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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. b4bigbang

    OBAMA !!!!!!

    FOUR
    MORE
    YEARS !!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  2. RobDiego

    Mark edward No Brains.......To say that we are unable to process reality, or understand your way of thinking, is absolutely absurd. Just get real!!! Firstly, Mary wasn't a f'in virgin. She got laid, just like every other woman that gets pregnant. They enjoyed it, just like we do today. That's why Catholic priests find it so hard to stay away from little boys. They need it too. Nothing about your god makes any sense. Nothing about ANY god makes any sense. It all sounds pious and reverent, and you all love to make yourselves sound better than atheists, but the truth of the matter is, you have no proof, and you never, ever will. Jesus ain't comin' back dude. Just deal with it. I grew up as a good little "go to church with my parents, go to church camp in the summers," kid, and I tried to believe. I drank the koolaid, I sang the songs, I prayed and held hands with the others. I tried to get God or Jesus, or anybody to talk to me in my prayers. But guess what.... he never did, nor has he ever spoken to you!!!!!!!! If you say he has, than you are an outright liar, and you know it. It takes a strong person to deny faith, and admit reality. Anyone can listen to others and be a follower. Just remember, just because some strange fellows put a book together, only 2000 years ago, it doesn't make is SO!!! Don't follow. Just make the right decisions in life. Raise your kids to do the right thing. That's what I've done, and you would be impressed with them!!!! Very impressed.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • BJ

      I just wanted to add in what you are getting wrong. God is not the problem. It's humans. Humans are not born perfect, not born free of sin, not born identical to everyone else, but ARE born to make our own decisions. Whether those decisions are right or wrong. We are destined to make our own paths. God is there to help direct the way, and God does not hate anyone. In fact loves us all the way the way were, as in forgiving. He sent Jesus to live as a human to see how humans live, feel, etc. Then he died for all of our sins. The ultimate act of love. I don't really care if you understand or believe the same as I do. But, please never think that a human who calls himself a "man of God" or a "believer" who then commits horrific sins is somehow representative of God. Instead they are representative of the flaws of human kind.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Mark Edward Noonan

      It is a commonality among atheists I have encountered that they rapidly resort to insult and assert an intellectual superiority over believers. This is why I assert that atheists don't think the matter all the way through. Had you actually thought about it then even if you still disagreed with me, you would have offered no insult.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  3. Goddidit

    An atheist full of hatred cannot really believe religion is the source of all evil if THEY hate the religious.

    Logic fail

    June 15, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  4. Herona

    What some people fail to understand is that there are ignorant people in every belief system.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  5. Rachel

    DeWitt-What are you preaching if you don't have Faith?!?!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  6. ALPHA

    My My, Such vitroil from some of you atheist responders. As fellow human creatures would think you could have some good wishes for all to have peace in this troubled world. Some of you sound as though you are letting the fire & brimstone
    flow out of your mouths. It's ok for each to choose to have a religious faith, or not to have a religious faith, if it brings them
    comfort to face each day. But, it's not necessary to stand on a box and proclaim that all should believe as you do. To do so
    is arrogant, and inhumane. Live & let live.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • apostate

      "But, it's not necessary to stand on a box and proclaim that all should believe as you do. To do so
      is arrogant, and inhumane. Live & let live."

      Christianity in a nutshell.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Gord

      Alphie, those deck chairs looked better on the the other side. Why aren't they straight?

      June 15, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  7. Apocalypse Now

    Someone on here asked me 'do I speak in tongues or handle snakes' as a measure of my faith. No, I don't. I'm not a fundamentalist and my measure of faith is grounded solely in my belief in Christ ~ not other things extraneous like handling of rattlesnakes as mentioned in scripture (which I interpret from my own understanding wasn't a direct imperative. It wasn't a command). I don't judge other Christians by the measure of what they believe personally. And with that said ~ if they believe in handling snakes and speaking in tongues, that is their right as believers. I'm not the one to judge their souls ~ isn't in my 'court'. I can tell them about my interpretation of scripture and leave it at that. As for speaking in tongues, my interpretation of scripture was that it happened at that brief time several thousand years ago. Does that mean people don't truly speak it today and are there those with the ability as then to interpret what's being said? Don't really know the answer to that. That's between those speaking in tongues and God. And this thing about mass delusion. As a Christian, my answer would be, 'of course not'. As for Paul and his Epistles from yet another poster, I do believe Saul/Paul did meet Christ on the road to Damascus and was imparted certain knowledge by Christ and commissioned to spread the Gospel. I reiterate, though I revere Paul and what he has to say is important, I don't worship him. My savior is Christ. Not Paul.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • jill

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

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

      Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

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

      June 15, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Me

      @Jilly,

      Such an intelligent reply. I'm sure he's completely rethinking his beliefs, and not at all laughing at the idiocy you just posted.

      For his sake, I thank you for strengthening his appearance of sanity.

      Be intelligent. If you don't have a constructive argument, don't respond. You look like a child.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  8. Canyon Kid

    Ok, so you choose to be an atheist. I choose to be a believer. I will not push my beliefs on you, if you will not push your non-belief on me. Leave me alone and let me live my Christianity.
    That means leave my crosses, nativity scenes, public prayers and Bibles alone. These things do not hurt you. After all, according to you, what these symbols represent is not real, so what's the harm?

    June 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      When it's on public property, there should be an equal representation from all religions, which is impractical, and the only practical and unbiased solution is to keep all blatantly religious things off property that is paid for by the public. Bibles in public schools are also blantantly a violation of the first amendment. First amendment rights, not just for you or your religion, but for everyone is a pragmatic and good goal to go for.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      @hawaiiguest: What about the school library? No religion section? If a student was doing a report on a religion, he/she wpuld have to go to the public library just to access that section?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @b4bigbang

      Ever hear of google search? Besides, it is, specifically, either giving equal representation or no representation. If a public library gave equal representation, then there's no problem, but if it's only giving representation to a few, then they should not be representing any.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Speaking of the public library, arent they govt as well? So, no religion section there either?
      Not even in the Library of Congress, whose goal is to have all published books?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @b4bigbang

      Do you have a problem with reading comprehension? I clearly stated that anything less that EQUAL representation of all religious faiths is a violation of the separation of church and state.

      Anyway, must go.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      One of my favourite questions to ask sales folks in book stores (when they ask me too many times if I need help) is "Why do religious books have their own section – why aren't they in the fiction section?" Never had much more than a 'Ummmmm, I don't know response."

      June 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      @HAwaiiguest: I graduated from college in '03 and my professors were very critical of students using purely web-based sources. Some allowed 1 or 2 max, with the other refs being paper and ink.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Greenshield

      @ HawaiiGuest, Read to me the exact part of the the first amendment you are referencing. Please, I dare you.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Greenshield

      @ HawaiiGuest. "I clearly stated that anything less that EQUAL representation of all religious faiths is a violation of the separation of church and state." where is this written? Or is this just your opininion?
      So you are saying that no State can have any religion unless all are represented? How is that speration of Church and State? I will remind you that "Seperation of church and State" does not exist in the first, or any amendment.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  9. Scott

    It's interesting how while many athiests assert a lack of facts as their reason for believing what they do; it really boils down to subjective feelings. "If God were real He would act the way I think he should (I.E. Answer prayers in X manner; Reveal Himself in X fashion), but since he doesn't meet my expectations, I'll refuse to believe He exists. This is especially true about the traditional view of hell. How could a loving God subject even the worst human to such a fate? Personally, I subscribe to the school of thought that the "eternal punishment" of hell refers to a final, irreversible destruction of the soul (Matthew 10:28), but I understand those who find the concept of hell an obstacle to belief. I encourage athiests to ask themselves if it's really facts or feelings that are guiding their belief system.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Karin

      It is interesting how religious folks hold their god to be the true god. I mean after all what are people thinking? Right?
      But, than you could of been born in another country. Raised to believe in some other god. Or, you could have been born in another time period. You could of been raised to believe in Zeus. Thor.

      At the end of the day, it is clear, you require faith to hold your belief. Faith because there is no factual basis for your belief. Try as you might to inflict atheist for their rational basis in not believing in something due to a lack of evidence, it just won't play out as you intended. Reality will continue to kick you in the butt. Sorry!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, Scott, when I believed in god I had no expectations. I figured that god was gonna do what god was gonna do. I became an atheist when I realized that there isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of a god. The single expectation I have of any god is proof of existence. So far, no god - not even the christian god - has met this expectation.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  10. Karin

    I have been an atheist since the age of 24. I just recently turned 50. I have read some of these comments out of curiosity. With that said, I can not seem to imagine, even when I was a christian, how one can be so adamant about ones religion. To make truth claims. Religion after all is faith based. To believe in something without supportive facts. My interest lies in how one can make such a statement; 'God is truth...', when there is no truth to be found? There is no event, fact or even a real thing that can be observed. How is this truth? I realize that christians state they feel their gods presence. When I hear this, I recall getting goose bumpy and chills when I experience happiness. But, I have a word for that and, that is: stimulation. It is a human experience. No more. Interestingly, if this god of theirs was real, actually real, than the word faith would be unnecessary. Why is it, that they never approach this realm of understanding? Are they dishonest? Possibly ignorant? Why today, with the enormous amount of information we have available do people look to the sky and seek a god?

    June 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • steve

      I guess you would not know unless He was living inside of you. THEN you would KNOW.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Sid

      So, steve, your god is a parasite. Nice. ALIEN!!

      June 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Karin

      Steve,

      Typical, ask me to believe, than I will know. Know what exactly? As this belief would be without any merit and any knowledge that I may think I have will be imagined.
      It is no different than me telling you to believe in Unicorns, once you did, than you will hold all the magical knowledge of the unicorns. I can guarantee you that there are some that actually do believe this crap!

      June 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • steve

      Karin,

      How do you know ANYTHING? You either see it, or hear it, or feel it, or taste it, etc....

      If you asked Him to come into your heart, you would KNOW without any doubt whatsover that He was there.

      I don't know what else to tell you. I certainly would not have understood this myself until AFTER it happened. I guess that is where the faith comes in. You have to believe with all of your heart FIRST, then He will come in and bless you beyond anything you could have ever imagined.

      "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened."

      Matthew 7:7-8

      "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

      Hebrews 11:6

      June 14, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @steve

      I, like many other non-believers, used to be a believer. I followed the bible, and when I started to have doubts, I prayed for the gift of faith to continue, and received no answer. Let me guess what you'll say next, that I wasn't sincere enough.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Bret

      Karin, while you do post a sound case, what about looking at it from another point of view. You seem just as adamant as the religious people do here about your belief that there is not god. Yes, belief. Has there ever been scientific study to prove the non-existence of one? Science is theory, nothing more. To suggest you know there isn't a god isn't science, its you voicing the same belief as the religious people, from the other side of the argument. People hundreds of years ago knew the world was flat, just as people now know there is a god, and you know there isn't a god.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Karin

      Steve,

      You are not acknowledging your own statement. You state that you have to believe with all your heart... Meaning, blind faith. Believe and when you aren't believing enough –> Believe some more. If that isn't enough, throw on some more belief! Without ever questioning the merit of your belief.
      The god in your head is no different than a child believing in Santa Claus. The only difference is you are an adult and are unwilling to question your belief and even care to know if it is true or not. What you are left with is a strong sense of belief, without any factual foundation and without question. In other words, you hold a belief in which all its attributes are self-inflicted.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Karin

      Bret,

      Science is theory, nothing more? Do you have any idea at all what you just said?
      Quick learning tip: Scientific Theory is the absolute highest plateau a particular subject can reach once thoroughly tested and researched. In layman terms, theory, certainly is just a theory. But, within the scientific community theory is so much more. Like the Theory of Gravity and so on. I am sure you acknowledge or, have at some point read of all the new findings, research or even using the internet. All possible due to Science. So before you start knocking down science because you want to believe in a sky daddy entirely based on (faith), consider for a moment how moronic your argument is. Unless you enjoy pouncing on subject matters that are based in reality apart from yours.

      The world is not flat. Is this spam? You can't be that far behind the times? Are you? Have you ever traveled abroad?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Bret

      Karin,

      Because it seems like you actually have some intelligence, unlike other people on this comment stream, I will disregard you condescending language. Clearly, you failed to gather even a hint of what I trying to say. Never, ever, did I call the validity of current scientific fact into question. I'm guessing neither of us are scientists, so to do so would be folly. And please recognize the sarcasm. If you truly believe I was trying to state the world was flat, let me know so I may change my idea on your intelligence and end this discussion. Now, let me explain to you what I am saying. You are correct, science is as high as you can get in the world of knowledge regarding how valid and dependable information is. Like we both agree on though, science is not science without the ability to question and test it. This is why we have reached where we are today, with internet, the Theory of Gravity, etc. Think though, to be so sure we have achieved the highest peak of this hunt for knowledge is not only an insult to all the research going on now, but ignorant. Even as we speak, the Large Haedron Collider is putting our current understanding of the universe and theories to the test, with many working their saying they may even come up with results different than what would come out of tests according to Einstein's theory of relativity. My point is this: In a world where science can change what we are so sure of so quickly, how can you be any more sure of what you believe than all these religious people think? And, what makes you think I myself believe in anything? Maybe I'm just trying to poke holes in people theories, like science does every day....

      June 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Mark Edward Noonan

      Proof of God's existence? This is the oddity I find among atheist: what stares them right in the face each time they step out of the house completely escapes them. The atheist begins with the most absurd of all positions: nothing created everything. At least an agnostic acknowledges there could be a Creator. If you are not a mathematician, yourself, then go find one can have him calculate the odds of the universe as you see it existing in its current condition. The sheer impossibility of it all demonstrates that some force outside of the universe must have brought the universe in to existence (these days, the theories being pressed forwards as the ways and means the universe accidentally created itself are getting ever more laughable as the odds of it being as it is just get longer and longer the more we learn about how it works). That force which brought it to existence is God – now, as to what you'll believe about this God is mostly up to you and dependent upon not just what facts you are willing to ascertain but how you decide to process those facts. It is a very long way from at least admitting the obvious (God exists) to agreeing to the proposition, say, that God is a Trinity. As for why someone would agree to such a proposition – its really just a matter of thinking things all the way through; something atheists are fervently disinclined to do.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • jill

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

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

      Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

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

      June 15, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • Karin

      Mark,

      No one knows, including yourself, how it all started. To inject a god without any evidence simply adds more issues. Such as what created the god? Who or what is this god and gods?.. Surely at some point, you will need to ask how did this god come from nothing? For me, my answer as always; 'The heck if I know'. I never equate that a god did it. Why would I?

      June 15, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Karin

      Bret,

      Wonderful.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Mark Edward Noonan

      Karin – trouble is, you're asserting that you do know that God didn't start it, which is a much grander leap of faith than my saying, "God started it". Remember, you are an atheist – you cannot even for a moment allow for even the slightest possibility of God...so, you MUST state that you do know how it started because that is the only way you can EXCLUDE the possibility of God. Think the matter all the way through and try to sustain your views – don't stop with the "well, then who created God, then?" nonsense...by doing that you're just making believers grit their teeth in annoyance because it is clear the person making such a statement is thinking of God as being part of the universe instead of the outside Creator of it...which, though, as you drill down through it offers most of the explanation for atheism and agnosticism...such people tend to think in rather straightened terms and refuse to broaden their perspective.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  11. Joel

    Unless you have the spirit of God living inside of you ,you are just playing religion.That is the christian passport.
    They are many atheists out there that are playing christians,but God can tell the wheat from the tares.

    "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
    1 John 2v19

    June 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Sid

      Sounds like your god is a parasite -"living inside you". Alien!

      And there are No True Scotsmen. Google it.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Bet

      Another lie of religion. Oooh, you're so special. God selected you out of all the billions of people in the world! You and only you truly understand god and his word. He cares about you because you're so very, very special. Now give us all your money.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Mark Edward Noonan

      And there's another fallacy of non-religion: a claim that believers think themselves special. The ultimate fact is that we, ourselves, choose what will happen to us. There will be no accidents – everyone, in the end, will be where they freely choose to be. As Lewis so succinctly put it, it will either you be saying to God, "thy will be done" or God saying to you, "thy will be done".

      June 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Bet

      I spent enough time in church to have heard the "you're the special chosen ones" speech a few hundred times.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Mark Edward Noonan

      Indeed: "But you are 'a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises' of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light – 1 Peter 2:9"; but the main thing is that we have to choose to accept the call out of darkness. You, too, are called – accept the call, or don't. But don't get mad at those who do because they are now a royal priesthood...the same office is open to you.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Bet

      And you just reinforced the lie. Oooh, I've been called to a "special priesthood". I'm so special. I'd better do what this old book says, because it says I'm very, very special.

      Quoting random bible verses doesn't make it reality.

      June 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Mark Edward Noonan

      You are called to greatness – do you accept the call? Or do you prefer to gnaw the old bones of mind-numbed materialism and continued bitter resentment that for you to accept greatness you'll have to first surrender yourself?

      June 15, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  12. ROSE JAMES

    You can believe what you want, but GOD is alive and well whether you believe it or not. You will die in your sins if you believe not that JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD, who loves you. JUST BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE SOMETHING DOES NOT MAKE YOU RIGHT. DON'T BE DEAD WRONG. PRAY now ask GOD to save You in JESUS' name, please don't die in your sins, you have been warned. I KNOW FOR A FACT GOD IS ALIVE, YOU CAN KNOW TO.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I suggest taking you're own advice. Just because you believe there is a god doesn't make it true. Your assertions have supporting evidence, and until you can provide some there's no reason for anyone else to believe.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • JWT

      Sigh – another threatening fool.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

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

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

      June 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Bet

      POSTING random words in CAPITAL LETTERS makes it more VALID!

      June 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • apostate

      Oh no.....the imaginary eternal fiery pit. Sounds like the last card in a very desperate hand.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  13. katibabi

    Atheism is a religion of non-belief. It has followers and there are meetings etc...just like other religions. So while they profess to shun and disbelieve, their disbelief is the foundation of what they believe. They read and research and quote and "preach" and profess their non-beliefs the same as other religions. Religion is a belief system. Theirs is just based on professing to believe nothing.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      There are meetings? Where? When? Will there be cake??

      June 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • JWT

      Donuts – it's not a real athiest meeting without donuts.

      Member: Athiest Soul League Chapter 7.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Sue

      Donuts? DONUTS!! Count me in 🙂

      June 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Bet

      I like cinnamon rolls better, so pick up a couple of those too.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Dee

      yes and their Holiday is April 1 .... All Fool's Day!

      June 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • atheist

      Either you are the biggest idiot alive or a troll. Atheist are not part of some religion. If it wasn't for religion there would be no atheist genius. It isn't surprising that the majority of atheists know the bible and religion history more than the religious nuts themselves. Religion is the easy way to be lazy and naive and not look into the truth of things in the world.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Bret

      Athiest,

      There are many, many people in many fields which seek to find the "truth" of the world. May I remind you that many of those people are religious. How does that validate your statement that religion keeps people from finding your truth? Also, since you seem so knowlegable and have found the truth that so many seek, please disprove this statement: there is a god. I want something you can prove, not your strong belief, or the fact that you "know". I encourage the religious people to do the same, and I hope you come to realize you argument is futile, and the world would be better if everyone just minded their own business an believed in the flying spaghetti monster, or whatever pleases them.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just go to http://santorum.com to find out more.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat, pale, weak, and sedentary.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  15. Flappy

    I watched your video. It just has the same stuff I've heard over and over again by people trying to convert me.

    No offense but you aren't going to sway any atheists with that video. Most atheists have already done extensive research and soul searching so you will need a much more compelling argument than you are going to hell if you don't believe. Hell has no sway over atheists because atheists don't believe it exists.

    June 14, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  16. Up Your Rear Admiral

    Leo, see you in the rapture capsule with the unicorns. Remember to wear your nose ring – the big steel one that I padlocked the chain onto when we were practicing for the uplifting.

    This time, though, remember to plug your nose and mouth when I pull the chain and your head goes down into the swirling waters, so the brown floaters don't get in like they did last time you went down.

    June 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  17. inanutshell

    I really feel if we were created by a God, we would not be so complicated, Such as air, we evolved lungs to breath air, so why did god create air,when he did not have to? Too many of instances like this point toward evolution.

    June 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Everything except the fossil record ....

      June 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • TheTruth

      So he decided that he didn't like something, and that means that God doesn't exist? Great logic.

      June 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, please. The fossil record shows that evolution has occurred. Only morons like you think it is debatable.

      June 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Flappy

      Why aren't there any angel fossils?

      June 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @The Truth

      The fossil record does prove evolution, but who cares anymore. We've got genetics!!!! Unlocking genetics has NOT said that a god did not create life but merely proves beyond all doubt the mechanics of evolution. And I don't think that god would be the sort of azzhole to provide so much proof for a theory that wasn't accurate. Essentially, he'd be a liar and a colossal d!ck.

      June 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Mark Edward Noonan

      These chicken/egg debates tend to lead nowhere...I just want an explanation as to how the first egg laid itself by accident.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  18. Babs

    Mr. DeWitt: I know it is hard to meet former congregants around town, but I encourage you to hold your head high, smile, be your gregarious self, show them how nice and good an atheist is. If they choose to be hateful and discriminatory, that shows their character flaws. And you have shown the positive characteristics of atheists. I wish you the best of luck. So glad you are an atheist. I too have just revealed my atheism to my family and have found out who has chosen to be hateful and who has not. I see it as their personality flaws when they choose to hate.

    June 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  19. Jack

    Atheists are especially encouraged to view video #2 @ ... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Bet

      Jack off, jack ass.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  20. Jack

    All are welcome to visit ... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Bet

      Ditto.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
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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.