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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. Susie

    I wonder if C N N wants to do a story on my journey from atheism to deep committed faith in God. Probably not.

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

      I'm assuming it involves a traumatic brain injury?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      No worries Susie.

      Redneck buffoons like DeWitt are probably bringing more people to God than any of us could ever do!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Susie

      Wrong, but that is what happens when you make stu pid assumptions.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Susie

      So true TDS.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      Susie: Stupid assumptions? Like the iron age comic book represents god?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Lux Et Veritas

      It's doubtful. They have a different agenda.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Edwardo

      Probably not Susie. C N N isn't afraid to tackle this beast called religion, that has destroyed so many lives.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Susie

      Do you even read you own comments?..."I'm assuming it involves a traumatic brain injury?" There is a 99% chance that I am smarter than you considering where I fall on the IQ bell curve.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Susie

      Edwardo–God saved my life and the lives of many people I know. I am sorry that you can not see the benefits of religious belief. I did indepth research on the psychological benefits of religious belief fro my dissertation. Religious belief is the single most effective possitve coping mechanism measured in psychological research,

      June 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Susie

      for* and positive*

      June 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Edwardo

      Susie – I don't think you're "stupid" for believing in some sorta god. You're welcome to believe whatever you like. I just attack religion, as it attacks my way of life. When you vote against my rights, I come out swinging.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Susie

      Ed-who attacked who denied your right to be an atheist.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Susie

      Ed - Sorry I meant "Who denied your right to practice as an atheist?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Edwardo

      @Susie – I don't believe in god. Never did. I don't need a crutch. I'm 52 years old, and do quite well, thank ya. Andrea Yates was a believer, ask her children, or all the people burned at stakes, killed in wars, the crusades... the list is endless, about the consequences of religion. I don't think religion enhances one's life at all. There are ways to cope with reality, without making up god stories.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Edwardo

      You vote against my rights to marry my same gender partner.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Susie

      Andrea Yates was mentally ill and both religion and science failed her. Read her case study...the doctors failed to treat her adequately.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Science didn't 'fail her'.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Susie

      Marriage is not a right, it a government sanctioned relationship meant to protect children. I think govt marriage should be eliminated in favor of an automatic contract between people who parent a child. Then people can marry in their church if they like.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Susie – regarding "Religious belief is the single most effective possitve coping mechanism measured in psychological research."

      Do you have a reference to the research that supports that assertion? I would like to review it...honestly.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Edwardo

      Consider all of the people who live in the remote regions of the world who have never even heard the "gospel" of Jesus Christ. Consider the people who have naturally adhered to the religion of their parents and nation as they had been taught to do since birth. If we are to believe the Christians, all of these people will perish in the eternal fire for not believing in Jesus. It does not matter how just, kind, and generous they have been with their fellow humans during their lifetime: if they do not accept the gospel of Jesus, they are condemned. No just God would ever judge a man by his beliefs rather than his actions.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Susie – regarding "I think govt marriage should be eliminated in favor of an automatic contract between people who parent a child."

      I'm almost with you, but not quite. You don't actually believe that our secular government should on sanction unions between thoseindividuals who produce offspring, do you? You sound intelligent...was that just a misstatement or is it, perhaps, something you want to think about a bit more?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Edwardo

      @Susie – oh contrare! Marriage is a right. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). You are mistaken about that.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Susie

      Tom So when Andrea Yates' husband did not push to have her treated adequately it is religion's fault, and when the doctors who know that she needed further treatment, released her from the hospital its not science's fault? See how there is a problem there? Neither religion nor science really failed her but people who did not follow through, failed her.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Really-O?

      "should on sanction", of course, should read "should only sanction".

      June 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You said they both failed her. Make up your mind.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Susie

      Koenig, H. (2001/2002) Religion and medicine II: Religion, mental health and related behaviors. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 31(1), 97-109

      June 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Susie

      Tom please read my posts more carefully.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Edwardo

      I wouldn't worship the Xtian god, even if he presented himself to me. He has a past of crimes against humanity. He drowned babies in great floods, he destroyed innocents at Sodom and Gomorrah (yes, there were babies in those cities), he killed the first born son (when there wasn't blood on the door step). I don't trust him, and with a darned good reason!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Susie

      Edwardo...I am glad you know what God would do...I will go by what He said.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Susie, you said: "Andrea Yates was mentally ill and both religion and science failed her. Read her case study...the doctors failed to treat her adequately."

      I suggest YOU read your posts more carefully.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Susie

      As for an automatic contract between parents, I was not referring to a marriage contract, but a contract delineating the parental responsibilities of each person. The govt. really has no business sanctioning a contract between two adults.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Susie – "The govt. really has no business sanctioning a contract between two adults."

      Agreed. The government also has no business prohibiting a contractual union between adults...right?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  2. The Dog Delusion

    Atheists now know what Christians feel like when some ignorant, uneducated hick sets the cause by a few decades.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  3. Alfred

    Has CNN ever posted an article that was pro-Christianity? Every single post by CNN seeks to spread doubt, challenge traditional beliefs, and misrepresent Scripture and the nature and character of God. So if God doesn't exist, CNN, why spend so much time challenging Him?

    June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      Psst....here's a secret. this one is actually pro-Christianity. this backwoods Dewitt redneck will do more to turn people away from atheism than any pro-Christianity article could ever do.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  4. Amistavia

    Lux Et Veritas
    "Get with the program. That's OT."

    Your god is unchanging. If he existed, he was a sadistic butcher then, and remains one today. BTW, do you think it mattered much to the Amalakites that the slaughter of their infants is recorded in the old testement, rather than the new one?

    June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Lux Et Veritas

      yep, there's no denying God's wrath at certain points in the Bible. But that said, maybe you should be more concerned with the wrath perpetrated on you by the forces which dwell in the darkness, and less of the wrath perpetrated by God eons ago.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  5. pistoff2

    CNN appears to love any anti-christ story. Any thing that leads away from the Bible. But here is a fact about those who support anti-christ notions. The love of God is not in you and never was. You are rabble, the fringes of the crowd of those who know Jesus and have His Holy Spirit dwelling in them. There are followers of most groups, and most of those followers are in it for what benefits them. Jesus said that the Shephard knows His sheep, and that they hear His voice. They are those who receive His Word and keep it. He said the Kingdom of God is near you, but you did not receive it. This minister you are writing about, never knew Jesus, if he and others like him had, they would grieve like Peter did for denying Him.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Deborah

      Amen! I couldn't agree with you more.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Edwardo

      You said "The love of God is not in you and never was." But doesn't god love everyone? He is omipotent, omniscient. That means he is everywhere, at all times. Which means he was "in me". It's nonsense anyway. There are no gods.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  6. GAW

    One can find stories of defectors from any ideology whether it be religious or political. What these do to disprove the ideology one left is beyond me. A story that details an atheist's journey to Christianity may also do little to prove Christianity as well.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  7. MuyGuapo

    Belief in God has never been a faith issue. It has always been a moral issue. As an atheist, you can commit adultery, cheat, steal, lie if you like. It is not right or wrong. No God? Then we are not moral agents. Absolutely anything goes. A true atheist won't deny this either.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • cr0sh

      So, you're saying without the fear of God holding you back, you would do all of those things? Remind me to keep the knives, rope, explosives, etc away from you at all time. In fact – don't come near me.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      atheists do have a moral compass. it is just based on iron age mythology

      June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      errr....it is NOT based on iron age mythology

      June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Can you show any evidence that atheists are less "moral" or ethical than believers? Please do so.

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

      I'm a true atheist. I hold down a good job, always have. I raise 2 kids. I own my own home. I don't cheat in my relationship. Looks like you're a liar!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Cynthia

      That is absolutely not true. Just because you are an atheist does not mean that you have no compassion or sense of right and wrong. You just don't base your ideas of right or wrong on what is written in someone's "holy" book. You don't have to be religious to know that hurting other people is wrong.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • ProudAtheist

      "Stealing, cheating, lying, adultery, domestic violence are okay?" Sounds like you are talking about Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Creflo Dollar Jr and it must be ok for christians since they all done what you mentioned as have so many other religious figures throughout history.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So, MuyStupido, where's your answer?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Bet

      It really drives the religious nut jobs crazy that a person can act with respect and compassion towards their fellow humans without the threat of punishment or heIIfire hanging over them.

      I've never liked being micromanaged on the job, and I like it even less in my personal life. I don't need a boogie man standing over me to understand that lying, stealing or cheating on my spouse are not things that I want to do.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • tallulah13

      @MuyGuapo

      If you need supernatural threats to be a good person, then you aren't really a good person.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  8. J Ngor

    I was glad to read this; I know it's a matter of time and alot of people will soon give up religion. This is what religion produces. I'm a Christian! I don't follow a religion! I used to follow religion. But i got delivered by Jesus Christ.
    Jesus' message wasn't to bring us into religion. In fact, if you really study the Bible, he came to set us free from Religion. He declared "come to me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest" Matt 11:28.
    Jesus was calling us out of the bondage of religion. Religion puts shackles on people. Christianity as is preached today, is completely out of sync from Jesus' message.
    http://akotkir.blogspot.com/2011/12/forbidden-fruit.html

    June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  9. Born Again

    1. The Bible is the word of God penned by man,inspired by God.God's word will never change by man and cultures do change. Faith is not something you get on your own it is by Gods grace, so it can be nothing that you do God gets all the Glory so that no man can boast.Faith is going all the way to Christ with admission to sin,reallizing that every conscious was Gods law written in every mans heart. God will inpute his righteousness to all that call upon him, once you receive his free gift you are no longer living in darkness you are a part of his redeeming light,it is trully amazing how clearly truth can be seen.God will then toss away all past and future sin as far away as the east is from the west and bury them in the depts of the sea. Because is mercy is perfect and his love is abundant.being a former Protestant like you once were I never could experience any joy because I thought I couls lose my salvation.Beleive me if you could lose your salvation you would lose it every day. God tells us in the bible that once you trully repent all of heaven celebrates and That God will prepare a place for you in heaven, No where does he say I prepare a place for you just in case! When Jesus died on the cross his last words were it is finished. If you could at any time lose your salvation then Christ died for nothing.It is not by any works or any thing that you do it is all about Christ he gets all the Glory. There are over 400 verses in Scripture that talk about eternal punishment where the pain is eternal and where the worm never dies. This is God perfection in his Justice.Every man is a sinner and falls short of his glory but you must except his free gift of salvation because with out a savior you will die apart from God, and condemned for eternity. In Revalation chapter 22 Scripture tells us when you die you will die in that condition.When you talk abot the failure of prayor a.) where you ever saved? Did you pray earnestly and in Jesus name? Were your thoughts of yourself or by Gods will? Where you in good grace with God or struggling with unadmonished sin?You speak of suffering of your Church,God tells us in Scripture that God will purge his Church first. To live by faith we eagerly place all our trust and faith in God,sometimes we have to be patient in our trust and ramp up the prayor, I couls give you dozen if not hundreds of my own personal experience with my many years of being a Christian. Also God will place in the lives of true believers many obstacles<God calls them trials. These are nessessary to help build you and perfect you and bring glory to God.Your comment in regards to your love of preaching.Is your love for preaching centered arround those in your congregation? Yourself? Or to bring glory to God? I am no one to Judge anyone but to be going in the direction that you are going I question whether you were ever trully saved in the first place. I really hope with all my heart that you pray long and hard and ask God for his guidence.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      zzzZZZZzzzz
      zzzZZZZzzzz

      Huh? Oh you're done? How about proving your assertions, then we'll talk about how immoral your particular god is.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      Born Again: Lots of purty words ya got there. No proof, but purty words

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

      Using the scriptures to prove the bible is true, is like using Casper to prove ghosts are real. You're blabbering comes with zero proof of anything. Pray for amputees... see how well that goes!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      I couldn't have said better myself....AAAAAAAMEN!!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @HelsGod

      My same call goes to you. Prove your god exists, then we can talk about his immoral and self contradictory characteristics.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • OTOH

      HeIsGod
      "I couldn't have said better myself."

      Well, you are correct there, kid. You write (and think) very poorly.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  10. HeIsGod

    So now he decided to serve his master, Satan, by preaching the evil cult religion Atheism. How is his religion better then any other when all are doom and evil?

    June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • cr0sh

      Ahem – excuse me – but Satan doesn't exist either, cupcake.

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

      cr0sh – Uhmmm....satan denies he isn't real so you can believe that he isn't real. Looks like you are decieved as well.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      HeIsGod: Oooh...Satan.....pretty scary.....for those who believe in it

      June 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      LOL, sam stone, who said anything about fearing Satan? He isn't a threat to us, on the contrary, we are a threat to him because of people like you who are coming to Christ.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      HeIsGod: You are no threat to a fictional character. In fact, belief in this character is what keeps it alive.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Higgyneedsabrain

      Higgy, Higgy, Higgy...Go to night school already. Your IQ, along with your grammar, is mind-boggling.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Higgy says:cr0sh – Uhmmm....satan denies he isn't real so you can believe that he isn't real. Looks like you are decieved as well.

      Satan denies he isn't real?

      Do you even understand what you write?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • ProudAtheist

      "satan denies he isn't real so you can believe that he isn't real. Looks like you are decieved as well." Wait a minute ... that is exactly what Satan would say ...

      June 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  11. The Dog Delusion

    Just listened to this blathering idiot speak on youtube. Atheists, you can have him.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • pockets

      Your a ignorant fool. Its difficult to be albe to comphrend your idiotic notions of a supreme being.....get a life.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  12. MuyGuapo

    I would love to see CNN do a report about atheists coming to faith in God. Oh wait a second, that wouldn't be too popular with CNN's audience.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Good luck finding one.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      LMBO!!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      They are actually hurting the atheist cause by promoting this uneducated hick.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • ProudAtheist

      There are some that probably do ... but then they are most likely addicts who need a new drug, want to forget reality and want to not take responsibility for their problems. religion is the most deadly drug in the world ... kills more people every day than all the other drugs combined. Say no to drugs ... say no to religion!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  13. Lux Et Veritas

    Amistavia

    Your diety is the only thing I recall that commanded genocide. Get back to me when you get a clue.

    ***
    Get with the program. That's OT.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  14. A Happy Atheist

    I'm so happy to see these organizations getting the press they deserve. Jerry and Theresa are examples of very brave people doing very important work. Great article, thanks CNN!

    June 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  15. Greg

    This report confirms my belief that most of these so called "Preachers" like this guy are only in it for one thing; the money. They didn't want to get a real job, so preaching, whether to believers or non believers, pays the bills without ever having to work.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Lux Et Veritas

      According to the article, he doesn't get paid. And his house is going into foreclosure. Ok, I'm going to be an armchair Monday morning quarterback and put in my 2 cents worth ~ for what it's worth. I will give this scenario ~ I would say, he took on such a burden on himself when he was pastor, and probably prayed for people to get jobs and not lose their homes. Given the economy, I'd say Jesus himself would have trouble surmounting that one. When he didn't get the answers he wanted and felt needed from God, he became very disillusioned. Probably just so stressful all the way around. What he forgets is that the overall picture is God's hand moving through events, and we don't control what happens and for what reasons. That's in God's domain. Not our's. God answers according to his own time and his own will and to His own purpose. Not our's. With that said, that's a scenario. I am not saying it's what happened. Because I don't really know what happened ~ I'm only going based on what I read.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  16. Lux Et Veritas

    Amistavia

    Satan's body count in the bible is nothing compared to your evil "god". Maybe you're on the wrong side?

    ****
    When you understand what Satan represents and all the havoc he has wreaked on earth, please get back to me. The body count God has, less the souls which will ascend to Him (and understand my meaning here, if you can interpret it), will be far more than the souls which will descend to the Prince of Darkness. Those will be the only body counts, correction, spirit counts, which will matter when all is said and done. And remember, you read it here first.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Your diety is the only thing I recall that commanded genocide. Get back to me when you get a clue.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  17. Simple Question

    I'd like to throw this out there to atheists...Im christian, if my beliefs are wrong and there is no God, heaven or Hell what happens to me and other Christians after we die? Nothing, we just die and thats the end of it. Now heres the kicker for you to think about...What if all you atheists are wrong and Christians are right, WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU ATHEISTS AFTER YOU DIE?!

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

      And what if there is a god, but he's not your god? Then you're screwed.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Pascals Wager how fun. Well what happens if the Hindus are correct, or what happens to you if the Norse religions were correct. The Greeks, Romans, Celts, and all the others. The choice isn't Christianity or atheism, even though you might really want it to be.

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

      Pacals Wager...not that you have a clue or will even look it up. What if the Jews are correct? See..there's more than one choice out there?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Frank

      Is it arrogance or you Christians are just plain ignorant? Why do you think it's either Christianity or atheism? Jews or Muslims don't believe in your baby Jesus.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Amen!!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Michael R

      Ahhh I'm convinced! I should believe *just in case!!* I'm not sure you understand what "believing really means" if you think someone can be convinced something is true via threat.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Amistavia – But how would you know if there are other Gods when you don't believe in one?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Why_Bother

      If we do nothing wrong in life and simply don't believe we would likely end up in the same place. It's not like athiests don't live righteous giving lives. My thought on the first part is I didn't waste countless hours and slept in happily on Sunday instead of joining a flock of people I have very little in common with.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Michael R

      Frank: Muslims absolutely believe in Jesus. He's one of their Saints, "for Christ's sake." They also believe in the Bible where it doesn't conflict with the Koran. It always amazes me when people don't realize this.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • ME II

      @Simple Question,
      Does your God really want you 'playing the odds' on the afterlife? That hardly seems faithful. Are you sure you'll make it to heaven with that kind of "faith"?

      Just askin' a simple question.

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

      Michael R – Your ignorance is showing. We do not believe, just in case as God can't be lied to or mocked.

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

      I don't worry too much about the afterlife but worry more about how I live my life here. That I have control over, the other I don't. If God is truly honest and caring I have nothing to worry about however if the Christians are right and Hitler is in heaven and Ghandi is in hell, well then I think I would prefer hell.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • across12

      That's exactly what I was thinking of too Amistavia. What if there is a God, but have nothing to do with Christianity. You are screwed far worse than the atheists. Your only ticket is God to be Christian, slim chances though.

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

      @across12

      I would say that based on the characteristics given to the christian god, it is impossible since the characteristics are self contradictory.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • ProudAtheist

      Simple, our lives end. No heaven or hell, no being judged on what we did or not do in our lives. That is why I live my life to the best I can, enjoy it, helping those I wish to help (regardless of faith or disease) and I am happy with my life. I don't fear that something I say or do will be used against me after I die unlike your clan.

      The simple question that can never be answered by christians is what proof do you have that heaven or hell exists? You can't rely upon a book written by men which were still alive when they wrote it. The "word of god" isn't proof either because you can't prove that a god like being existed or exists as much as the Greeks or Romans can prove that their gods exists and we also have books about them and their actions. If you claim the bible as proof then the Greek and Roman gods are also real.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  18. Kathleen

    This is exactly what the Bible teaches of the "end times", in that many will fall away from the faith. The Bible did not say that things would get easier, but just the opposite. Having faith means "even in hard times" we must remain faithful until the end. As a Christian, I know I will be mocked and ridiculed for my beliefs as I know this is the persecution that will escalate in the end times. Man does not have the answer to all that's going on in this world today. This should also be a strong testament to what Christ described as the "birth pangs" of the generation living in the end times before His return. I am not at all surprised by this article, as it is what is to be expected. I'm standing firm and won't be caught off guard at what's to come. Stay strong and hold on to your faith. The storm is just on the horizon.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I'll say once again, people have been predicting end times since the beginning times. Why should anyone take your bald assertions seriously at all? It's not like you have any evidence to back yourself up.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Susie

      I agree, I dont know when Christ will return, but I know he will.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, the "end times"....how long they been coming?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • across12

      Katheelen, I was thinking just like you....at 15. I think I matured since then.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  19. MuyGuapo

    I found nowadays that it is actually the atheists who are intolerant and offensive and the ones who have the harshest words about what others believe. But that is okay because if God does not exist then we are not moral agents. We can say and do what we want.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Amistavia

      At least atheists don't burn people at the stake.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • sam stone

      MuyGuapo: You truly are an imbecile

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

      "intolerant and offensive and the ones who have the harshest words about what others believe" A church in Indiana must be calling you because of their intolerance. You attack Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, and any other religion that doesn’t follow your book. Your god, if the bible is true, killed a million Ethiopians because he was asked to do it. Your clan wants the government to not tell you about using birth control because of your religion yet you want the government to deny a person from being married because it’s against your religion. Hypocrites!! Your clan is depriving counties, states, cities needed money because you don’t pay property taxes because of your religion. Your religion turned their backs during the initial AIDS epidemic because your clan believed it was your god punishing people. Intolerance and offensive … must be the 11th and 12th commandments because so many christians are exactly that!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  20. gunnde

    So, why is this story on a religion blog if it's about atheism, agnostics, and such? They still must be searching for that elusive Something.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Exactly 🙂

      June 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      Don't you know that atheist are not that popular and want their 5 minute fame so they can post like crazy just as they do with any other religion articles?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So why are you here, Higgy?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I'm still searching for that elusive secular nation that the Founding Fathers tried to create. Sadly, christians keep trying to impose their personal and arbitrary rules on the legal system that covers people of all faiths (or lack of faith) in this country.

      When christians keep to themselves, there won't be anything to discuss. Sadly, christians erroneously think that they have a special right to tell everyone else how to live. Thus, those of us who do not share their beliefs feel the need to speak out in defense of our own freedom. As long as the First Amendment stands, we have that right.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:13 am |
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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.