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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. Brain Scans and Religiosity

    'God Spot'. Investigate it and then draw your own conclusions.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  2. Atheists get out

    Get the hell out of my country you atheists! You should all be put on an island and God could send a tidal wave and wipe you all out.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • OOO

      And you have a good day too!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Bob

      AGO, Your nasty bible claims he's done it for millions of other innocents, so that would be par for the course.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Humanist11

      Now you are acting like your god. If you don't like something just kill them all in a mighty flood.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Dan

      Let me guess. Christian?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      LOL....easy there, we need then around, how else can our enemies cause us to be blessed? We need them around so God can bless us the more before their very eyes.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • RadarTheKat

      Why the need to remove us to an island? Couldn't your god just send a wave that would wipe us non believers away while washing harmlessly over his fans? You see, if you're going to dream big, big enough to imagine an all powerful overlord, you should really go all the way. He's your god. You created him, so at least give him some decent superpowers!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • CREFLO DOLLAR

      Amen Brother! You hold 'em and I'll beat the hell out of 'em with my shoe and choke em! In Jesus name!!!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Free in Ohio

      Your country? If we were born here it's OUR country. You seem narrow minded, you're probably a racist too. Why don't you try reading some science books and educating yourself?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tim Matter

      All I ask is for you to pray about it. You think pray er works. I think it doesn't. We should both be satisfied with your results.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Higgy, you're demented.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Dana

      That's a pretty mean god you have there. No wonder you are living your life in fear.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • vulpecula

      blow me. haha

      June 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Dana

      Do you live in Alabama? Did you finish high school? You are a great example of how evil religion can be.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Tim Matter

      "Get the hell out of my country you atheists!" I'll bet I was here first and was Christian for longer than you. Don't be afraid to investigate your religions claims. I did.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • vulpecula

      actually, I think your religion has it worked out like this. one day, all you god fearing people will get pluched up into heaven for the bug god ass kissing eternity and use "sinners" get to stay here on earth. I put "sinners" in quotes because atheists aren't loaded with all that original sin that causing us to beleave people are all inherently bad.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • No Worries

      I understand your frustration, but you won't be able to lead people to Christ by being angry at them. It may make you feel better in the short term, but in the long run, that doesn't really work. And the bottom line is, it's not really about us, but about Christ.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Bet

      Mighty christian of you, bubba. Go put on your white hood and burn a cross in someone's front yard.

      "Your" country? Laughable.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  3. Chad

    Mr. DeWitt:
    Did you stop believing that God exists because of the presence of evil and your perception of unanswered prayer.
    or
    Were you angry at what God had done(in allowing evil), or not done(in not answering prayer), and so decided to reject God.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Question from 'Chad' presents a forced False Dichotomy to the potential responder and is also an instance of the Begging The Question falllacy.

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

      June 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Humanist11

      Go to his website and read his answer for yourself. He has answered all of your questions there. Use google.

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

      Probably he just became weary of whispering into his hands, which is exactly, and entirely, what prayer represents. Nothing more. Sorry.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Chad

      So, reading here and there in interviews,
      DeWitt’s transition from true believer to total skeptic took 25 years. It began, he said, with the idea of hell. How could it be, as he had been taught and preached, that a loving God would damn most people to eternal fire? “This thing called hell, it began to rock my world,” he said.

      From there he read about universalism — the idea, scorned by most fundamentalist Christians, that salvation is universal, and all people will be restored in their relationship with God without any action on their own part. After universalism, he discovered the idea, supported by some neuroscientists, that God is actually our inner dialogue.

      “I went from God loves everybody to God saves everybody to God is in everybody,” he said. “When you come from where I come from ... it’s not too long before you are” at the American Atheists convention.
      His new beliefs — kept secret from friends, family and his congregation — were put to the test when a friend in crisis asked him to pray with her.
      “I could not do it,” he said, as the hall grew quiet. “At that moment my conscience outweighed everything else in my life. ... No matter how much I loved her, I knew the best hope for her situation was a good medical staff and I wasn’t going to pretend there was anything better for her than science and reason.”

      but, here's the thing I just can't understand, this guy never read the bible? The reason for the presence of evil is clearly laid out therein.
      What does he think God is? a prayer vending machine? put an hour in every Sunday and get anything you ask for?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Moi

      Considering that his ex-god always sent the worst storms on his strongest believers no one should be surprised of his change of heart.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  4. Dan

    People came up with religion to control the masses thousands of years ago and because they wanted to explain things that they couldn't understand. It is incredible that people still believe this nonsense. Don't be part of the flock. Use your head for reason.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  5. Guy

    Couple of points. For one thing, it seems we're talking about a national message board with, what, 270 members? Nationally? And this is presented by CNN as some sort of movement? Second, Atheism is as much a faith as any other, it's simply not honest about that. It positively asserts the absence of a creator with no evidence that there is no creator. Atheism takes it on faith that there is no God, with less evidence than any religion has to positively assert the existence of a God.

    Just sayin'...

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

      Question why you keep on reciting these falsehoods. Dogma has you firmly.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • OOO

      Guy,
      You are wrong.
      We posit that there is about as much chance that god is real as there is that the tooth fairy is real.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Gawd

      Your logic is flawed. The burden of proof is upon you not atheists. Your only proof is "you have to have faith".

      June 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What IS it with you bozos who think that stating that atheism is a religion makes it so? And why does it bother you so much?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Humanist11

      Religion is what makes extraordinary claims so they must supply the extraordinary evidence. Science could never get away with making claims without evidence.

      Atheist is not a religion. It is someone who does not believe in a god of any kind. There is no scripture, no pastors and no dogma. Saying it is a religion is like saying bald is a hair color or not collecting stamps is a hobby. Try another argument.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Dan

      The absence of a religion is not a religion. What don't you get?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • KRHODES

      OOO

      Guy,
      You are wrong.
      We posit that there is about as much chance that god is real as there is that the tooth fairy is real.

      So you admit there is a chance?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Jim Christenson

      Actually, I think it is a good idea that guys like DeWitt came out with their atheism and left the Church. I think that throughout the history of the church there have been people who were in it for money or power or both, and not because they actually believed in Christ.

      And thats a key reason the church has had problems.

      I believe they are being let to expose themselves and come out in preparation for a great crises that will come on the churchy.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Point 1) Let's say that I were an astro-physicist and I held a press conference and said, "I just discovered that the universe was created by a purple unicorn with 3 testicles." You would probably want me to have some evidence of that right? Point 2) Let's say I'm not an astro-physicist and I don't think that the universe was created by a purple unicorn with 3 testicles. I'm not making a statement about reality, so I have nothing to prove. Christianity is Point #1 and Atheism is Point #2 – see the difference?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • OOO

      KRHODES,
      Yep, as I said – about the same as the tooth fairy. How much of a chance do you think that is?

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

      Atheism a lack in the belief in the supernatural because there is no evidence to support it. This would include your god and any gods as well as demons, devils, ghosts, unicorns, etc. Show me some real convincing evidence and I'll believe. But all any christian can say is you have to have that blind faith. And even if I did believe, the question then becomes is this god worthy of being worshopped? Atheism is not a religion.

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

      Gawd

      Your logic is flawed. The burden of proof is upon you not atheists. Your only proof is "you have to have faith".

      Actually..if you claim there is not enough evidence to prove God exist, then the burden of proof would be on you to determine what that "proof" might be.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by HappyMadison is very funny and well said.

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

      OOO

      KRHODES,
      Yep, as I said – about the same as the tooth fairy. How much of a chance do you think that is?

      Since the "tooth fairy" would be a contingent being if it existed we would surely have some evidence to prove whether it existed or not.

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

      KRHODES
      You have got to be kidding, right?
      You postulate a god. Then you state that you don't have to show any evidence for it, it is us that have to first define what that evidence would be and then prove that there is no evidence!
      Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

      OOO

      KRHODES
      You have got to be kidding, right?
      You postulate a god. Then you state that you don't have to show any evidence for it, it is us that have to first define what that evidence would be and then prove that there is no evidence!
      Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      So then you are saying without any doubt that God does not exist?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • OOO

      KRHODES,
      Didn't I already answer that?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Dana

      KRHODES, I am saying that.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • RadarTheKat

      HappyMadison nailed it. Perfectly stated.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Gawd

      KRHODES, until you come up with some evidence, there is no god. I'll be waiting.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • OOO

      KRHODES,
      Maybe we can talk later. Your posts are getting a little weird.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • KRHODES

      OOO

      KRHODES,
      Didn't I already answer that?

      Well then you would be claiming an absolute negative....so unless you are omniscient....WECOME TO FAITH!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  6. HeIsGod

    So he lead many to Christ and now he wants to lead many to Satan....poor thing.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Sheep

      baa

      June 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Answer

      Keep thinking along this route.. you will reach what the person in the article has reached.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Answer

      Question about satan... keep going.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      God Damn (blasphemy fully intended) you are stupid. Let's just grant, for the sake of argument, that your god exists and the bible is true and accurate (both of which have no evidence). Why would that asshat of a diety be worthy of worship?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Dan

      Poor you for having that false hope.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • shastadaisy

      Such humility!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • vulpecula

      atheists don't beleave in such things as your satan any more than they beleave in your gods. If your going to comment about atheists, at least understand the basics of what we are.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Moi

      Satan doesn't exist

      June 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Wisdom and Seeing the Road Ahead

      He will have more of a spiritual crisis should he decide to come back to God, because in the long run, that well may occur. Well, that is, if he were really a believer to begin with ~ but honestly, I can't judge his heart on that one. Then he will have to reflect on the enormity of the situation and gather people around to support him and his family.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • RadarTheKat

      Why are you having trouble judging the mass of muscle in his chest? I guess you're not well practiced in the judging of internal organs. That must be it.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  7. HeIsGod

    The reason the article is in the religious blog is to prove the blind atheists that they are religious too.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And how does it do that, Higgy?

      Is it the same way that 'satan denies he isn't real' as you earlier stated?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Answer

      Defend harder.

      You'll need every last bit of faith to stop the storm of facts.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @HeIsGod – Careful! You're gonna blow us all up with that sense-making machine you got there!

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

      Laughing at the thought of Higgy's 'sense making machine.'

      June 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Dan

      Higgy, you are the one that needs to prove the outrageous stories in the bible.

      You really need a sense-making machine.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Higgyneedsabrain

      Higgy's sense making machine? LMFAO! Best statement ever!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  8. Dana

    It would be a beautiful world if everyone stopped believing in this nonsense.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • RadarTheKat

      At the risk of being ironic, I'll say "Amen, brother!"

      I wonder how many who read this article caught the incongruity of the phrase "a freak of religious nature".

      June 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  9. Question

    Ezekiel 4:1-15

    No idea why folks thought keeping this passage in the bible was a good idea. If you mass produce, market, and give away something for free, why include that passage? I dunno if I can believe in something that is so Swiss Cheese that it can't even be phenomenally updated for the masses.

    Perhaps Youtubing "Cooking with Yahweh" would help me answer that question..

    June 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  10. Patrick

    does the question of whether or not hell really exists or who's going there really have to lead to the logical conclusion of atheism? that's like saying i don't understand god, therefore he doesn't exist. clearly this is what traumatized him the most. how about a focus on the good instead of the bad?

    I'd get sick in the head if i worried up all night wondering what god is doing or where people are going. live your life man

    June 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Chad

      Agreed.

      I wonder if:
      1. He stopped believing that God exists because of the presence of evil and his perception of unanswered prayer.
      or
      2. He was angry at what God had done(in allowing evil), or not done(in not answering prayer), so he decided to reject God.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Patrick

      exactly i get curious about the same thing.

      it makes me sad that on both sides of the fence that people are willing to blindly accept or reject entire ideas based on the fact that they cannot %100 control, interact with, or understand the forces at play

      June 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • RadarTheKat

      Ya know, we who are scientifically minded might actually be able to you religious types with this question. You see, we have this little maxim that states that The simplest answer is likely to be true.

      I'm thinking the man simply came to his senses.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  11. peter

    The mighty ocean dances with the moon

    June 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  12. Don

    good for him. brave man

    June 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  13. Ted Ward

    "Reason" is just another faith, except that you can interpret it any way that fits your own (mistaken) assumptions.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Paper Bag

      Come back after you study the scientific method. Then we'll talk.

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

      @Ted

      Wow. Now that was a whole lot of fail for you sir.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Dana

      "You have to have faith" is the only proof that you have.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Patrick

      how can the scientific method apply to something that in theory would exist outside of the rules of space and time? see: devil's advocate

      June 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Paper Bag

      Patrick,
      It does because you people made this "out of the rhelm of space and time" sh.t up! And you do that because you've been backed into a corner such that this is your last possible argument.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Patrick

      first off chill out.

      secondly, look up string theory then which defines mathematically the necessity for things to exist outside of the realm of our universe that effect us every day and we cannot measure them, not saying that this is god or a creator by any means, simply saying that ur current argument is calling for everything to be subject to the cause and effect rules of the scientific method within the realm of our physical laws. sorry...stuff exists outside of our universe that you can neither measure, visit, or ever understand, your inability to literally think "outside" the box makes you just as close minded as the very people you don't like.

      thirdly, you have no idea what me beliefs are or are not. its called a debate so plz dont refer to me as "you people"

      June 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Patrick

      my*

      June 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • shastadaisy

      A mind and reason are terrible things to waste; wouldn't your god agree? My god-given brain tells me that I am not smart enough to know the answers to the big mysteries. Whatever makes you want to be a decent person is a good way to go. Religion never insured that. On the contrary, It is pretty dependable at producing poison in the world. I do have a religious affiliation–one that leaves me and my reason to myself.

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

      agreed
      but ANY idea that subjects the masses to the laws and demands of the few in an attempt to spread power and influence rarely produces favorable results. in the end the idea being fought over is merely the vehicle and not the cause. religion doesn't fund wars and movements. human beings with disposable wealth and an agenda to be pushed do.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  14. Dan

    Remove brain. Insert dogma.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  15. RAMBLE3144

    Curiously, Progressives agenda includes atheism, gayity, etc., etc. Here's where CNN comes in.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      OOooo give us more talking points! It's fun to laugh at them.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      Did you really just say "gayity"? When did they get WiFi in Mississippi?

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

      *snerk*

      June 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Bet

      "Gayity"

      Hahahaha!

      June 14, 2012 at 1:22 am |
  16. Misleading

    Very misleading, the article led me to believe there were pastors preaching crhristianity that were atheists. When in actuality its about a preacher who lost his faith. big deal. There are more soulless in the world than you would believe. It would not surprise me that many church leaders dont possess souls, it is not a gift given lightly to any and all babies. Where do people think atheists come from? Trees? To spout atheism is to not feel the connection to the creator through your soul.

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

      You are a fool. Go back to church and give 10% of your income to the child molesters.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Dan

      People are born atheists. The weak-minded ones become religious after many years of brain-washing.

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

      So god decides whether or not to give you a soul when you are an innocent baby?
      I believe you makin this sh.t up mista!

      June 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Brad

      How does an atheist tout 'critical thinking' and then proclaim that Christians aren't worthy to have a conversation with you because they lack 'evidence' - it is the weakest argument for atheists to pretend that Christians aimlessly believe a fictional book called the Bible. The evidence, where confirmed, fully supports an historically accurate biblical text. The Big Bang theory and evolution cannot claim evidence either. Evidence, as a term, is definitive. These scientific theories might meet the standards of scientific proof in some ways, but there is no clear consensus among scientists. Most (not all) agree in principle in the Big Bang and evolution, but they also admit they have little understanding of the dynamics. So these theories will continue to evolve on their own. If you place your trust in science then you say this is because of the great knowledge we are continuing to gain. If you place your trust in a Creator, then you say this evolution in thought is because scientists are chasing a false theory. Intelligent people exist on both sides of the conversation, so please humble yourself and be willing to have the dialogue. Idiotic people also exist on both sides, and those are the ones that aren't willing to listen to the conversation for fear they might be wrong. Which one are you?

      June 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      @Brad – You seem to be saying that there is just as much truth in religion as there is in science. Well, why did you turn to science in order to post your comment to this forum? Why didn't you pray your post here? Surely they would both have had the same effect – maybe your faith isn't strong enough.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Nathan Norley

      To be Atheist, by definition, is to believe with certainty that there is no god. We use the word or concept of god to define rigidly or loosely whatever "it" might be for us. Unfortunately no one can provide reviewable, agreed upon evidence of what that is or non-existence of what that is. People genuinely feel that they can know the truth about god(or no god) through their personal experience in life/upbringing. I must say that maybe they can, I don't think they can, but I don't know enough to say for certain they can't, so maybe they can. I have my own leanings, but no certainty. I also am quick to discredit my leanings because I'm aware of my limited understanding. I have to embrace uncertainty because I can't genuinely claim any certainty about god, so I'm Agnostic.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  17. RHSimard

    Not relevant to the subject but relevant to the article: Would journalists please look up the difference between "disinterested" and "uninterested?" They are different things, and "disinterested" above is the wrong one of the two.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  18. vulpecula

    Being an Atheist is actually very liberating. No more Adam and Eve story sticking original sin on you. Without original sin, then you don't need redemption. Once you get over the idea that your not going to live forever, you start to value what time you have on this earth and with the people that truly love you. Go more begging and pleading to some imaginary deity for your wants. No fear of a ever lasting hell, or an ever lasting ass kissing fest for your god. And the material rewards of a heaven, pearly gates and streets of gold never really appealed to me anyway. Yes, I rather injoy the structure yet flexability of being a critical thinking atheist.

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

      You dont need atheism to free you of that burden, you just need to shake christianity. All your arguement is about christianity as if that is the creators religion. religion is an invention of man, the soul is a creation of the creator.

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

      @Misleading

      There isn't a creator. there isn't a soul in the spirit sense your speaking of either. Your addressing a hard core atheist. Without evidence, you have no argument. Now go watch your ghost hunter TV shows.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Misleading

      Hard core atheist to me means you are like the other 80pct who dont have souls. not sure how that can be hard core, just regular soulless. I guess you are saying you DEFINITELY dont have a soul. ok,

      June 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • vulpecula

      @Misleading

      Your not following your script from the bible when you say some people don't have souls. Of course, being an atheist, I can say I don't beleave anyone has a soul. When you die, that's it. You aren't much different than road kill.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  19. Evangelical

    People of faith fret not. The words and actions of the atheists are predicted by scripture. It just means that the time is nigh. Soon the Lord will come and the evil ones will be cast into the lake of fire.

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

      Evil ones? You mean the people that God created? You mean the people who are part of Gods plan? The perfect, benevolent God that knows everything about the past, present, and future – including the decisions that all those people would make? And he made them knowing full well that he would send them to Hell for eternity? That's some God you got there.

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

      The disciples though jesus would return in there lifetime. Didn't happen. Every generation for the last 2000+ years has though they would see jesus in their lifetime. Hasn't happened. You need to start asking yourelf some hard question. And you can try yor fear mongoring all day long, but atheists won't fall for it. You might as well be trying to convense us that unicorns are real.

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

      It's always amusing when people believe that the bible is factual.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • HappyMadison

      The time is nigh? I thought it was nigh-thirty.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Dana

      Nothing else in the bible is true so why would you believe that? I realize that your life is probably very bad and you are hoping for a better life after you die but that is total nonsense. Try to reason.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • vulpecula

      @Dana

      Well they are pretty hard on themselves with that original sin crap and believing all humans are inherently bad. They don't understand why we don't feel the same guilt.

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

      Evangelina loves to tell everyone that they are going to burn in heII. Maybe his mommy didn't nurse him long enough. Maybe she gave him too many enemas. Maybe he just needs to come out of the closet.

      Evangelina does love to play the martyr though. Gotta admit he's got the schtick down.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  20. NLuu

    It's easier for me to believe in God than in no God. I was born and raised as a Buddhist, always wondering who created me, what am I doing here, what happens to me when I die. What if everyone dies where will they go. Will Hindu goes to Hindu's heaven, Buddhist goes to Buddhist heaven, Christian goes to Christian Heaven..How good you have to be in order to go to heaven. These sort of questions bothered me when I was young and even the time I grow up. I was taught in university that Christianity isn't logical religion because so many miracles in the Bible and that if you take miracles out from the book it's meaningless. I believed so. Not until I started to seek God myself when my life was at the lowest point, I then found Him. I was baptised in 1992 and call myself a Christian. The Bible has been my official roadmap and Jesus is my savior. I then acknowledge that in deed it's a relation with God that keeps me alive, not a religion. Laws demands GRACE supplies...Ever wonder why USA was so blessed and not any other countries on this Earth was..easy answer..the forth father of this country feared God. It's so sad that people tried to take/turn away from God...watch out for the consequence..it happened already in the Bible...don't repeat it. The fear of God is the beginning of the wisdom.

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

      @NLuu

      Any "being" that needs fear is merely a tyrant. I'm sorry to say, but you are subscribing to a religion that devalues humanity, promotes fear and control, and rewards blind obedience to actual deeds (among many other things as well).

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

      " The fear of God is the beginning of the wisdom." – That's exactly what I would say if I wanted to control a bunch of uneducated people.

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

      you made some sense until you said the united states was blessed, and other countries werent. You are naive, Greed, prnogrhy, and the yellow press are the number one products of this "great" nation, and your a fool if you think the creator is proud in ANY way with how our poor are treated, or how our soldier treat those in other countries. wake up. you are blind

      June 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Bet

      Well, as long as it's easy for you, that's what counts.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:28 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.