home
RSS
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. auntiechrist

    xians choose to be mentally handicapped. that they teach their kids the garbage is borderline abuse.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Have you seen how atheism's children are killing each other, on drugs, gangs, theives, etc., etc.?

      Speaking of garbage, you people need to do a better job at teaching them the value of life.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Atheism has children? Since when?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Frank

      Y'all, HeisDog is a known psychotic. Please just ignore.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Don't act dumb, Tom Tom, you know exactly what I am talking about.

      Atheism = Religion

      June 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, Higgy. Your posts read as if they were written by a microcephalic and then translated into Spanglish.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Bet

      @ heisgod

      Actually, no. Do you have some statistics that prove that atheistic children commit more crimes?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  2. Lux Et Veritas

    And we are to believe this former pastor receives no money on atheism and preaching that particular gospel thereof? He does it for free? How does he pay for his hotel stays and renting convention areas to get out his messages? Does his group pay for that? And his house will be in foreclosure because of it? Omgosh. Well, good luck to him. He's going to need it ~ both he and his family. His former congregational members should still pray for him.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • ME II

      That is generally what the article is about, how difficult it is for a preacher to "come out" as an atheist and that the Clergy Project is trying to help.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  3. HeIsGod

    Poor man, he went from bad to worse.

    Atheism = death

    Religion = death

    Both go hand in hand.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      christianity = stupidity

      June 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Christianity through Christ = LIFE

      Don't deceived by Atheism and religion.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  4. Faith

    I believe in and follow Christ. If when I die, it turns out to not be true (which I believe with my very being and in all my heart won't happen because I have experienced Him here in this life,) I would rather spend my days with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are: humble, forgiving, full of love, kindness, gentleness, not boastful, responsible, keep their commitments, aren't all about being hedonistic or full of themselves and their own "intellect"....rather than atheists who I find are: cynical, smart alecky, full of their own intellect and importance, not humble, quick to criticize, not very tender. I love my fellow Christians. I am married to one and we have a beautiful life together humbly seeking God and loving those around us. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Amistavia

      So how's that "judge not" thing working for you?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Strong Man

      But you are also admittedly mentally ill.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Faith

      I'm not judging anyone. I grew up around atheists, humanists, anti God people. I know what I am talking about. I am defending my fellow Christians. I am tired of them being mocked.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Amen!!! I will see you in heaven.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Faith

      That comment (about being mentally ill) is EXACTLY what I mean. I would never care to spend my life around people like you. I have a beautiful life. A long lasting marriage, three wonderful children, a great church family.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "I will see you in Heaven." Only if "Heaven" is what you call the day room on the psych ward.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Strong Man

      Those people are all around you. Watching you.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • OOO

      I'm glad you found a small group of good people.
      I have found the opposite to be true in my small circle. The atheists are all the good things you mentioned, the christians all the bad.
      Just goes to show you... It's not a good thing to generalize people.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Amistavia

      If you have the beliefs of a fool, expect to be mocked.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • DrPhibes

      Do a search on "Pascal's Wager". I think you'll find it informative.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Faith

      Amen HeisGod! 🙂 And for the others... wow, you make my point so well!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Mark Glomski

      Heaven to me is lots of beautiful naked women and an open bar.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Replace "women" with "12 year old boys" and you could be a priest.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Tamara

      I'm glad you're happy. You must be because you are trying very hard to sell us on the fact that you are. So much for being 'not boastful'.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Strong Man

      Glad you have a beautiful lie together. Keep up the snake bites and faith healing. Just make sure to get antibiotics for your children when they get sick. Don't expect your god to heal them too. Oh and look out for earthquakes, get under the doorway when they happen. Also remember that mental illness runs in the family so you may want to look into that sort of thing early. Prevention is possible. It's okay to ask for help. Suicide is not the answer.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Strong Man

      I am very sorry for your illness. Seriously.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Faith

      Tamara, if you read the bible, you would see that we are told: if you are going to boast – boast about the glory of Christ. And that's what I am doing. EVERYTHING good in my life is because of Jesus. Everything. And I love him dearly. It isn't about me at all.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Faith

      Funny screen name – Strong Man. There is nothing strong about you. You have weak character.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Strong Man

      Coming from someone calling themselves faith, you prop yourself up with crutches.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Keep up the good work, Faith! God bless you.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      An Ad Hominem is considered good work? When did this happen?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  5. Joe

    What is so sad is that with todays knowledge in science, more and more scientific research has confirm intllegent design is the only we exist and is proving God is real everyday. I find it ironic how athiest still are athiest with all the scientific proof we have today.

    DNA research, well we now know it couldn't have mutated from a pool of muck or evolved from ape. Our DNA structure has an extra element that seperates us from muck and ape. This change in the dna structure could not have been from evolution. That's a fatc

    The so called flood in Noa days, oh yea science has provien it happened

    Sodom and Gomora being destroyed as the bible indicates with fire, that happened too according to research

    and that Jesus guy, fact is we have proof he existed

    So athiest all I can say, is try real hard not to believe, but the scientific proof discovered every day is starting to prove your wrong.

    Accept it, get on your knees and ask for forgiveness before it's too late.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • ME II

      "Our DNA structure has an extra element that seperates us from muck and ape."
      What are you talking about?

      There is no evidence of a global Noah-like flood.

      You're making this up, right?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      HA, GLORY TO GOD!!!!!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @Joe

      I thought about debating each of your points, but I don't think it would have that much affect. Basically, you're wrong on every point (for reasons you probably can't understand).

      Let's pick the Noah flood. Nope. Never happened. Impossible for about a million reasons; didn't happen according to EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF EVIDENCE we have found. It didn't happen, and it couldn't have happened. Jesus said it did; therefore, jesus was either lying or not the son of god. Whatcha think?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And of course, Higgy, who doesn't know how to read anything that has words of more than two syllables, is falling all over herself to kiss another zealot's ass.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Chris D.

      Joe, Joe, Joe...

      *facepalm*

      Pretty much every claim you made is just plain wrong. You really need to stop getting your science from fools like the Hovinds.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • JustaNormalPerson

      Joe, read real science, not what is in the comic books.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Joe –

      Do yourself a favor...get your science from scientists (hint: If "creation" is part of their "science", they're not really scientists). You might also consider reading the works of historians who don't have the words "biblical" or "theological" in their degrees. Really...I'm serious.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Tamara

      You obviously do not understand the definition of scientific proof. I shake my head at your ignorance.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • me

      dude what ever your smoking is not good for you.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Joe

      I really hope that was satire because I couldn't stop laughing all through your post.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      Your body is going to die one day. When that happens, your spirit will exit your carcass. Do u think it's gonna be like the movie "Ghost" with Demi...(Oooo Demi), trying to achieve the ultimate by kicking the soda can and chasing that long haired, trench coat wearing,cross eyed freak?? Huh? Do ya? Or do you have that subtle uneasiness that you're gonna be ushered into the presence of a Holy God that is the epitome of righteousness in all purity and beauty arrayed in a blinding, soul penetrating light of Glory and that ya might find yourself....uh......ill prepared to handle? Oh....I guess that's just my reptile brains trying to preserve itself. Nevermind.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • ME II

      @ReligiousIgnorance,
      What spirit, exactly, are you talking about?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Bet

      Please provide the peer reviewed, legitimately published scientific evidence for Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah, and DNA structure that you claim exists.

      FYI, I am a molecular biotechnologist, so I'll be real interested in this scholarly DNA research that you talk about.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  6. HeIsGod

    Funny to see how many blind atheists go crazy when one says that they are religious too when this blind atheist has proven it to be.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Did that make sense when you wrote it?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      It sure mad sense. LOL

      June 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Drunk again, Higgy?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Yes I am, you must be too drunk to remember the beer you gave me. LOL

      June 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Bet

      "It sure mad sense. LOL."

      Mad as insane, yes.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  7. HeIsGod

    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son – Why would it even matter if I answer a blind atheists questoin that has to do with God anyway? Would it make a difference if I answered it and will you believe? Of course not!

    June 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you're denying that Jesus spoke those words?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • JustaNormalPerson

      Why should you answer a question that questions your faithfulness to the teachings of Christ? Do you pretend you are not the blind one?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son – I am denying to answer the question of a fool = Atheism.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you confirm that Jesus said you were not to judge, then.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son – I confirm that Christ said not to judge my brothers and sisters....looks like he left the family in Christ.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You think Jesus meant it was okay to judge people if they didn't believe in the same thing you do? Is that what you think? That people who don't agree with you are not your brothers and sisters?

      How do you figure that's what Jesus meant by brothers and sisters-that they're only people who are just like you?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Higgy, so you think JustANormalPerson "left the family in christ"? So it's okay for you to judge him or her?

      Have you asked Jesus about that?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Ecclesiastes 7:17

      If I may...in the Pauline Letters it is recommended that if you see a "brother" who is wrong to correct them. There is a process that is recommended in that correction of course. Also, the way "brother" is used there would probably signify one that is of the church.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • JustaNormalPerson

      HeIsGod, Jesus says do not judge, period. Withoug qualification. You obviously choose not to follow his teachings.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @HelsGod

      Your arrogance is truly astounding.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, HG, it is. It's only surpassed by her complete stupidity.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Tom

      Less and less religious people are actually giving me responses, and I'm not sure why.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Consider yourself lucky.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I think I would rather they actually make an attempt. If not for the persons sake, then the sake of those on the fence, so they can see the inconsistencies and errors in these beliefs.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, Higgy will likely answer you until she passes out for the night. And you certainly will achieve your goal with her responses!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • OTOH

      If only we could put Higgy's stupidity off onto drunkenness, it might be understandable - but no, unfortunately, this is as lucid as she ever gets.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  8. liberty

    More talk to try to convince people there's no reason to believe in God. Whether or not you chose to believe, He exists. It's not that he exists only if you believe, he exists whether you believe or not. sHe is whether or not a pastor believes, or anyone else believes, he exists. And I LOVE him 🙂

    June 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Belief is not a choice; it's a compulsion. Many people simply CAN'T "choose" to believe in a god as stupid as the one in the bible or the koran.

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

      As you say, sHe.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Frank

      You love him? If only you could step outside your bubble and listen to yourself.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Really? Show your proof.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • TheTruth2012

      Liberty,

      You've never seen a Soldier ripped apart by an IED, how could a powerful God allow that to happen? Plus that whole Jesus Christ b.s. is borrowed from the Egyptians, look up Horus and come talk to me.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • TX1980

      Dear Fox News Viewer,

      Just because you say it's a fact doesn't make it so.

      Pass it on...

      June 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • lroy

      I just don't get it. You can leave the ministry and still have faith and believe in God. Perhaps his problem was he was Pentecostal instead of a REAL religion like Catholic or Baptist, or even Methodist.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  9. ReligiousIgnorance

    Just study the human cell all you so called atheist! If after doing that you still believe there is no intelligent design in the universe, then you are willingly ignorant and should wear a helmet for your own safety.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • ME II

      Just because you don't understand it, doesn't mean God-did-it.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why? Just because something complex has evolved?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Manuel

      Compare that cell to other creatures, see the similarities and the complexities grow as the species gets younger and younger. Intelligent design? Bryce canyon was carved out over millions of years. It was once a bed of dirt under water. Its beauty and detail today are remarkable. Still they are not proof of any intelligence, only a highly complex system.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      If there is an engineer behind the human cell, he should be fired. It's a ridiculously convoluted, inefficient 'design' that only something like evolution could bring about. Do yourself a favor and pick up an actual biology book.

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

      To Me II & tom tom, your points are too simplified. My point is that the complexity and harmonious organization that the various systems that exist in 1 single human cell, if anyone is intellectually honest with themselves, will conclude that there is intelligence involved.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, that is not the only conclusion or even the most plausible one.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • ReligiousIgnorance

      That is the point, it's looking more and more like THE most plausible. The deeper the human cell is studied, the more complex it becomes. There MUST be an intelligent designer.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, it isn't. And there "MUST" be? Please. There's no such thing as "MUST be" as of yet. That we don't know how it all occurred or that we marvel at its complexity does not mean goddidit.

      You make proclamations about it all you want, but it's nothing more than your belief that there was some celestial master clockmaker.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • ME II

      @ReligiousIgnorance,
      "your points are too simplified."
      As opposed to your 'look at the cell and believe' argument?

      "My point is that the complexity and harmonious organization that the various systems that exist in 1 single human cell, if anyone is intellectually honest with themselves, will conclude that there is intelligence involved."
      I'm sorry, how exactly are you measuring complexity?
      What are the limits to complexity achievable via a biological recombinant system?
      What exactly are the indicators that something is designed by an intelligence again?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @ReligiousIgnorance –

      Does the "complexity and harmonious organization" to which you refer also apply to, let's say, the cells of aggressive childhood leukemia?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Bet

      I've taken several courses in cell biology. Yes, cells are complex. But cell complexity = god made cells is a ridiculous argument. Just because you don't understand cell biology doesn't mean that god made them.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  10. Evangelical

    I don't understand how anyone could turn their back on God knowing what awaits them. The agony of hell is inconceivable to us because all agony in this life eventually ends, but the agony of hell is for eternity. Is this guy's ego so large that he thinks he can turn away from God without consequences?

    June 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      What rational, caring being with any semblance of justice or mercy WOULDN'T turn their backs on a monster that thought infinite punishment for finite crimes was acceptable?

      Good thing that monster doesn't actually exist.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Evangelical

      God is no monster! What blasphemy! God is a God of justice!

      June 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Eva, are you still beating your children for something they did when they were 2?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Of course, you miss the main point...there is no evidence to suggest that a god exists, and certainly not the god you kneel to.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Frank

      Which god would that be?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Dobro

      What god of justice kills children? What kind of god would let constant atrocities happen? Would it not make more sense for a supposedly almighty god to just create a cool place to live with cool people? Why should there be evil people in the first place if that alleged god is almighty?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • JustaNormalPerson

      Your god is a sadist.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • lroy

      I like it and I'm not even Evangelistic...just Catholic. Prayers are always answered, but sometimes the answer is "not yet". God is in charge and no one beats God. God will decide if and when I get a job, no one else. I will work when the time is right according to God's terms and not before no matter how things get. And we can pray people won't die, but eventually they will. If they lived good lives then we should rejoice for they will be going to a better place and hopefully we will see them again soon.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • TX1980

      Evangelical,

      In 30 yrs you will be on the stupid side of history. Its gonna be hilarious..

      June 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • TX1980

      IROY,

      Tee hee. I mean, c'mon dude.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Akira

      You don't have a clue as to what they've been struggling with in their minds.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Bet

      Evangelina,

      Just come out of the closet already. It'll be okay. You'll feel better and you won't have this compulsion to condemn everyone anymore.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  11. Lsteel

    This isn't a new phenomenon. In C. S. Lewis's "The Great Divorce", many of his characters are clergy who have rejected or intellectualized orthodoxy. This was published in the 1940s. Better for clergy to be honest and get out than to stay and try to reconcile their disbelief with ministry. This does no favors for their congregations.

    What is new is the atheist imitation of whiny Christians who believe they are persecuted. You all need to get out and see some places with REAL persecution. It's not happening here.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • ME II

      Sorry, the atheists or the whiny Christians?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Adrian

      Atheists are not pretending they are as persecuted as bad as people in other places in the world, but because it is much less severe here, does not mean it is suddenly trivial or non-existent. It also varies greatly from one person to another. Some people's families accept them when they "come out", others disown them. Some go on with very little change in their lives, some are shunned or even receive death threats. My deconversion has been relatively painless. However, only my wife, brother, and siblings-in-law know so far out of my family and my wife is the only theist in that bunch.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  12. April

    My husband and I left Christianity 8 months ago. We had leadership roles in the church and were very involved for many years. It was an extremely difficult thing for us to realize what we'd believed our whole lives was not true. It was so hard to walk away from our church family. Since leaving we have lost all of our friends. It is ridiculous the way that people discard you simply because you no longer believe the way that they do. I applaud Jerry for his courage. And I am thankful for The Clergy Project.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • ME II

      Hear! Hear!
      Well said.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Good luck to you guys! For me and my spouse it was a tough go for a while–but I had to follow the logic. I couldn't force myself to keep believing in illogical "answers" that really weren't. It can be a blow to the psyche for those who are/were "more indoctrinated" than most. I'm all in favor of forming your own sense of "spirtuality" based on your most precious values and principles. At least it works well for us.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Humanist11

      You and your husband have lots of integrity. I'm sure you will find many secular friends over the coming years. There are a lot more non-believers than you would guess.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @Hunaist11

      That depends on where you live. If it's the deep south you may want to stay in the closet. I've gotten death threats and have known people who've lost career jobs and had their houses and cars vandalized.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Bet

      April, I did the same thing after over 50 years as a religious person. It gets better, I promise. But I know how much it hurts and how frightening it is. You and your husband will be okay. It takes time.

      I know that sounds cliched, so I'm sorry for that. But it's true, and you'll make new friends who don't judge you by what you believe or don't believe. Congratulations on making a very difficult decision. I wish you peace, health and a long life.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  13. Theresa Kahle

    Yes, many of us true believers are aware the leaders of our flock don't believe. The Bible even talks at length about this problem. We also espouse honesty over fraud. However, we believe that ultimately honesty will lead to God.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Theresa Kahle' is an instance of the No True Scotsmen fallacy.

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

      June 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Manuel

      So why "flock?"

      June 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Scott

      I wondered when this was going to come up. Some food for thought:

      1. No True Scotsman is not found on your link.

      2. You are incorrectly applying No True Scotsman. No True Scotsman says that a Scotsman would never engage in some activitiy by virtue of their being from Scotland. The reason that is fallacious is because ones' national ancestry has little to no bearing on future behavior. "Christian" "True-Believer" etc are merely labels applied to people who believe in and live by the tenents of Christianity. It's like the difference between a noun and a verb – nouns can describe objects and verbs describe actions. It is completely logical to call someone who adheres to eating only vegetables a Vegan; one who calls oneself a Vegan but is seen downing steak every night is hardly following Vegan practices, and it would be ridiculous to call them a Vegan. Words do mean things. The word Christian typically means "To be Christ-like".

      If you don't believe in God that's your own business, but applying the "No True Scotsman" fallacy to something that it doesn't apply to is dishonest.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  14. Willow

    They seriously should leave their jobs and go to work doing something else. If you have to lie to everyone when you do your job, it's not worth the paycheck.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      If everybody did this there would be no more clergy or politicians left.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Howie76

      The retirement packages and living cost are too good. Where else can you get a parsonage to stay in rent and electric free. Then a retirement package. I was Methodist and finally quit after seeing the conferences being nothing but a bunch of pastors arguing about thier retirement benefits and how 3000 and more was not enough. With insurance. Whiners

      June 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • rcryer82

      Isn't that what congress does?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  15. Joe

    This guy must have really belived if he prayed for fame, fortune, wealth and prosperity while secretly not believeing in God, he would be rewarded. Is this cat totally confused or what.

    Now because he did not receive so much from a God he never belived in, he is now trying to preach God doesn't exist, lol

    Wow and I wonder how many people will help fund his cause.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Charles

      Quite a few actually. Logic is a worthy cause.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Lsteel

      Yes–God said "no" to me. He must not exist!

      Lots of people are furious with a god they don't believe in. Hmm

      June 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Lol

      You don't sound like a very well-read person. Hmmmmm.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  16. wisdom4u2

    I wonder what they are going to do when they come face to face with their Creator? 😀

    June 13, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'wisdom4u2' is a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.

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

      June 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Sighko Sis

      Which parent are you referring to? Or are you referring to the universe in general?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      Thinking about you being proved right while others get eternal torture really gets you off doesn't it? What a shallow, vindictive, hateful person you must be.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • JoJo

      I wonder what you're going to do if late in life you realize you wasted your whole life on a particular indoctrinated sectarian illusion?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • lroy

      Probably st in their pants! BE READY!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      I still wonder what they are going to do when they come face to face with their Creator? 😦

      June 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why do you wonder? Why would it matter to you? Why don't you just focus on your own life and stop wondering what kind of underpants everyone else is wearing? It's none of your business.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      I still soooo wonder what they are going to do when they come face to face with their Creator? 🙂 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Bet

      So go ahead and wonder. Spend the rest of your life wondering. Wonder all you want. Wonder in the kitchen. Wonder in the bathroom. Wonder while driving.

      In the meantime, I'll be enjoying my life. I sure as heII won't care that you're wondering.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Ma'at

      wisdom4u2
      "I still soooo wonder what they are going to do when they come face to face with their Creator?"

      I wonder what you are going to do if it turns out to be Ra?

      June 14, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • wisdom4u2

      I can't help but wonder what they are going to say to their Creator when He asked them "Why should I let you in?" I just wonder....... 😀

      June 14, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  17. Luis Daniels

    Sometimes i too believe that religion has been tainted by man....but i still believe. I believe that we dont know all of the answers we seek, and i believe they will come true very shortly. There are a number of things that we cant see, yet we still believe or feel. Such as the wind, some gases, and even love. Just because GOD did not give you a job, or save someone you cared about does not mean he is no there. Sometimes we get clouded, and its selfish to think that GOD is their to alter our own lives for our own personal enjoyment. Everyone goes through troubles, but how we stand up and believe in ourself is the true model of Faith. Something that can never be taken from anyone. Im not here to disbelief or try and push religion on anyone, but there are forces out there such as good and evil. Hell...we even see it while we grow plants...for ex: why when yelling at a plant...it withers and dies? Because hate and Love is an energy we cant see....BUT WE FEEL and believe in! That is the basis of all faith. I believe that the church tells us what we want to hear-especially to control the masses. My ideal is that LOVE is the key to everything...even finding the love in the most horrible situations. Maybe thats the answer to our very question...In the bible it states..."For love is GOD and GOD is love"-maybe thats the whole point. Everyday we see situations on every major news channels filled with hate, because it feels so amazing to invest hatred in human life-but whats so HARD about showing love for one another? That is the true fight against evil. All i know is I rather believe in someone that tells me to find my belief ON MY OWN, than rather have someone tell me why I shouldnt. The choice is ultimatly ours. Thats the whole point! Jeremiah 29:13..." Ye shall seek me, and find me...when you believe in me with all your heart."

    June 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Chris

      Yeah, it's been tainted by man because it's man made. Far fetched I know. So improbable that a book, written long before man used Science to understand things, could be full of embellishment and myths.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  18. Bob

    Bryan Kirchoff, awful comment that you spewed here.

    No thank you for it, and get past your sicko god delusions already.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where is this comment?

      June 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Lol

      Bryan Kirchoff,
      are you God?
      Because I can't see you anywhere............

      June 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  19. the way

    Bryan Kirchoff,
    Wonderful comment.
    Thank you

    June 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  20. Dennis

    Hmmm... Are we going to hear charges of prostelytizing now. Oh wait, they only allege that when people are trying to share Christ. There probably won't be an criticism now. It's okay if you attack Christians.

    June 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Lol

      Hmmm....are you stupid?
      Hmmmm....

      June 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
Advertisement
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.