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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

    Humans are social animals. Our brains developed ways of promoting complex interaction and communication with one another. It has worked out great for us, but one downside is that it can mislead us to relate to world as another intelligent being.

    Purpose, intention and creation are anthropic concepts. They don't apply to physical reality.

    When lightning strikes and murders your friend, it is an intuitive to misinterpret it as punishment. This kind of thinking is the root error of religion.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  2. Cesar Castillo

    All I have to say to the athiests at work hating, resembling the opposer, is ..Iran and Israel the lights are blinking dont ignore them syria will be the seed...Russia is sending copters to assads retartedass dont ignore the headlines on CNN! There is a threat! and its at work son buhbye have a good evening everybody I will, with a chop rolled up watching netflix...by the way google: nagas quetzacoatl feathered dinosaurs plumed serpent meaning of "dracula" draco thuban

    June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  3. Sarita

    I'm so happy for and proud of DeWitt and all of the brave clergy members making these tough decisions! People like them make it easier for people like me to be open and honest about being a happy healthy atheist.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  4. Sidney

    Good for him. I used to be a firm believer too until I realized it was all man-made fiction. I now know why preachers so heavily discourage reading anything that contradicts the bible. It's all part of their brainwashing tactics which usually starts by targetting young kids. Preachers keep saying that the world is evil. They are the evil ones for continuing this fraud.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  5. PS25

    All hail the Almighty Spaghetti Monster and his noodly armed mercy!

    June 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Manuel

      I know a former Pastafarian minister who has turned to athiesm. Similar story!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      A fool hath said in his heart that there is no sauce.

      Ramen

      June 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  6. jill

    Bryan Kirchoff,

    Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent.Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.

    So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril.

    Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise.

    And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Manuel

      Uh oh, Jill's got the spirit in her!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Chris

      Is that you, Tarzan from Survivor?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  7. The Dog Delusion

    What's the over/under on number of LSU football games this backwoods Bubba DeWitt prayed for during his believin days?

    June 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  8. Jean

    I would be surprised if there aren't more out there, at least among those that graduated from legitimate divinity or theology schools. I was in college (a religiously affiliated one) taking theology classes when I realized for the first time that what I had accepted without question wasn't exactly true, or not as neatly packaged as I had believed. I learned that many books and letters were considered for inclusion in the bible. It wasn't delivered in a package from Heaven. A group of men decided which ones to include and which to exclude. A divine decision maybe...or maybe not. I learned that the gospels differ in that they were written for different audiences and for different purposes. I had never noticed it, until it was pointed out. I learned that what is taken to be the core beliefs of Christians (the stories about the birth and crucifixion and the meaning) are actually a combination of the four gospels, something from this one..something from that one. I learned that much of what is accepted as doctrine was written by one individual, Paul. Was he divinely inspired? Maybe...maybe not. At first I was angry, but I've come to realize that the church and the bible were created by human men with human shortcomings. For me, it doesn't mean that there isn't ultimately something Divine, but it may well be different than what I was taught to believe.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • tony

      eventually you will probably figure out that our entire universe runs on the basis that nothing divine has ever existed in it. At least not since the apparent big bang.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Lux Et Veritas

      The Church was and is definitely created by man. People should not see a 'church' as their salvation. Not the pastors, the congregation, or church leaders. The only true church is 'Christ'.

      Matthew 16:18
      New Living Translation (©2007)
      Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means 'rock'), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

      Believers make up the 'body of Christ'. It's that simple. With that said, I believe the Bible came together divinely as the inspired Word of God. Can I prove that? No. Is that part of my faith? Yes. Do I believe the Bible is the only work of God? No. It is a written Work of God, as I said, divinely inspired IMHO ~ and God's hand moved accordingly to bring it together. But I also believe that every creation from the dawn of time, going back millions of years, is the work of God. I'm not a fundamentalist, and don't adhere to every literal interpretation of the Bible. There is a science of God. God creates, then destroys, creates, then wipes out again ~ not only this world but the universe... and how long this cycle will continue is anyone's guess.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Alan Foster

      Dad-gum logic messes everything up, don't it?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  9. Kip

    They must have done some things that were God-awful... now they don't have to risk facing the Burning Fires off thee Devil -cuz they don't believe... so it's all good! lol

    June 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  10. Ndidi

    “Thousands of organizations will help you get INTO religion, but we’re the only one helping you OUT.”

    Lol Why does this dude make it sound like getting out of a cult or like alcoholics anonymous or drug rehab? haha xD

    June 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Don

      Because it is.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • patrick

      because, it is!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Tammi

      I think you would be surprised to learn what you should be thankful that apparently, you don't know. Just saying.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Bad Religion

      to a large degree it is an addiction

      June 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • FreeAndProudOfIt

      "Because it is."

      Where is the 'like' button when I need it?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Gearloose

      Because it is!

      June 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • QS

      Religion inevitably leads people to a place of self-righteousness, a sense of such superiority and self-importance, that to extract oneself from that is akin to getting over any other addiction.

      You miss it, feel depressed without it, feel like you need it to be able to function normally and even start physically having cravings for a fix.

      Then, once it's completely out of your system, you realize just how much you DON'T need it....at all.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  11. Nobland

    Any God that requires or expects worship is pretty shaky in my eyes. I have rejected the theory that we are at the center of the universe, that we were created in God's image and all things were created for our use, abuse and pleasure.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Manuel

      The gods image thing is great to talk about. Like why would god need eyes. does he only see the visible spectrum? How about hands? does he need to pick things up? A digestive system? to eat what? Does god poop? black holes maybe.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • tony

      Watch the original "bedazzled". The funny part is when Satan is expelled for asking "Is it my turn to be worshipped yet?"

      June 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Bad Religion

      Or why if they believe we were created in its image do the christians hate gays among other groups?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  12. Ian

    Let's be honest Jerry Dewitt doesn't know either way. He believed in God in his earlier years based on his life experiences, now he doesn't believe in God because of his experiences. Atheists turn Christian, doesn't mean Christianity is true... It's all subjective.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Kris Wood

      Err...you miss the whole point. The point is about being true to your belief. Not about the truth of the belief. He's preaching for people to not lie to themselves about what they believe. You don't seem capable of comprehending this?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • sam stone

      Let's be honest. No one KNOWS one way or the other

      June 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      But whether or not a god exists isn't subjective at all. It is entirely objective, which is why it's very honest of him to admit that there's absolutely no objective evidence for God's existence at all.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  13. tony

    ATHEISM WORKS 100%! Non-prayers are non-anwered. Non-worship prevents descent into non-hell. Health and life-insurance rates stay the same. Just as many children are born without miracles and there is just as much pleasure and happiness and joy in life. And random non-acts of god are just as dangerous.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • swisscottage

      100% of atoms don't get up and walk around on their own

      June 13, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • tony

      Actually they all have tons of energy and the ones in our solar system have plenty of motion relative to other stars.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Alan Foster

      Don't confuse Swisscottage with physics and chemistry...time works just as well.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  14. DrewNumberTwo

    I saw Jerry on the Atheist Experience. He gets my respect for being serious about skepticism. Jerry, you need to get a job in counseling, or try a non-profit that you can get behind. Good luck with your new life.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  15. really

    It still baffles me that people write their own gospels to suit their needs.

    Why is it not possible for there to be a God and Evolution? Can they both not exist or are we too blinded by our own fears?

    June 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Eric Hill

      None of them have read Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,

      June 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Manuel

      It is impossible to tell what exists outside our universe. Or even to know if there is an outside to our universe. It is just as likely that there is a god out there with magic powers as there is a giant pokemon, or not being able to have an outside at all. Pointless to ponder since we could never understand it. Flies on windshields.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • tony

      God would have nothing to do then.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      Because then you are forced to decide which parts of the Bible are literal. If one part is metaphor, why not all parts?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • swisscottage

      There can be both – that's what I believe

      June 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Manuel

      god could be busy just being the universe. a math formula with everything in it. like a super version of pi.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      And maybe it's possible that lightning is natural, but Zeus controls it. Or that the aliens started life on earth and that Jesus was an extraterrestrial.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  16. Dayle

    Evolution is in and of itself divine enough for me. The human heart and mind is divine enough for me. Earth and the heavens are divine enough for me. And if God existed I believe that would be divine enough for God. Worship not necessary.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  17. Eric Hill

    Proselytzing atheists now? Don't I have enough knuckleheads coming to my door? If a pentecostal can go from being a theist to an atheist, can't they go from speaking in tongues to being a mime and STFU?

    June 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Kris Wood

      So you'd rather only be told you must believe than told you can be free to just be yourself? Commie.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • QS

      You will never have an Atheist come to your door trying to convince you to "join up"....ever.

      That kind of desperate act is reserved for the religious zealots.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  18. Bryan Kirchoff

    In response to the, thus far, 270 or so pastors who have “converted” to atheism (and it is a faith-based ideology), it would be interesting for CNN to do a corresponding article on the likely substantially larger number of people who have converted from atheism to theism. I probably have known a half-dozen just myself; the website “Why I’m Catholic” has a category of biographies dedicated to such converts.

    Regarding Mr. DeWitt’s very heartfelt, thoughtful concerns, they are not particularly new or novel in Christian circles and probably speak more to his ministerial preparation than the validity of those worries. (Note that his denomination allowed him to become a minister at age 17.) So, to consider those:

    1) The problem of Hell. Many people have no problem with the (empirically unprovable) concept of infinity, even using it as an explanation for a universe that seems to arisen from a particular event (i.e. the universe has infinite expanse, or is a member of an infinite number of universes, that has existed for an infinite amount of time). However, they have great trouble with the idea of getting stuck in a negative state of being for an infinite amount of time, even though there is no proof that we do not continue to exist in some form after death. (Note that no one ever complains about the endless happiness of heaven, even though our flawed lives hardly warrant it.) Mr. DeWitt’s denomination may have a rather literalist approach to Scripture, which can cause problems, so I will offer, as best I can, the more nuanced Catholic view:

    – As Dinesh D’Souza (a great author for explaining theism to skeptics) put it, we have a misconception of eternity as “1,000,000,000 AD”; actually, heaven and hell are outside of time, i.e. past, present, and future are all the same thing. So people aren’t clock-watching in Hell while being whipped – they are frozen in a terrifying loneliness and realization of what they could have had.
    – God does not send people to Hell, we choose it. Scripture says there is only one unforgivable sin, which is sin against the Spirit (which I’ve seen explained as knowing rejection of God or disbelief that God can forgive ones sins). Who in their right mind would pick such a torturous fate? Mainly people who think what they are choosing in place of God is “heaven”. I’ve seen it astutely put that a loving God gives people what they love most for all eternity, and if that is yourself, that is what you get.
    – All that said, we do not know for a fact that anyone is in Hell. Under Catholic theology, for a sin to be mortal (i.e. utterly destructive to God’s grace within the individual), it has to be a serious matter, done with full knowledge and full consent. All of those are hard to assess, and many atheists probably have a lack of the middle (i.e. being so convinced by their worries and their peers that they are right as to no longer be open-minded toward the possibility of God). Christ Himself prayed “forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
    – Furthermore, it is doubtful that Mr. DeWitt’s denomination entertains the idea of Purgatory, thus leaving him in a starkly black-and-white situation: Slightest sin – Hell. Lack of faith – Hell. The concept of Purgatory (Scripturally based on Macabees, as well as Paul’s discussion that a man’s works will be tested, as if by fire, and burned up, though the man himself will be saved) is a process after death by which those who have not chosen Hell through their actions go through a final conforming of their will to God’s and removal of the after-effects of sin, so as to be suitable for a morally perfect state of being. The severity of this process depends on the severity of one’s sin during earthly life.

    Incidentally, Catholics do not believe that non-Catholics (or non-Christians) automatically go to Hell. While Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the only way to the Father, He performs that function whether the person knows it or not. On earth, He performs that function via His body, the Church.

    2) The “failure” of prayer. God is not a vending machine that dispenses earthly comforts if we take the right steps. Too many atheists make the fundamental mistake of trying to evaluate the Intelligence that created all existence as a peer (i.e. “this God does not do things the way I would do them, so He doesn’t make enough sense to exist”), when a much more appropriate analogy (though still pale by comparison) is that of a four year-old child to his/her parent. The Author of space and time, safe to say, has a much broader perspective on the workings of the universe, history, and the future and how even the smallest detail – such as our requests – fits the bigger picture. If He turns something down, we can trust it did not fit the bigger picture.

    So why does God want us to pray, even though He already knows His preferred course of action? Why does a parent want a child to ask for something, even when the parent knows what the child needs and likes ahead of time? Because communicating shows both effort and love. If a child asks for something for himself/herself, it shows he/she cares enough to ask and realizes his/her dependence (i.e. place in the scheme of the things). If a child asks for something for a friend, it shows genuine human concern, and Jesus explicitly commanded you should love your neighbor as yourself. Mr. DeWitt was distraught that he would pray for someone to land a job, but they did not; does he really feel better now, when all he can offer a person without a job is “well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles – darn impersonal universe…”? (And yes, Christian churches also use their God-given gifts to build tangible ministries for job-hunting, etc. so we don’t just sit around doing nothing but praying for outcomes.)

    Again, I realize Mr. DeWitt has undertaken a sincere journey, but I do not believe he has taken it as far as it can go. I suspect it would lead him close to where he came from.

    Bryan Kirchoff
    St. Louis

    June 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Eric Hill

      Wow. This was LONG.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Kris Wood

      TL:DR Gays are bad.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • tony

      It's only "TO" religion that is a "conversion". All babies are born as atheists. Otherwise they'd all come out having the same religion. Which pretty much proves the non-existence of a god in our Universe.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Andy_Anderson

      You sure do use a lot of words to say nothing at all.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Lux Et Veritas

      Though I'm not Catholic, thank you so much for putting this out there. I especially like the fact that you drew more positive correlation to God with your statement about more atheists becoming believers as opposed to what amounts to a miniscule number of former believers embracing atheism. That said, there should be concern about these former pastors turning their backs on God. I imagine a few of them will go back to God eventually, and once again embrace what they once supposedly believed. But it's hard to say. I would hazard to guess, some of them weren't believers to begin with. Even there, however, a few may come around and seek out God. All is not lost...

      June 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • PS25

      Well I'm convinced...

      June 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Jim McTeigue

      Very, very well written, Mr. Kirchoff, and you certainly raise some thought provoking points. However, undermining a person's reasons for believing something to be untrue does not prove that it is, indeed, true. I believe your intent is to argue for a Christian belief but instead it comes across more as an argument for agnosticism. If you don't mind the time, I would love to see such a thoughtful argument advocating for your particular belief system.

      Jim McTeigue

      June 13, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • jill

      Bryan Kirchoff,

      Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent.Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.

      So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril.

      Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise.

      And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • cestlavie3

      Touche.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Manuel

      I'm going to start worshipping jill.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      The Roman Catholic view is the pagan and false view. The article about Mr. Dewitt has one of the crucial answers..it concerns the black spot of Christianity, the belief of an eternal torture chamber for those who die lost, i.e. the opposite of those who have recieved Jesus as lord and savior and remained faithful because they love God. It is IMPOSSIBLE for the human mind to reconcile the idea of a loving God who at the same time or at any time is an eternal torturer, that for a few short years of earthly life as say a "good" person (world standard) or as a totally corrupt and evil person for say 50 years, that the punishment will be ETERNAL torture. Anyone who doubts God because of this eternal torment in hell doctrine, you have a reason to smile . Look up and smile. That teaching is a lie of Satan...in fact it stems from his first lie "thou shalt surely not die" . You need to study this thing from Genesis to Revelation and you will find to your delight it is a false doctrine and that God is a God of Love through and through. What a shame that Mr. Dewitts fall into unbelief was caused by a lie of Satan. What a further shame it is that countless Christians are in the same path to one degree or another.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Choice for everyone

      @ Bryan Kirchoff, CNN panders to the majority of it's readers/viewers in the same manner as Fox News......if there is anyone reporting impartial news and you can find them please share!

      June 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  19. Child of God

    If you say you "knew Christ" and then suddenly don't want anything to do with Him you didn't know Him in the first place. Who in the world would ever turn away from an almighty creator who puts us above his never ending universe. I'd just like to know who you non believers think gave you the brain to agree or disagree. Who gave you fingers to type all of your hate and discord on these message boards...who gave you the complex eyes that allow you to read all of the hate and discord on these message boards. You can look across the street and see a building...you don't know WHO built is but you know that SOMEONE did....duh......Satan has blinded EVERY non believer and he's very happy that he is gonna drag you down to hell with him....non-believers WILL bow down to the Creator one day but it will be too late then. BTW...Satan WILL stir you up while you read this so I'm sure many will respond with anger...not a suprise....you fall into the deceivers hands just like he wants you to...go right ahead....knock yourselves out...maybe you can all decide where your complex body and brain came from.......probably just poofed out of nowhere....isn't that how all of the buildings in the world were made???

    June 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Kris Wood

      And ant probably thinks so. Don't you wish you had a bit more awareness than an ant? Oh well. Enjoy obliviousness!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Child of God

      BTW.....I really don't care what anyone posts concerning my post. The only thing I care about is possibly one person allowing God into their heart and living with Him for eternity. God Bless each and everyone of you.....some of you are gonna need it.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • tony

      Nobody alive knows Christ. He's dead unfortunately. And that probably says the same for the already dead.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • JustaNormalPerson

      You do realize that Satan doesn't really exist?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      Ding, Ding, Ding – You've officially barfed up the 666th No True Scotsman Fallacy of the thread.

      You win absolutely nothing and should be ashamed of yourself.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Edwardo

      Used to be, when someone had an epileptic seizure, it was visible proof of demonic posession. We now know that isn't the case. Your theory has a huge hole in it. Who created the creator? If it takes a god to create intelligence, to create something from nothing, who created god's intelligence and him from nothing.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      "God Bless each and everyone of you.....some of you are gonna need it."

      Hey, you wouldn't be a True Christian (TM) without that passive aggressive threat at the end, now would you?

      June 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • QS

      LMAO! The tone of your comment was designed to elicit anger, then you try to use that to say "not surprised" as though it were some shock that your religious ugliness would have that effect.

      I see right through you.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • PS25

      There is a lot of self righteous smugness in your comment on this story.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • headlessthompsongunner

      Are you talking about the Christ that supposedly favors Republicans over Democrats? Or is it maybe the Christ that favors The US over other nations? Is He the one that approves of the wars that we start as \"good and just wars\"? Is Christ the one that would rather have a power lunch with Newt Gingrich than help Jimmy Carter build homes for the poor? Maybe Chist hasn\'t been spending much time in The Sudan lately because he\'s been so concerned about gay people getting married. No... your right. These things arent true are they.

      You see, most people don\'t have a problem with Christ, they have a issue with American Christians. When athiests seem more compassionate than Christians, you have a dilemma. Your religion/political party should have considered about 30 years ago

      June 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • warofattrition

      brian and child of god 🙂 amen my brothers in yeshua, the truth is only seen by those who arent blinded,and to those who are blinded when you see truth that is simple and irrefutable in someones hands you spit upon their face........ to all the believers in christ it time to stand up and fight for this world,dont ever lose the love that brought you here in the first place

      June 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • QS

      "to all the believers in christ it time to stand up and fight for this world,dont ever lose the love that brought you here in the first place."

      Can't....breathe....must....stop....laughing!

      June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Harley91

      Amen, may the Grace of God shower your days.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      May the grace of god golden shower your days

      June 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  20. Lux Et Veritas

    JustaNormalPerson

    You are totally delusional. Nero wanted to confiscate a lot of land in the center of Rome and had it set afire. The christians were just a convenient scapegoat. He then spent oodles of money for a large palace complex. By the way, not a single historian would consider your statement anything other than delusional.

    ***
    I'm sorry that doesn't square with you. Nero did in fact despise the Christians, had them tortured, and ergo, the fall of Rome came on the heals of that ~ I suggest something more spiritual was at work there than meets the eye. But nonetheless, you can have your own opinion, and yes, others may agree with you wholeheartedly I don't know what I'm talking about ~ it doesn't faze me in the least. I know exactly where you're coming from. And believe me, I understand. Completely.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Rick James

      No you don't. Nero was before the "5 Good Emperors" dynasty from 96 to 192 AD (Nero was 54 to 68). Nero torturing Christians, while thoughtful, didn't bring down Rome. Only after Rome adopts Christianity as an attempt to unifying an empire that was going through hell in 395 did the whole thing collaspe 81 years later, at least the Western part. And even at that, the fall of Rome was because of multiple causes.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • JustaNormalPerson

      Rome did not fall then. Point me to one real historian that says so.Historians date the fall of Rome on September 4, 476, unless you consider the eastern empire as a continuation of Rome. Then the date is May 29, 1453.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:46 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.