home
RSS
Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists
Minister-turned-atheist Jerry DeWitt speaks at ReasonFest in Kansas earlier this year.
June 13th, 2012
10:47 AM ET

Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his preacher job. “If you don’t believe, then you will be like me - you’ll suddenly find yourself where you only have two choices,” DeWitt told a group in Johnson County, Kansas, earlier this year.

“You can either be honest that you don’t believe ... or you can pretend that you do,” he said. “Which is what so many people are doing and that is called faith.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The transition from preacher to outspoken atheist has not been easy, and DeWitt is trying to smooth the way for other former believers. He is executive director of Recovering from Religion, an organization founded in 2009. Its slogan: “Thousands of organizations will help you get INTO religion, but we’re the only one helping you OUT.”

But a relatively new effort goes a step further than his own group by focusing on helping clergy in particular. In March 2011, a coalition that includes national groups such as American Atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Richard Dawkins Foundation helped launch the Clergy Project, which is aimed at giving doubting and atheist preachers a community in which they can talk about their disbelief.

The program's ultimate goal: to help unbelieving preachers to “come out” in real life.

A safe online community

The Clergy Project’s key component is a private online community of active and former pastors discussing their conversions to lives of active disbelief. It lets congregational leaders come out anonymously, using an alias.

“It is important to focus on any group of people who are in a lot of pain,” said Linda LaScola, a co-founder of the Clergy Project. “That is why the Clergy Project exists, and it wouldn’t be growing if there wasn’t a need for it.”

When it launched last year, 52 clergy signed up for the online community, according to LaScola. A little more than a year later, 270 members are contributing to the message boards and connecting anonymously with one another.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

According to LaScola, the community includes some rabbis, imams and Catholic priests, but the majority are Protestants.

Members are barred from disclosing what is discussed on the boards, but DeWitt said it’s a blend of humor, advice and encouragement. DeWitt, who left his congregation just over a year ago, is considered the group’s first graduate.

“It gave me confidence to come out,” DeWitt said of the Clergy Project. “Knowing that I was not alone, that I was not a fluke, that I was not a freak of religious nature, but that this is a process; it most definitely gave me confidence and a purpose.”

Jerry DeWitt, far right, in his days as a minister.

DeWitt said that after connecting with people on the message boards, he realized he faced fewer obstacles than some others who are trying to leave the ministry. For example, DeWitt's wife and son already knew about his disbelief, while other questioning preachers had not yet told their families.

“I think it is important when you are struggling that you talk it out, that you write about it, that you find support,” said Teresa MacBain, acting executive director of the Clergy Project. “I still try to reach out to people who are questioning, who are doubting, clergy people and laypeople alike, and let them know they are not alone, that there are people who care.”

How does he feed his family?

For 44 years, MacBain was involved in some sort of ministry, from organizing worship music to being a senior pastor at a Methodist church in Florida.

At a recent American Atheists convention in North Bethesda, Maryland, MacBain first publicly announced her atheism, inspiring a roaring round of applause. American Atheists President David Silverman walked onstage and hugged her as MacBain began to cry.

"I was the one on the right track, and you were the ones that were going to burn in hell," MacBain told the crowd. "And I'm happy to say as I stand before you right now, I'm going to burn with you."

She said she sees plenty of growth potential in the Clergy Project. In the near future, she said she hopes to incorporate it as a nonprofit and begin raising funds for clergy who have decided to leave ministry jobs. She also wants to compile a group of employment recruiters to help former clergy find new jobs.

DeWitt, for his part, is struggling financially and said his house could be foreclosed on in the next few months.

For former preachers in search of work, their old skills can be hard to translate into new fields. What references do former ministers use if they have disappointed their congregants by leaving the pulpit?

MacBain said that some “formers,” as she calls ex-clergy, have left their hometowns for new jobs in fields ranging from radio to counseling.

To aid those transitions, Recovering from Religion has started the Clergy Professional Relief Fund, dedicated to “helping ex-ministers have a soft landing after coming out of the ministry.” Though little money has been collected so far, the hope is to help former ministers with job training and relocation expenses.

“Even if you have a degree in divinity, that doesn’t really mean anything,” DeWitt said. “That is the biggest fear that a nonbelieving clergy member has. How does he feed his family?”

Losing faith, losing friends

As a young fresh-faced minister, DeWitt was first confronted with his disbelief when he “became the person who got the burden of preaching about hell,” he said. “I really loved the people I preached to, I loved them like family. So imagine preaching that if you don’t do this, you are going to burn in hell. That wasn’t easy for me.”

After doubt about hell, DeWitt began to research other schools of thought about God and belief. He began to develop other doubts, about certain biblical translations and about healing.

“The next big issue was the failure of prayer,” DeWitt said. “People are passing away, whenever we pray for them to live. People aren’t getting jobs, whenever we pray for them to have jobs.

“The harder we tried to alleviate suffering within our church, it seemed like the worse things got,” he said. “It didn’t seem like prayer made any difference. It just continually crushed my heart.”

When DeWitt decided to come out as an atheist, some in his congregation appeared shocked.

“I was very heartbroken actually because his family means so much to me; they are actually like family,” said Natosha Davis, 30, who attended DeWitt’s church for four years. “I was very heartbroken for him that he had to go through that and struggle.”

Many congregants were less charitable. “Some people where he lives just totally turned their backs on him,” Davis said. “He was ostracized, excommunicated. It is like he has a disease, but he doesn’t.”

When DeWitt runs into people he used to preach to, he still averts his eyes. Going to the post office and to Walmart, he said, can be stressful because of the possibility of running into a former congregant.

“It is because places in which you were once admired now you are suddenly scorned or pitied,” DeWitt said, who admits not having many friends anymore. “It makes for an extremely uncomfortable life.”

And yet DeWitt said his atheist life mirrors his old religious one in some key respects. In some ways, he said, he’s still a minister.

“The origin of the symmetry is me, is my personality, my love for people, my love for ministering,” DeWitt said. “What I have always tried to do is to minster from where I personally am at.

“When I was 17, I preached what I believed was best for people at the time; when I was 20, it was a little different; at 25 it was different, too,” he said. “And now at 42, I am still the same guy preaching what I see is best for people.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity

soundoff (5,298 Responses)
  1. joseph

    Why preach about nothing. Isn't this what atheists believe in – nothing. To preach against something that you do not believe exists is the epitome of foolishness and futility. But does not scripture say 'the fool has said in his heart there is no God'.

    June 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, joey, a quote from a BOOK. You don't get any more convincing than that

      June 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Bob

      Joey, while your dumping bible quotes on us, better take a look at these fine chesnuts from the Christian book of nasty:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Bob

      Joey, while you're dumping bible quotes on us, better take a look at these fine chesnuts from the Christian book of nasty:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 16, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • @joseph

      "Isn't this what atheists believe in – nothing."
      No.......where on earth did you get that idiotic idea?
      To preach against something that you do not believe exists is the epitome of foolishness and futility.
      Really? So, because I don't believe a right to molest children exists, I'm stupid to condemn child molestation?
      But does not scripture say 'the fool has said in his heart there is no God'.
      The bible says a lot of ridiculous things. Who gives a sh!t?

      June 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  2. The Corrector

    People are bitten by their many dodgy freedoms.
    Have you been bitten by your many dodgy freedoms?
    Sleep on these 3 words tonite/tonight & see how they change your life;
    MANY DODGY FREEDOMS.
    Very pleasant dreams folks.

    June 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Bet

      Dafuq did I just read?

      June 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  3. stupid followed to it's logical conclusion

    results in atheism

    June 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Bet

      When you don't have any reasonable answers, call the person stupid.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      the Truth hurts, all reasonable people accept God, reasonable and intelligent people seek God, reasonable , intelligent and caring people find God. Denying God is the height of stupidity.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • One one

      So which god are you talking about, Jesus, Allah, someone else? Are muslims stupid if they don't find Jesus? Are you stupid if you don't find Allah ?

      June 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • JWT

      Not to mention which version of which god. Not that any of them exist in the 1st place.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • One one

      @bet. Right. This persons argument boils down to "anyone who doesn't believe what I do is stupid, therefore I win"

      June 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      Still begging like a slave for salvation, stupid?

      June 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Bet

      -the Truth hurts.
      Who's truth? Your truth? No. Not even a little bit.

      -all reasonable people accept God
      All reasonable people? No. Not even close. Reasonable people don't believe in fairy tales.

      -reasonable and intelligent people seek God
      No. Intelligent people don't seek Santa Claus either.

      -reasonable , intelligent and caring people find God.
      Really? Which god? Ra? Allah? The angry, petty, vindictive god of the Old Testament? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

      -Denying God is the height of stupidity.
      Believing in a 2000 year old, made up book and a monster daddy in the sky is the height of stupidity.

      June 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    June 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  5. The Corrector

    I've heard so many confessions about bad parenting.
    Let's bring the Devil down with this one.

    June 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  6. Manny

    It seems to me that he failed to learn and accept a core part of true faith, and that is that it is all according to His will not ours. He stated how prayers went unanswered and folks still died. It is sad when those events occur, but he failed the learn that every happening is according to His will not ours, and that moments like those are meant to both teach us this lesson, and test our faith. It is easy to have faith when things are going as you want them to, but the true test of faith is when things do not go our way. Hopefully one day he will realize this and return to the flock. Towards the end he mentions that “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.” It had all wrong from the beginning. You do not preach what you think or feel is "best" you preach the Gospel as is, and according to His Will and His Will alone. He missed the mark from the get go and set himself up for disillusionment and failure.

    June 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Bet

      The lie that if your prayer goes unanswered, it wasn't god's will is a convenient loophole.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • One one

      And just how is one to know what gods will is ? There are 35,000 sects of Christianity. Each one thinks they know gods will. And that's just the Christian religions.

      That's the difference between religion and science. Once a scientific fact is established, everyone agrees. There are not thousands of opinions about the boiling point of water. It's a fact.

      There are an infinite number of ways to be wrong. There is only one way to be correct. Science is the only path to facts and reality.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  7. Evangelical

    I am sick of seeing posted on here that "God is love." God is indeed love, but that is not all that He is. He can be a terrible God, wrathful, jealous, even cruel by human standards. But that is his perogative because He is in fact God. The idea that God is love is an invention of the hippy feel-good culture of the sixties and seventies. Have you never read Jonathan Edwards great sermon "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God?" So let's put this slogan that God is love to rest.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Flash

      Evangelical,

      We can tell so much about a person's character by how he says his imaginary god behaves.

      Guess what we know about you?

      June 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bet

      (1 John 4:8 King James Version)
      He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

      (1 John 4:16b King James Version)
      God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

      (1 John 4:18 NIV)
      18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

      This is in your bible, not "a slogan" or "an invention of the hippy feel-good culture of the sixties and seventies". Shouldn't you be taking the words of your bible over the words of a man, Jonathan Edwards?

      By the way, Evangenitalia, have you come out of the closet yet? It won't hurt, and you won't hate yourself so much.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Bet

      Do you have a problem with reading comprehension? I said that God is love. But I also said that that is not all that He is.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Flash

      I'd say that you should read the Bible.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Flash

      Evangelical,

      I have read the Bible and learned all about that imaginary Middle Eastern Hebrew schizophrenic monster in there.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Bet

      No, you said that the idea that god is love is a slogan and an invention of hippies. I simply pointed out that god is love is in the bible you say that everyone needs to believe in to be "saved".

      The fact that your god of love also slaughters babies and children whenever he has a temper tantrum is just another one of the many contradictions in the so-called word of god.

      You didn't answer my question, either.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Bet

      That should be "in order to be 'saved'".

      June 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Bet

      Again, I will repeat, that it was the hippies who put forth the kambaya notion that God is love and love is all you need. The fact is that God is a whole lot more than love. Which stands to reason since he is God.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Bet

      You said that the idea that god is love is a slogan and an idea invented by hippies when it is in fact right there in black and white in your bible. So god is love, according to your bible.

      God is also a petty, vindictive murderer of babies, children and innocent people.

      You still haven't answered my questions, you coward.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Evangelical

      I don't answer ad homenims, Bet.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Bet

      You made a statement that isn't true. I called you on it. How is that ad hominem?

      You don't answer because you don't have an answer.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • One one

      "God is love is an invention of the hippy feel-good culture"

      No it isn't. It's an invention of bronze age sheep herders and manipulative politicians and clergy 2000 years ago.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Bet

      The only questions I see posted was one about me "coming out of the closet" (ad homenim) and one about Jonathan Edwards. First, let's get this straight, I answer questions at my sufferance. I don't jump when you whistle.

      As to the Jonathan Edwards question, Jonathan Edwards was a great man of God. I would take his word anyday over the word of an atheist. You like to pull isolated passages out of the Bible and say, "See, God is love." It doesn't work that way. You have to take the Bible as a whole. Moreover, you posted a lie by saying that I said something incorrect. You and your ad homenims exactly show the kind of morality that you have.

      June 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Bet

      You said "The idea that God is love is an invention of the hippy feel-good culture of the sixties and seventies...So let's put this slogan that God is love to rest."

      "God is love" is in the bible, which, according to you is scripture, the unchanging word of god. I didn't lie, you're the one who called it an idea, an invention of hippies and a slogan.

      You also say that the word of god is the final word. The bible says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." Jonathon Edwards is a man who preaches against the scripture that gods's perfect love drives out the fear of punishment. He preaches wrath and punishment, which causes fear of god. You state that man's word is foolishness compared to god's word. Do you believe his word over god's word? Which is it?

      Either god is love or god is going to send you to hell, kill you or give you cancer, just because he's god and he can. You can't have it both ways.

      Also, I'd really like to know if you've come out of the closet. Your self hatred and obsessive hom.oph.obia is clearly evident. Not ad hominem, there's nothing wrong with being gay.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Bet

      Oh, and that wasn't me whistling. It must have been the guy in the airport bathroom stall next to you. The one tapping his foot.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Bet

      Actually, yeah, I can have it both ways because God is God and can be anything He wants.

      You said:

      "You also say that the word of god is the final word."

      This is a lie. I said no such thing.

      I will not discuss this further with you because you cannot have a discussion without invectives, ad homenims and lies.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Eva, you're a liar. You "won't discuss" this further because you know you don't have a leg to stand on and you're no match intellectually for Bet. Why not be honest for once and just raise the white flag in defeat?

      But of course, you won't do that because you're an egotistical, self-aggrandizing jackazz.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Bet

      Evange.nitalia always runs away when he can't answer the questions. He doesn't even know what the bible says, but fancies himself to be god's personal messenger.

      June 17, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  8. Robert Ray

    Athiestism is not a religion.Being delusional and believing in imaginary friends is a reigion.Religion is not about gods.It is about belonging to a cult or a bookclub.It is where brainwashed non educated simpletons go for thier fun.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • SOCAL

      I couldn't agree more. Well stated.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Atheism is most certainly a religion. Atheists worship at the altar of cold, unfeeling logic. Their god is science. They even have their own organizations for people who believe as they do ... did somebody say church?

      Moreover, they spend a lot of time on these boards trying to spread their beliefs with zealotry equal to the most ardent Christians. Yep, sounds like a religion to me.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • mandarax

      So, in that case, what exactly distinguishes mathematics from a religion?

      June 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Well, if mathematics is the basis of your worldview, then it is a religion. If it is just something you do then it is not a religioon.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • mandarax

      Evangelist, the problem seems to be that you simply do not understand what a religion is. Here is the first definition that came up in Google:

      re·li·gion/riˈlijən/
      Noun:
      1.The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
      2.Details of belief as taught or discussed.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Evangelical

      LMAO. Your definition would exclude Buddhism.

      re·li·gion
         [ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA

      noun
      1.
      a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

      2.
      a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

      3.
      the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

      4.
      the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

      5.
      the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith

      Dictionary.com

      June 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Note the use of the word "especially." Especially does not mean exclusively.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • mandarax

      As a matter of fact, Buddhism is frequently characterized as a philosophy rather than a religion. Good job.

      June 17, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  9. mandarax

    "Truth" according to Chad: whatever weaselly argument I can get away with that supports my agenda.

    June 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  10. Friedman

    I wonder what the trigger point was? Was he going through something difficult? There is always a time where people can point to and say that is where i lost faith. Well I let you in on a little secret. Right now my family and I are going though a very tough process. I know it is not as tough as others have gone through but it is one that is making me really have to trust God and his Word that he will help me in this time. I know there are very dark moments where I said I have hated God but I know deep down in my heart that it is not true. I might be angry at God but that's it. It's only human to be angry when something doesn't go the way you want it to. Let me be straight. I Love God with all my heart and I trust that he will show himself to be faithful when I am faithless.

    June 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Chad

      Warth of god will come if you go faithless. Hang on.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • One one

      "the wrath of god". So is that what its all about, believe or else ? You don't have to worry about the wrath of god because there is no wrath, there is no hell, and there is no god. You will face your challenges with your own inner strength because, believe it or not, there is no god to help you.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Firewalker

      Even if a person should hate God, that doesn't mean a one stopped believing in God. God is the savior of some & blamed by others. Both believe God IS. True atheist don't believe God IS at all. This man Lied to himself most of his life if he is a true atheist. He pretended to believe and now he is being honest with himself. That is his issue. It is not proof that NO ONE should believe because he doesn't.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Jen

      Actually one one, Chad said warth of god. Not sure what warth is but it sounds grim....

      June 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Flash

      Firewalker,
      "He pretended to believe.."

      You are pretending too.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bet

      God is love but if you step out of line, even unknowingly, he'll condemn you to eternal flames. That's where I started to question, but it's more like years of trying to explain away contradiction that becomes a "tipping point".

      But, I'm not going to tell you what to believe. That's up to you. I hope that your troubles come to an end and that your family is okay no matter what you choose to do.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • SOCAL

      The wrath of God...........ooooooooooh I'm so scared.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • One one

      @jen. According to the bible the wrath of god is like this:

      2 Thessalonians, 8-9:"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

      Exodus 12:29: “At midnight the Lord killed every firstborn male in Egypt from the firstborn son of Pharaoh who ruled the land to the firstborn son of the prisoner in jail, and also every firstborn animal.”

      2 Samuel 12:11: “Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.”

      June 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Evangelical

      You are in my prayers, Friedman.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Flash

      Evangelical,
      "You are in my prayers, Friedman."

      How exactly does that work? Do you consider just having said that slogan ("you are in my prayers") is a fait-accompli vis-a-vis prayer? Do you keep post-it notes all over the place of everyone who you say that to and read them over at prayer time? I think you are full of it...

      June 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Flash

      p.s. Eva... just in case you are truly out of touch, the "full of it" refers to Bull poop, not "grace" or the "Holy Spirit" or any other of your nonsense.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Jen

      Personally the thought of 'praying' for me in bed is beyond creepy. Anyone that does so is in desperate need for a real person to join them in bed.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Flash,

      I already prayed for Friedman. I don't say it if I don't do it.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Flash

      Evangelical,

      That's it then? One prayer for @Friedman? What a piker you are. Everyone knows that it takes at least 79,897,768,624,091,381 prayers to even begin to change "God's" mind! Supposedly "He" has everything all worked out in advance anyway, ya' know.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Evangelical

      @Flash

      Mock me all you want, but Friedman is a believer who is going through a difficult time right now. That you chose to mock me on Friedman's thread shows you to be a very small person and just goes to show once again that atheists have no morality.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Firewalker

      Bet, if God is Tinkerbell HE would require my belief to make HIM real. He is not Tinkerbell. What I believe is that all people worship something, irregardless of its being worthwhile. I know the Bible. I don't believe most people do. I think of God as a good friend that's bean slandered. People should find out from the horses mouth whether something is true or not before they make up their mind. Only remember, "If you chose not to decide you still have made a choice".

      June 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Bet

      Evangenitalia is very good at spouting slogans while condemning others of doing the same thing. "You are in my prayers" is the christian version of "have a nice day". Completely meaningless, but makes you sound like a good person.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • you bet

      we found a good atheist the other day behind the garage. it was cold and stiff, bloated and starting to smell. some of the guys tried poking it with a stick but it just lay there. later we all agreed it was the best and most reasonable atheist we had ever seen

      June 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Flash

      Evangelical,

      Often, “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” - Thomas Jefferson

      I wish all good things to @Friedman, but in reality my wishes do nothing, nor do prayers nor burning incense, nor manipulating a voodoo doll... other than to make @Friedman feel cared about. Nice, but it doesn't pay the bills, nor feed the kids, nor heal the illness, or whatever else his problem is. Now, if we gave him a job, or sent him some money, or had some good practical advice for him regarding his distressing situation, that might actually do something.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Firewalker

      I spent years studying the bible, including ten years of private study in the original languages, so I know the bible too. Don't assume that because someone disagrees with you about the bible that they haven't studied it. Don't assume that someone who has "left the faith" never really believed. That's a fallacy that religion promotes, but it simply isn't true.

      June 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  11. lastofall

    The way the secular world reports something like this is as if the person regarded in the article has somehow accomplished a great work, when all it is about is someone who stopped believing, which is actually quite an easy accomplishment.

    June 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Bet

      Au contrare, letting go of years of indoctrination, having your friends turn their backs on you, and realizing that everything you were taught is a lie is far from easy.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  12. Whats that sound?

    Why thats reality creeping in on the fantasy world that is religion.

    June 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      If Jerry DeWitt is leading the way, I think theism has nothing to worry about.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Bet

      @ dog

      Do you have any basis for your many ad hominem attacks on him other than that you don't agree with him?

      June 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      I answered you below.

      DeWitt's "reasoning" that atheism is true is so elementary that I almost feel sorry for him.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • mandarax

      Even if your oversimplified caricature of DeWitt's reasoning were accurate (and it isn't), does it ever occur to you that a few paragraphs and choice quotes distilled by a "faith" journalist might not reflect every detail of the entire story? Or is your thinking simply that black and white? Or are you indeed so threatened that you have to lash out at the man personally?

      June 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      It's not just this article. He's all over youtube talking about how his dislike of hell and unanswered prayers led to his doubt.

      It's the mother of all non sequiturs.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Bet

      No, you didn't answer the question. If you are telling people that god answers prayer, and there's no evidence that it's true, then you have a legitimate reason to question your beliefs.

      Likewise, if you preach a loving god who gives you a choice but then punishes you with eternal fire for exercising that choice, you have legitimate reason to question your beliefs.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • One one

      @dog, Dewitt is not leading the way. The absurdity of the whole proposition among educated thinking people is leading the way.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  13. Really-O?

    ... = Really-O? Performed a quick formatting test earlier and forgot to change my handle.

    June 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  14. Jeremiah

    It's a telling sign that those who leave the clergy have almost no skills that can transfer into a different profession. Kind of like professional athletes. Both engage in a form of spectacle that is rewarded as an elevated form of entertainment. The only difference is that professional sports is upfront about the nonsense it is selling.

    June 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      I dont think that's entirely true. Plenty of intelligent athletes have gone on to success after their playing careers. DeWitt is obviously lacking in the intelligence department. I think that has more to do with his failure in his career change. But of course it's much easier for him to just blame all his problems on others instead of looking inward.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Bet

      How is it "obvious that he is lacking in the intelligence department", other than that you don't agree with him?

      June 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      His two big reasons for rejecting his faith are....

      – he didn't like preaching about hell
      – people died even though he prays for them / people didn't get jobs when he prayed for them

      These are silly emotional appeals that we'd expect to hear from a child yet DeWitt presents as though he has made some sort of profound discovery.

      Also, I listened to a speech he gave on youtube. I think if you did the same you'd agree with arent dealing with Plato here.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Bet

      The idea of a loving god who will da.mn you to eternal torture is a contradictory belief. It's not childish to question that.

      The idea of prayers not being answered is explained away by various weak arguments:

      It wasn't god's will.
      It's one of god's mysteries.
      You didn't pray right.
      You asked for the wrong thing. (So someone praying for their loved one who subsequently dies is the "wrong thing". Someone praying for a job so they can feed their family is the "wrong thing". Someone praying for the Giants to win the Super Bowl is the "right thing". One got answered and one didn't. Apparently god likes football more than suffering humans.)

      So questioning why god punishes people who are trying to communicate with him is a "silly emotional appeal". Right, got it.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Citizen Cane

    Atheism is a religion by definition... and it is perplexing that they talk more about God than christians do...

    June 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • ME II

      @Citizen Cane
      "Atheism is a religion by definition... and it is perplexing that they talk more about God than christians do..."
      You contradict yourself, I think. If it is a religion, then why is it perplexing for them to talk about God?

      June 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • mandarax

      Atheism is a religion by definition? What part of the definition of the word atheism says it is a religion?

      June 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Firewalker

      It was ruled by the Supreme Court that the flag salute is a form of worship unto itself. Anything you bow to, science, money, food, even self is worship. The dogmatic refusal to believe an atheist is a self worshiper does not make it so. The proselytizing of atheism makes it a religion.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chad

      Firewalker, that's a refenition attempt. Atheism is not a religion is a problem.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Chad

      Ps we don't want atheism to get status as religion. Big caution.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Bet

      The Supreme Court also upheld an opposing view less than four years later.

      I'm not saluting anything. I don't knock on anyone's door and tell them there is no god. I don't stand on street corners with signs that say "Non-god hates hom.ose.xuals". I don't leave atheist literature in motel rooms. I don't tell anyone that they will suffer eternal torture by non-god for not being an atheist.

      Feel free to believe in whatever you like. Just quit telling me that I have to believe the same thing and quit trying to pass laws based on your religious book.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • mandarax

      Wow, Chad, that is an extremely telling series of comments. You are not cautioning someone to stop arguing that atheism is a religion because it actually isn't (though you're right about that), but you're telling them to stop making that argument because you don't WANT it to be. You make it very clear here that you are not interested in what might actually be true, you are only interested in finding ways to argue in favor of what supports your self-interests. That speaks volumes about what lies behind your creationism rants. It throws a pretty bright light on your integrity as well.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @mandarax –

      Well said. In addition, if atheism was given legal status as a religion, atheists could form "churches", which would mean –

      -they would be granted tax exempt status
      -they could gain economic power
      -they could form and support a political lobby
      -non-belief could, potentially, become politically mainstream
      -non-believing political candidates would not have to lie about their "religious beliefs" in order to be elected
      -the most intelligent and educated citizenry could be elected to political office

      ...you see where this is going and why Chad is concerned...right?

      June 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • mandarax

      I guess my point is that Chad is largely uninterested in whether or not something is true, he is only interested in if he can use it to argue for his own self-interest.

      It's typical of religious logic: "I've already decided the conclusions, so I will argue that what supports it is "true" and argue that what doesn't support it is not true."

      As opposed to "I will seek to figure out what is true first, and then be open to the conclusions it leads me to."

      June 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @mandarax –

      Ding! Ding! Ding! And the winner is...mandarax! Nail on the head.

      June 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  16. Citizen Cane

    Atheist pastors? Now, there's an oxymoron...

    June 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Bet

      Loving christians. Now that's an oxymoron.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  17. Jack

    God is good, his love endures forever. Everyone is welcome at... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Jack

    God is good, his love endures forever. Everyone is welcome to visit, thestarofkaduri.com

    June 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  19. Jack

    God is good ... his love endures forever. Everyone is welcome to visit ... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  20. One one

    If there is only one god does that mean Jesus is the god of both the OT and the NT, according to Christianity ?

    Does that mean Jesus was the god doing all the killing in the OT ?

    June 16, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Citizen Cane

      And your point is....

      June 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      read more. speak (or type) less.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bet

      The point is that christians disassociate themselves from the OT, saying that Jesus said he fulfilled the old law and it was no longer needed. But if Jesus is god, and god spent a lot of time in the OT killing babies, women, children, innocent people and "sinners" alike, then if follows that Jesus was killing said babies, etc. It's a simple yes or no question that christians ought to be able to answer about their god and their bible.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • the wages of sin is death

      physical death represents spiritual death or eternal separation from God. Those deaths are to be a warning to all mankind that God cannot and will not tolerate sin. you have the option to learn from history or repeat it. It is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgement, you know the penalty as you have mocked it you are without excuse. there is one God.

      June 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Bet

      @ wages

      Which god would that be? How do you know that your god is the right one? Maybe Allah is the right god and you're going to hell. No virgins for you!

      June 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • the wages of sin is death

      There is one God, He is not Allah or any other idol, He is and He rewards those who seek Him diligently. Abraham knew Him and He has made Himself available to us through Jesus of Nazareth.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Bet

      There is no evidence that Abraham existed. There's one single historical reference to someone who may be Jesus, it simply states that he was executed. That proves nothing.

      Again, how do you know that your god is the right one?

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

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