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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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. Petercha

    Why would an atheist want to become a pastor, anyway? Makes no sense.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Because he wasnt when he started. His eyes were openned and saw God for who he was.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • QS

      Simple answer – like so many others, the indoctrination was successful at a young age causing him to believe something against his own choosing, which led him as he grew older to reach the conclusion he did and finally be able to shrug off the indoctrination and replace it with real purpose and meaning.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Kathleen

      Obviously he was religious first.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Petercha

      "His eyes were openned and saw God for who he was." Sent, there are people whose eyes were opened in the other direction, too – people who were atheist and became Christian (or other religions).

      June 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Petercha

      QS – there are people who were indoctrinated by Atheist parents, too, who disowned their child when he or she chose to become a member of a religious group. I know such a person – her parents forced her to move out when she became a Christian.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Kathleen

      That is really sad. My son can believe whatever he wants. I encourage him to learn about religions so he can make an educated decision on what he chooses to believe.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Kathleen you are a foolish and bad mother to allow your child to dabble in the works fo Satan.

      Amen.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • this guy

      HeavenSent, people like you are why the masses are turning on religion... it's not God that people have the problem with, it's His condeming followers.. such as yourself.... if you REALLY cared about someones soul, you'd pray they find a way.. but instead you give them flak on a CNN message board... I hope you're not so evil in person.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  2. drinker75

    As an atheist this story kind of bothers me. I have no desire to change people's beliefs, preaching atheism makes one group the same as the other. People cried when some lady came out as an atheist, really???? Atheists don't need ministers, at least I hope not.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • QS

      Atheists do not need ministers....but humans in general, as a species, are a social creature. We need no guidance in our non-belief, but as humans we still need interaction with others...we just happen to typically be drawn to those who think similarly. 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • rdeleys

      No one is preaching atheism, but it's great that this organization exists to help those clergy members who have the intellectual integrity to throw their mythical religion overboard.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • drinker75

      I am, of course, drawn to people who think similarly as myself. I live in KS, ironically the county mentioned in this article. Not exactly a hotbed of atheism but we are here. Nothing makes me happier than when people think, I just want people to be smart enough to figure it out on their own.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Recovering From Religion

      We (including Jerry) don't seek to "convert" people to atheism, agnosticism, or even deism. You might be interested in our "Ask Me Anything" we did on Reddit about a month ago, as it better explains what we do and why. Also, the KC Atheist community is AWESOME...have you looked into it? There's a ton of groups and amazing people, it's one of our favorite cities for secular activism and community building. Check it out!

      June 14, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  3. Joe

    Great. Another "journalist" who doesn't know the difference between "disinterested" and "uninterested."
    Way to uphold the standards, you ignoramus.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Petercha

    An atheist pastor? That makes no sense at all to me. It's like saying an Islamic Jew or something.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • rdeleys

      He was a pastor when he believed. He threw his religion overboard when he realized the truth. There are more atheist pastors in this country than you think. They just haven't taken the step yet and come out publicly.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Petercha

      I would have a very hard time living with myself if I was preaching something I did not believe in. I don't see how anyone could do that. I'd be willing to bet that the number of atheist "pastors" is very small. If I was such a "pastor", I would quit and get another job.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  5. Blessed

    Deception, today, is global, in fact, the Bible says that Satan is misleading the entire inhabited earth, as shown at Revelation 12:9
    2 Corinthians 4:4, which I invite you to read.

    4 among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through

    Jesus stated that those who seek, and keep on seeking, will find at Matthew 7:7, 8.

    The whole world is lying in the power
    of the wicked one."
    (1John 5:19)

    "The one called Devil and Satan . . .
    is misleading the entire inhabited earth."
    – Revelation 12:

    June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • QS

      I need no shepherd for I think and reason...and I am not a sheep,
      I shall want only what serves humanity best;
      I lie down in green pastures because I choose to, not because anything makes me.
      I swim in still waters, I need not be led beside them;
      If a soul exists it is mine and is for me to restore how I see fit.
      Paths of righteousness will never fail to lead a person astray…
      especially for His name’s sake.

      I will walk through many valleys, it’s called life;
      the shadow of death follows one and all, no matter where we walk.
      I fear evil;
      evil is created by man, which is to be feared far more than any of the countless versions of god;
      your rod and your staff do not comfort me as they are herding tools...and I am not a sheep.
      I would be arrogant to think goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, for I am human and we make mistakes.
      I shall not dwell in any house that believes me to be nothing more than an animal which must be told where to go and when.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • midwestmatt

      What is it that you're getting at?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Blessed

      QS, I actually avoided reading another ignorant statement and if you do not know what I am getting at please google the scriptures or get an actually bible to search it out yourself. Satan is misleading the entire earth & causing them to turn away from God. You may not think so but he is & he's excited for this who do not believe because it's more people that he has to take home with him.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Which God??

      Hey blessed idiot, support search and rescue... get lost.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, please. How can anyone take such mumbo-jumbo seriously? Some evil spirit is out to "take more people home with him"? He's "excited" about it?

      Are you insane?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Blessed

      Interesting comments (lol) Tom & Which is God. Unfortunately, I am not going to argue with ignorance & try to force anybody to believe that God is real that's your personal decision & choice. I'm not going to stoop done to the level of calling names because your lack of understanding & being lost. The best option for you non-believer's is prayer & know that God still loves you guys & wants you to personally get to know him for yourself. So you can do so without being influenced by anyone, try asking him to show you a sign that he exist. Otherwise, I try to avoid participating in foolish & unwise comments. Stop getting so caught up in the term religion because so many believer's practice ways or makes comments that are not of God but understand that a lot of actions God does not agree with.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      For you simpletons...repent or perish.

      Amen.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Whatsamaddau

      HeavenSent, when did Jesus tell his followers to condem non-believers? If I'm not mistaken, didn't he encourage love? People like you will be the downfall of Christianity.

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

      Let's forget for a moment there is a bible. Which of course was written by man. Written by various disciples throughout a generation or two. Most not present at Jesus's death or his "Resurrection." And then they picked the stories they liked best and called it the "New Testament." They stole the rest of it from the Old Testament. And throw out your little personal revelations and miracles. Those are just tricks your mind is playing with you. Where is your empirical evidence? Any evidence at all for a deity? I have faith there are vampires but unfortunately it's very unlikely there are. Can you prove to me there are not vampires? Of course you can't. That does not mean the logical step is to believe in vampires just in case.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Me

      I'm starting to think that HeavenSent is an athiest posing as a Christian. It's people like you that give Christianity a bad name. Your condemnation approach is only serving to fuel the fire, and falls on deaf ears. Please leave intelligent comments, and speak out of love, like you're supposed to. Otherwise, there's no point.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  6. Adam

    Posted this on another CNN "religion" article. Givin it another try.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrT8-hPEzNo&w=640&h=360]

    June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • midwestmatt

      I am, and have been for almost 40 years, an atheist. This clip makes me like Hitchens even more as it is not my goal to drive out belief in a god or God in anyone. It is only to believe as I do and to let others believe as they wish. All I care about is not being forced to believe or not to believe. In my case, I am convinced there is not god that looks like, acts like or even exists like we do but if others choose to do that, sans legislating their belief system into law, I'm completely fine with that.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  7. karl

    Hmmm if an asteroid is days away from hitting earth i will praysuggest that our scientists can find a way to stop it....you can pray for your god to intervene. I have a feeling the scientists would offer more...

    June 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Bran93

      Of course they would. If such an event were to happen and God decided to stop it, he would act through the scientists. Religion and science are not polar opposites you know. There are plenty of religious people in the world who also study science. It's not like "science" is solely used to counter religion. Science, by definition, is simply the process of finding out more about the physical world through experimentation and scientific method.

      Atheists claim not to have a religion, but the way they go about science and how they use the word when comparing it to God makes me think that they have made science their religion. That's why science may leave a bad taste in the mouth of some believers. Atheists are claiming it to be THEIR "thing".

      June 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Petercha

      Good point, Bran93. I am into BOTH science AND religion. They both live quite comfortably side-by-side in my world.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • rdeleys

      @ Bran93 - The thing is that religious claims can't survive the sort of scrutiny that scientific claims get. That's why the religious call it faith. "Faith" doesn't cut it in science.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Ok

      I suppose the sun rises because God made it so. That you have food on your table because of God. That we have life-saving cancer technologies because of God.

      Each statement is explained without the need for a God. If scientists save us from meteors it is because of intellect and scientific understanding. Nothing more.

      If your team wins the Superbowl is it because of God or is that too trivial an assertion? Where then do you draw the line? If I find a nickel on the ground and become richer for it, is it because God made it so or is it because the nickel was minted long ago, traversed many pockets, and I found it simply by chance?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  8. Kathleen

    "God is in me, which makes me wiser and smater than you foolish sinners."
    Last I recall according to the Bible, everyone is a sinner. Anyhow, your comment makes you a nut job.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Which God??

      God is IN you Kathleen? How does it feel? Had an orgasm yet?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      You are the foolish one.

      Amen.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  9. Ricky L

    Explain gravity to me.

    Explain black holes.

    Explain an ever-expanding universe.

    Explain consciousness.

    Explain the Big Bang.

    Explain existentialism.

    Explain God.

    Explain faith in anything.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Ok

      Science doesn't claim to have all the answers. It is a constant search for truth using measurable tactics and reasoning.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Ricky L

      Nice dodge, OK....try to answer the question next time.

      By your standards Faith doesn't have to "explain" anything any more than "science" has to.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Dennis

      "To surrender to ignorance and call it god has always been premature, and remains premature to this day." – Asimov

      June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • babooph

      Or have an invisible mind reader guy come out of the sky & make a man out of some dirt....

      June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Ok

      Don't ever compare faith to science in terms of logic and reasoning. Faith is, by definition, lacking both of those tenets of science.

      Why is your book taken as truth without any questioning whatsoever but my book undergoes peer review?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Ok

      By the same token OP, explain rising from the dead after three days, turning a loaf of bread into enough food for a village, raising a boy from the dead, the concept of the holy spirit, Trinity, or anything else in that God forsaken text?

      I can explain how that text is a message of hate, splitting mankind into groups, pitted against one another. I can explain that's why you hate gay people. I can explain that's why religion-based wars in the Middle East have happened for millennia. Your text has wrought more destruction upon humanity than I can even perceive.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      Ricky, you have eloquently and perhaps inadvertently distinguished a fundamental difference between a believer and a non-believer.

      As a non-believer, I will educate myself about these things instead of asking someone to explain it all for me.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • puhleezho

      2000 years ago people like you said explain to me how the sun rises every morning, explain to me how the seasons change, explain to me how children are conceived, explain to me the lights in the sky... the answer wasn't the anthropocentric god of today.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Petercha

      Ok, as a religious person, I don't claim to have all the answers, either. No religious person I know does. In fact, the Bible implies that we shouldn't make that claim, either, in Isaiah 55:9 – “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." So God's thoughts and ways are much higher than our thoughts and ways. We can't know everything.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Why is your book taken as truth without any questioning whatsoever but my book undergoes peer review?"""

      Nice. Good point.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Ok

      Petercha you do however claim to have the answer. Man was created in the Garden of Eden, Jesus Christ is Lord, God exists, the text is inspired by God. Those are all the answers in your world.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Which God??

      No numbnutz, YOU explain god since you believe in it.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Petercha

      "Those are all the answers in your world." Really, Ok? I think I see where your hatred of religion comes from – you have a incorrect understanding of it. Actually, Ok, I only claim to have SOME answers. I think that many people have SOME answers, in fact. Religion, like science, is usually a SEARCH for answers – but using very different methodologies and looking for answers in completely different areas – science searches for answers in fact; religion, in truth, for example.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Petercha

      "Those are all the answers in your world." Is that so, Ok? I think I see where your hatred of religion comes from – you have a incorrect understanding of it. Actually, Ok, I only claim to have SOME answers. I think that many people have SOME answers, in fact. Religion, like science, is usually a SEARCH for answers – but using very different methodologies and looking for answers in completely different areas – science searches for answers in fact; religion, in truth, for example.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Petercha

      Sorry about the double post – I got an error message and thought that my message had not been posted.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Derek

      No, Petercha, your post is bullshit. Science and religion are not analogous, and religion is generally not a search for truth. Religion is what fools accept when they wimp out instead of looking for truth.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Petercha

      Wow, Derek, you couldn't have said that in a more hateful manner, could you?

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

      Petercha, religion is what ancient people used to explain the world around them. "God did it" was their rallying cry. We understand so much more about the universe and our place in it, thanks to science. Science evolves and self-corrects. Religion is static and stagnant. Religion, with its bigotry, violence and ignorance, holds mankind back from a bright future. One day, humans will look back on the major religions of the world as relics of man's past ignorance. We are bound for the stars - something about which the authors of the Bible had no understanding.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  10. Jill

    Just because he doesnt believe, doesnet mean it isnt true. God is very real, He lives in me. I am saddened for those who have turned from the faith.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Dan

      Similarly, just because you believe doesn't mean god is real

      June 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • chris

      Nah hes not real

      June 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Ricky L

      So which is it, Dan?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Dan

      Who cares? There will never be any way to know

      June 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • karl

      sorry jill but just because you feel something inside doesnt mean that it is god. For all we know it could be an ulcer....you might wanna get checked out by the people capable of helping you instead of the imaginary things..

      June 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Dennis

      Millions of children believe in Santa and they share your strong belief.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • kat85

      There has to be an absolute truth. it can't be two or more. and that is JESUS. JEsus is the way , the truth and the life.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jared

      I agree Jill, and I've witnessed enough to know God is real.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • QS

      There it is, that religious arrogance and self-righteousness I have come to enjoy mocking so much!

      June 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Which God??

      So you're saying that you have multiple personalities, Jill? You and something else called god living in you? Wow. Kinda like 'Alien' huh?,

      June 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Ok

    Religious people should not be allowed to vote. Reason being that they base their decisions on incredibly ridiculous principles and beliefs. In the same manner someone with mental handicap that prevents them from forming a coherent understanding of subject matter should not be permitted to vote.

    Should I be allowed to vote if the reason I'm voting for or against something is predicated on the fact that I have voices in my head that tell me to vote a certain way?

    Only sound reason, logic, principles and individual morals should be merits for casting a ballot.

    Look at the politicians who say God is calling them to be President. Then they lose, I supposed God changed his mind did he? That kind of insanity should be kept out of politics on this Earth. The political decisions of this country affect many across the world and those decisions should only be made with sound mind and reason.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Santorum still thinks he's going to be president and has refused to come out in support of Romney. I think it's hilarious.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Petercha

      Wow, you are willing to disenfranchise a ton of people, just because you disagree with them? Wow. Just wow.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Tom

      Who are you to judge who gets to vote or not? I think people like you shouldn't be allowed to vote, this is my country too!

      June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • charles

      The same can be said about non-religious folks. They have no soul. No heart. Atheist only want the worst for everyone else.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • SeattleMark952

      Many religions seem pretty crazy and irrational. However, everyone does something that other people don't believe in. I wouldn't even consider depriving others the right to vote (based on their religion). Someone would look at someone and say: "He drinks, he's fat, he drives fast, etc." and discriminate. That's the beauty of American, everyone is free to believe according to the dictates of the conscience. Even Atheism is a de facto religion (as a faith that no God exists). Many religions are like Atheism (requiring little sacrifice).

      June 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • poochiebaby

      ok, that's absurd. religious leaders should not be allowed to vote because they vote their conscious? maybe i would feel that your principles that guide your decisions are "ridiculous". does that mean you shouldn't be allowed to vote? the mentally ill have the right to vote and should exercise it if they choose. medication exists, but that doesn't matter. what about jews? muslims? they shouldn't be allowed to vote? gays and lesbians? atheists??? all can have "ridiculous" principles according to someone. many believe that atheists are illogical.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Ok

      I don't wish any harm upon anyone. I only ask that the Bible or any other religious text not be a basis for casting votes. If your reason to vote against gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, or any other controversial issue is "the Bible says XYZ" you should not be permitted to vote. Period.

      Provide reasons (not based on religion) gay people should not be permitted the same happiness. Provide reasons (not based on religion) that stem cell research is detrimental to humanity. Provide reasons that eliminating a zygote for the sake of the parents is morally wrong.

      It's not soulless. It's not lacking morals.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Ok

      I am not an atheist I am agnostic. I don't pretend to know what, if anything exists. I don't have all the answers, perhaps eventually science will be able to tell us what is really happening. That's not the point. I realize my decisions and my vote impacts people here and now. I realize that the best decision I can make is based on the facts at hand, not based on what I "believe" or what is in some book.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Tom

      Taking away any Americans right to vote is harming them. If an American can't vote based on their beliefs then why should you? Your not any better than anyone else just because you think you are don't mean a thing.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  12. MateoinSLC

    There's a sucker born (again) every minute

    June 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  13. Jack

    Hello everyone. If you have some time, please visit my web site... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Everyone... Don't go. His site is pretty lame.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  14. The Dennis Family

    As a member of a church where our ex-pastor "came out" on MSNBC, my husband knew 2 years before that there were serious issues from this minister.
    It is rather easy to spot. One who tries to play "devils advocate" during a study of the Bible. Whilst having a 2 way dialogue between Christians can be spirited, it is disheartening when your pastor gives a profanity driven diatribe about how the Bible is slanted.
    I'm just glad that he is gone, and that the leaders we have in our church now understand there are 2 sides of the coin, but also understand the "flock" looks towards the Bible and the teachings for a positive message.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Ok

      By playing devil's advocate I suppose you mean using common sense?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • PumpNDump

      Intelligent adults don't believe in myths and fables, like "god", "jesus", the easter bunny, santa clause and the tooth fairy.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • MK

      I'm glad he wised up and is gone, too!

      June 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Dennis

      I can understand that.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Which God??

      Seems as though your whole family is misguided, and you are the main reason. You have brainwashed your kids into thinking that there is something out there that cares for them. Wrong.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • bembol

      I feel sorry for your family. You are leading them into a life of lies, hyprocrisy and denial of what is true.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  15. mrkusn

    This story confounds me and I appreciate the authenticity and courage of DeWitt. I was a minister at one point as well. Although I am not formally active in pulpit ministry right now, I still believe. Faith is a heartbreak – we put everything into it and it never promises success, painlessness, nor an easy road. As a Christian I believe that my faith is a gift based upon God's work and not my own. I actually used to be an atheist myself and at the same age DeWitt began preaching I was converted to Christ. Christians do doubt – they don't like to admit it, but they do. The ones who say they don't need to really examine themselves more carefully. Faith is not based upon "my earnestness and sincerity of thinking and feeling about Jesus and the Bible" but rather upon the finished historical and divine work of Christ. Faith built upon my own senses alone will ultimately cease.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • doughnuts

      Sad to see that you chickened out.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • QS

      As a history book, the bible leaves MUCH to be desired.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jared

      You see everything in ministry. In the course of a year I saw a old biker gang member be healed of an old self inflicted injury, and a deacon’s kid proclaim his love for God and desire to change during a youth service, only go rob a store an hour later. Ours is a path of brokenness.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Which God??

      You lie. How do I know? you posted some of the most inane drivele here, trying to justify yourself. Liar.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • MRKUSN

      @Which God? Are you responding to my post or do you have another agenda?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • bembol

      Faith is the suspension of reason.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Notaboutme

      God bless you.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  16. madsciguy

    Wow, I applaud this man and this organization. Religious brainwashing starts at birth, and young minds aren't even given a chance to grow without doctrine being forced onto them. I'm an agnostic who struggled for years to come to terms with the conflict between my Catholic upbringing and the critical thought that came with adulthood. I hope every person with those types of conflicts can find peace in this overly brainwashed society.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • CW

      Religious nuts sure do love their dogma.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Blessed

      A lot of people's such as mines belief in the one & only true God & his son Jesus Christ has nothing to do with brainwashing. It has to do with my experiece & God has saved me from things an average unbeliever would be able to comprehend. It's things that science cannot explain. It's an overwhelming feeling when you come in contact with his holy spirit that is like no other on this earth. The logic or reasoning that is used to address believer's are used in the same sense to address non-believer's. Scientists cannot disprove that God does not exist, they only have theories which are not facts. Do some research on how science has proved bible accuracy in the 18th & 19th century but yet it was written over 2000 years ago when humans did not have any sort of technology to verify bibical accuracy. Also, do research on people who were atheists & became believers of Jehovah God as well. There's a story of a girl from Russia as well who was raised atheist & her parents never had spoken about God nor had she heard of him & she started talking about him & receiving visions & now her parents are believers.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • QS

      See comment from Blessed for evidence of religious indoctrination and brainwashing. 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Blessed

      QS (lol), did you do the research as I suggested in my comment on atheist who are now believers? Did you do any on how science has proved not theorized a lot of bibical accuracy? If you are saying indoctrination in the sense of believing because I know he's real without a shady of a doubt based on what he has done for me & saved my life, I am so indoctrinated in the truth & reality. So sad that you're so blind to the truth & your thoughts are very foolish to say the least but anyways have a blessed day.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Which God??

      Nice call, madsciguy.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • recovering catholic

      Strange to say I remember dreams I had when I was about 2 years old. Dreams that the heat register in the floor was a gateway to hell, and the devil would rise up and chase me. When I was about 6, I had recurring dreams that the ground would open beneath my feet after a voice had said "Where do you want to go, heaven or hell?" and before I could answers the voice laughed and said "You're going to hell!" I would fall into a fiery pit where the devil – complete with horns and pitchfork – would proceed to chase me until I woke up. What kind of loving and caring parents (and in my case grandparents) would fill a young child's mind with such horror that it would create these recurring nightmares? To me, THIS is religion – and it says it all. Stop poisoning children's minds – especially in the name of "love".

      June 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Recovering From Religion

      Thank you! We love what we do 🙂 We have a "Recovering Catholics" board on our online discussion forum, if you're interested. We appreciate your encouragement and support!

      June 14, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  17. Bob

    Their is a valid word for these people, it's hypocrite.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • rdeleys

      No, the word to describe these people is honest.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • ed galbraith

      Sorry, "Bob", the only hypocrite is one who claims "belief" and is not telling the truth. I know hundreds of them. You?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Ted

      The word you're looking for is "enlightened".

      June 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Their is a valid word for these people, it's hypocrite."""

      DING DING DING! Wrong answer Bob.

      The correct word is "EVOLVED"

      June 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Which God??

      No Bob, it's called getting smart and freeing oneself of a constricitng dorman and theology that is based on nothing more than fooking wishful thinking! You call it 'faith.' Sad.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  18. DSB

    Interesting and sad. A real "man bites dog/god" news story.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  19. David M

    "And I'm happy to say as I stand before you right now, I'm going to burn with you."

    You're happy to say you'll spend eternity in hell? Interesting statement.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Dan

      Obviously atheists don't believe in hell

      June 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • madsciguy

      You may have missed the sarcasm and irony in his statement....he doesn't believe hell exists....

      June 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • AngelaL

      It was a poor choice of words on her part. No, atheists do not believe they're going to burn in hell. They realize hell doesn't actually exist. She was making a joke.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • ed galbraith

      "Sarcasm" is wasted on fools.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • chelle52370

      Kind of hard to go somewhere that doesn't exist. Since Hell is a Christian construct and he isn't a Christian, he can't go there.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  20. HeavenSent

    God is in me, which makes me wiser and smarter than you foolish sinners. ignore my words and perish.

    Amen.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Dan

      I don't think so, I've seen your previous posts

      June 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • CW

      Christian arrogance and pride at its finest, aye. Isn't that one of your classic sins? Oh the irony of all the hypocrisy.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Huebert

      @HS

      I love how humble you are

      June 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I cannot expect the foolish sinners to understand my posts. I can only pray that they leave their stupidity behind and step into the light.

      Amen.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • joe

      you are delusional.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      CW

      You are confusing arrogance with the wisdom that I share.

      Amen.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Which God??

      So you have a 'split personality' as well,HS? No wonder you talk both out of your butt and mouth, at the same time. Hey is that a miracle?Which end does god talk from? You are a religious nut if there ever was one.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • just sayin

      Which God??

      And you are a fool headed for hell.

      Amen.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hell I SAY!!!!!!!!!

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

      HeavenSent, please spend some time in the library. Add broccoli and brussels sprouts to your diet

      June 14, 2012 at 6:56 am |
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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.