This doesn't mean that Christ isn't our Savior. He is.

      I don't know. To me your argument just seemed on the safe side, and as if you didn't know which direction to head yourself.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Stewart

      "All three originated from Judaism and basically have the same values, but people don't educate themselves enough and just believe hearsay and news media and think their religion is the true one."

      Ummmm... your religion was stolen from other pagan religions so all hail Mithra!

      June 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • KJ

      Nice try Darius, but I'm an firm in my faith and noone can rock it. But we must test it. I know exactly what direction i'm going in.. Do you?? For you to question another person's faith is again......being judgemental....

      And Stewart, thanks for showing that you're not educated on the topic....

      June 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • KJ

      Nice try Darius, but I'm an firm in my faith and no one can rock it. But we must test it. I know exactly what direction i'm going in.. Do you?? For you to question another person's faith is again......being judgmental....

      And Stewart, thanks for showing that you're not educated on the topic....

      June 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Cesar Castillo

      Dude, or female, that last paragraph may sound unrealistic to the blank slated mind but u are not a blank slated mind, your a challenger to authority thats what I see...In a way I wouldnt blame those who werent brought up since young by their parents about faith...all your doubts can be explained by quotes from that book...we are TEMPORARILY in a state of free will its not that we are hated....and yes it is kind of like blind faith but thats what faith is...believing means you interpret as true because it makes sense...you shouldnt demand proof on this topic because maybe you have proof all around you...in the beauty..in the evil....in the direct contrary......look at your feet and tell me you are not a perfect mammal....there are simply laws you cannot understand...the bible just happens to be inspired word..how? idk either it sounds impossible but this earth seems impossible and its here with an atmosphere...we could be raided by an gigantic alien race in a jiffy but what...the planets been safe from threats for the past 2500 years since we appeared...there is different variations in time in space but from the earths timeline we're like a last minute thing

      June 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  6. Krep1

    To all atheist. I PROMISE, one day you WILL believe....correction....you will KNOW that Jesus is the Son of God, and that salvation comes through Him alone!!

    Cut & Paste this on the fridge.......He's coming!!

    June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • QS

      To all psychotic religious people who yearn for the "end times": your beliefs do not mesh with reality.

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

      I already came. Was it good for you?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • ?

      To all christians....we did believe. That's why we don't now. Get over your story book. Humpty Dumpty and Green Eggs and Ham are good one to.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • sam

      QUICK LOOK BUSY

      June 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Patti

      Yes, you PROMISE, just like Islam promises they'll be a hundred virgins waiting for you and Hinduism promises you're coming back. The ONE thing religions do have in common is that their version is the one true way.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Carl

      Exactly WHEN is "he" coming? People like you have been claiming that for 2000 years.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • David

      You're promise won't be kept. Why again did your god pick Europe and the Holy Roman Empire to spread your religion at the end of a sword? Why did he pick which people to go to heaven / hell based on where they're born? (Children, in most cases, inherit their parents religion) Why do animals suffer for man's sin? Why is eating lobster an abomination? why is human anatomy so imperfect? In other places, Muslims say the same thing as you. What if THEY are right and you're sent to hell. I'll guess you'll be a Muslim then...oops too late. Not your fault though, you were just born in the wrong place.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      Krep1: Why should people believe your promise?

      June 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      Get on your knees and open your mouth, he's coming!

      June 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  7. George

    A nation built on laws informed by Christian principles is NOT a theocracy. Nobody is suggesting putting priests or ministers in charge. Educate yourself on what a theocracy truly is.

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

      Can you spell out what current laws you object to?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • QS

      "Nobody is suggesting putting priests or ministers in charge."

      This proves you don't pay attention nearly as well as you like to think.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Our laws are not informed by "Christian principles" but by ethical ideals that predate Christianity by thousands of years, George.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • George

      The moral majority in the country simply want laws that reflect our Christian heritage.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @George

      The term "moral majority" is merely an attempt to take some kind of high ground, imply that you have a right to impose your personal morality, and an implication that those who disagree are therefore intrinsically immoral. That term is fully loaded, and your willingness to use it shows a lot about what you really want in terms of laws.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • QS

      "Moral majority"....LMAO! Why is it that religious people either choose not to see or honestly DON'T see the inherent self-righteousness that their beliefs create?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • sam

      No George.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Our "heritage" is not what laws reflect, George. Laws don't have anything to do with Christianity. Now when are you going to quit stalling and tell us all what laws you wish to see enacted and which you'd like to see overturned?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • sam stone

      You are suggesting determining the nation's laws based on your religious principles. How is that not a theocracy?

      June 13, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  8. Clinton

    Wow, The more i read on this blog the more ridiculous the comments are from Atheists. You are the biggest bunch of biggots i have ever seen. You guys make the KKK look like a book club. Your insults and attacks on other peoples beliefs is abhorrent. That's just flat out indecency, you guys seriously are a bunch of narrow minded idiots. Why don't you all start holding rallies where you can Hate more people for their beliefs and talk about how much more "evolved" your ideology is even though you spend your time attacking others. bunch of biggots man... seriously.

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

      Did we touch a nerve? Are you afraid that your whole belief system may be a house of cards?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Clinton

      and another thing, HOW DARE YOU atheists attack religion saying that they descriminate people that don't believe or people of other faiths... LOOK AT THIS BLOG... You're the least accepting people i've ever heard of. Bunch of worthless biggots, and hypocrites to boot.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • ,

      pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      The only problem here is that you've given the concept of religion respect it does not deserve and has not earned. Religion has gotten a free pass on ridicule for far too long.

      Religious beliefs should be treated like political ideologies or any other idea, and subjected to ridicule and debate freely.

      It really boils down to this: People who don't like having their beliefs mocked and laughed at shouldn't have such silly beliefs.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Clinton

      OOO – My belief system doesn't require me to attack anybody elses belief. My beliefs are secure, i don't seek to insult those who don't believe what i do though. That's wrong. that's what you and your buddies are doing here. Does a black Person think it's wrong to be Black because a bunch of KKK members burn a cross in his yard? Nope, and i don't think my beliefs are in danger because a bunch of biggots are attacking them. You're a bunch of hateful people you know that? What for? Honestly? what do you get out of being a hate filled idiot?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • QS

      Aww...I'm touched! 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Clinton

      LOL RELIGION – How do I, Me personally or anybody on this blog that believes in Religion deserve to be attacked because of anything from History? Was I alive in 1600's when non-believers were persecuted? heck i'm not even a Catholic. Should i hold the 20 Million people that Atheist Joseph Stalin murdered over your head? No, so why would you attack me for what you consider my religion to have done wrong in the past..... honestly you realize how much of a biggot you're being right?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • YeahRight

      " My beliefs are secure, i don't seek to insult those who don't believe what i do though. That's wrong. that's what you and your buddies are doing here"

      "You are the biggest bunch of biggots i have ever seen. "

      "You guys make the KKK look like a book club."

      " you guys seriously are a bunch of narrow minded idiots. "

      "bunch of biggots man... seriously."

      Lying is a sin and your a hypocrite too.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • OOO

      Relax a little Clinton. Your going off the deep end on us.
      We are having a discussion about rationality and beliefs, and peoples justifications for those beliefs.
      Remember, a belief, like a person, earns respect. We are attacking the belief, not the person. If you have good reasons for your beliefs, they will earn respect. If the reasons are rediculous, the belief will be rediculed.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Brian

      Clinton, Did you read the article?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Lokari

      Bear in mind in your condemnation of atheists, that what you're actually talking about is CNN commenters. As a rule, they tend to be extremists, trolls, and m0r0ns. They are not generally representative of who they pretend to be.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Madtown

      Clinton
      You are the biggest bunch of biggots i have ever seen.
      -----–
      Says the fundamentalist who probably judges and hates the "h0m0's", as he'd refer to them.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • sam

      What a bitchy post.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Carl

      The KKK being a Christian organization, by the way.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  9. cichlid

    Very sad... Very Confused as another one who has lost his faith and now preaching to others to do the same.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Stewart

      Your religion is a cult, nothing more.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      The saddest part is that his "reasons" are absolute childish. Your buddy didn't get a job he prayed for, therefore God doesn't exist? Really? Wow....

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

      Sad is right....that it took him so long.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      it certainly shouldn't have taken him that long if his conclusion was based on such silly premises.

      "I prayed for Bubba to win the lotto and he didn't! God don't exist!!!"

      June 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  10. George

    Folks, the only way Christians can help ensure our values and traditions continue is to vote Republican. I, for one, don't want to live in an atheistic communist state.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • OOO

      You don't have to be communist to be atheist, my friend.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      George, you're such a dope.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      I for one dont want to live in a Mormon nation either. If you want to live in a theocracy, there are plenty to choose from- Iran, Saudi Arabia... why dont you move there instead? Take your Republicants with you.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • George

      And you're an idiot, Tom.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      FYI, Republican does not equal Christian (or good, or honorable).

      The Republicans are just using you, consider this.
      When the Repubs had all the power (White House, Both Houses, and Supreme Court), what did they do?

      If you don't know I'll tell you, Made Trillions on War, Gas Prices, Pharmaceuticals.

      What did they do about Abortion, Schools, Gay Rights, or anything else you Christians are suppose to care about?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I know the difference between communism and atheism, sh!twit. You are delusional. Get help.

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

      Yea, ol' Newt was a shining example of values....how many times was he married. And wasn't he voted out, for some fraud thingy. You can always move to another country pal

      June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • sam

      Dizzy troll with silly hyperbole...go away, attention whore.

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

    So does he pass the collection plate now? If so, he's no better than he was when he was a preaching but not believing.

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

    Hurry up everybody!!!!!! Don't believe in God before it's too late!!!!!

    June 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jack Sommersby

      Please. The only reason people like you "believe" is because you believe you'll get an afterlife - a bonus round. Apparently, this life isn't worth anything if you don't get one, which is pathetic.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • QS

      Well said Jack – Pascal's Wager applies to a majority of religious people I think.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  13. duffey

    I can understand why people are rejecting the premise of God and/or religion. Could it be that the entire message has been screwed up by people like DeWitt and McBains radical religious beliefs? They start out with unrealistic views of what they think their God may be, cram these uncompromising views down everyones throats(in other words shame those into beliving) and when things don't work out join the dark side and still try to cram their personal delusioned opinions down everyones throats. I have beliefs, but it is no ones business as to what I belive or who I belive in. I like this way.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      He left the dark side. He's now an atheist. Didn't you read the article?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • QS

      Do you rely on your beliefs to determine how you vote? Then it is my business.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      Pentecostals carry aridiculous burden of biblical innerancy so that when any question of the human error enters the equation, often times their faith is shattered.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Carl

      Religious people are always claiming that other religions have messed up the message, and yet none of them is able to offer a religious view that isn't moronic or evil.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  14. Reality

    The Atheists' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    June 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • References.

      I would like references. Do you mind sending them to rjpiers1@gmail.com? Thank you kindly! 🙂

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

      I believe that the character named Jesus in the fictional story of the bible was simply an early, undiagnosed case of schizophrenia.

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

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      o The numbers, the calculation

      June 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  15. The Dog Delusion

    So.....since DeWitt doesn't like preaching about hell and his buddy didn't get a job he prayed for, then it's impossible for a transcendent being to exist?

    **facepalm**

    June 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      Hilarious that DeWitt is holding "reason" pamplet when his "reasons" for believing atheism is true are on the same reasoning level of a toddler. Oh...the irony.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Carl

      It was the claim of religion that prayer works. You make it sound as though he threw a fit for no reason.

      Matthew 21:22 "If you believe, you will receive what you pray for."

      That has been found to be false by so many people that even religious apologists will mock people for noting that it doesn't work, as if believing that bible passage even MIGHT be true is ridiculous. As you two just did. Instead of making BS excuses for biblical nonsense, he finally dropped the whole pile.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  16. Saby

    When a pastor turns athiest it's news. That says something by itself. For those who are happy for this I would remind you that there are far more that are fulfilled and happy to be a servant of God. I see atheists as bottom feeders for those who get caught up with the world and lose their faith. You have the atheists there to fill your longing for purpose. Yet, without Christians the athiest would have no purpose and would die just as parasites when their host is gone. In the meantime, keep feasting on your little morsels like this deceived little man.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • SusieKJ

      Wow, you call yourself a christian with that mouth?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • QS

      LMFAO! That was classic! Thanks for the laugh!

      June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Saby

      Wow. Keep in mind that parasite is not a curse word.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Duh. It's also absurd and inaccurate.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • John K

      We are happy that this man has finally accepted reality. It is people like you who are actaully the bottom feeders. Personally I am saddened that there are still people around who want so desperately to believe in magic. Their lives mean nothing without magical beings in it. How truely sad that is.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Saby

      John K, If the fact that people exercise their right to practice their faith saddens you, you are better of in a communist country.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  17. Hoopla12

    Oh you religious people are so blind...

    June 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • "Wake up"

      But atheist are constantly told by religious people they are "blind." Who am I to believe?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  18. Tom Paine

    Slowly, one by one, the human race wakes up.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • "Wake up"

      So I simply "wake up" by not believing in god? I feel like that is the exact, closed minded belief that has been preached to me all my life by religious folk...except the other way around.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Saby

      Could it be that you live in the land of Oz and get excited when someone agrees with your self-centered world view?

      June 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  19. IslandAtheist

    Does he have to give back his magic underwear? ... oh wait, that's the Mormons.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  20. Scott

    A traveling pentecostal preacher from Louisiana. That's just frightening on so many levels.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:14 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.