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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.

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. Wayne Carl

    Sam Stone, I enjoyed your comment.

    June 19, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • steve

      Yea, me too. Almost as much fun as watching a "reality" show ...LOL!

      June 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  2. mthomas

    GodFreeNow – I will most definitely disagree with you when you say 'Religion is easy'. I have a long story and will not bore you with it but it was easy for me to walk away from my church years ago when I did. It was most defintely hard constantly being compared to the "Christians" who do not follow what Christ taught and stood for, constantly being made fun of and called horrible things, not because I have done horrible things, but because I believed there was a Creator to this world. Taking verbal 'stones' from non-Christians shouldn't bother but that is hard..turning my back on the church I grew up in...easy. I missed the people don't get me wrong but the process of not believing or not wanting to is simple. I have however years ago picked the bible back up and just studied, mainly New Testament. For me, I returned the hard road. I look at this world (even with the ugliness and hatred) and everything has just a specific purpose. To me, it makes since there was a Creator that designed this world. I can live with the fact that there are people who don't, but for me this makes sense. Saying i came from a puddle of goo or a monkey that eventually grew into what I am today makes no sense.

    June 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • mandarax

      "Saying i came from a puddle of goo or a monkey that eventually grew into what I am today makes no sense."

      It certainly doesn't make any sense, and I don't know why people continue to refer to that nonsense as the alternative to believing in God. I guess if one is so science-illiterate that that is their understanding of natural history, then supernatural magic probably is easier to imagine.

      June 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Bet

      "Saying i came from a puddle of goo or a monkey that eventually grew into what I am today makes no sense."

      Let's see what Genesis 2:5-7 says about that:

      5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams[b] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

      Now what happens when streams of water mixes with dust? Apparently you did come from a puddle of goo if you believe in the bible.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • mthomas

      Bet I do believe God made me the way it is described in Genesis. My comment on 'coming from goo' comes from a theory that everything evolved from a slimy organism that crawled out of a swamp one day. And mandarax, I am very science literate but that doesn't mean I have to believe every theory that comes out of it. And yes, to me it makes sense that there is a Creator that no theory of Science can grasp.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  3. The Corrector

    I think we can all agree that sloth is very bad for you.
    Then how are atheists ever going to get out of the pit they've thrown themselves into?

    June 19, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • mandarax

      Well sure, 3-toed sloth is bad for you, but 2-toed sloth is lower in cholesterol and high in protein...and delicious when wrapped with yuca in banana leaves.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • tallulah13

      Oh, come on. Sloths are very cute. Please don't eat them. They are simply another vital part of their ecosystem and they do no harm. I don't know why the original poster hates them; some people just hate things for no real reason.

      June 19, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      http://static.tumblr.com/0hzddio/0cWm1plvx/slothy.jpg

      June 19, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • tallulah13

      Awwwwww. How could anyone hate a face like that?

      June 19, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  4. Angela

    I will not judge him or anyone who has followed him from Christianity to Atheism and here is why. If they are basing their faith on a person's comfort in this life why should they believe? The apostles who were the ones who started it all died wretched horrible deaths simply because they would not renounce God and because they were going to spread the Gospel. Many people now are killed every day for their faith. Faith is not about comfort in this life because this earth is flawed and by the nature of this nature there is suffering. Faith is about the hope we have in Christ that after we die we will be alright and never have to suffer again. As for the aspect of hell. I firmly believe that hell is this "hell is when those who have been trying to get God off their back finally get their wish" it is their choice and they walk into it not wanting or "needing" Gods help. God will not send someone there blindly who doesnt know they were doing anything wrong and who wishes to be with him and who will do all that is necessary to do so. And those who are in Hell will not be forced to go there, they will choose it of their own free will.

    June 19, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • SRO

      So, let me get this straight: you believe that someone being tortured, and I mean TORTURED (imagine someone being stabbed repeatedly in the eyes, for days and days) without end is justified??

      June 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  5. Jack

    Good evening. Everyone is welcome to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    June 18, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  6. Evangelical

    The only question we must ask ourselves is whether we are ready for judgment.

    June 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • JWT

      I have not been charged with any crimes – thus no judgement.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • A Catholic

      You have, my friend. You have.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Evangelical' is a veiled and threatening form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.

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

      June 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Evangelical

      Sorry but Pascal's Wager is no fallacy.

      JWT:

      A Catholic is right. You have been charged since the day you were born. You carry the crime of Adam. If only that would be your only crime.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      I am not concerned about being judged by the iron age bully that most christians appear to grovel in front of

      June 19, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • sam stone

      pascal's wager is a fallacy, no matter how much the evangelical wants to deny it. and, any god that judges you for someone else's crime is not worthy of worship. that is why the pious include their empty proxy threats

      June 19, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • JWT

      Crime of Adam ? I have never heard of such a thing. At any rate okease do reacall that the religious stuff you are spouting does not apply to me and never has. Your religion is cool for you but has no point beyond you.

      June 19, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • LinCA

      Pascal's Wager:
      In effect, Pascal's wager states that while we can't know with absolute certainty whether that christian god exists, a rational evaluation should lead to a belief. If having to choose between believing (in the christian god), or not believing, the reward for being correct, and the price for being wrong, tips the balance in favor of believing.

      It says, if you believe and are correct, you will gain heaven, while the price for being wrong is nothing. On the other hand, if you don't believe it says, you will gain nothing for being right, yet lose everything if you are wrong. So, belief results in a win/neutral, and non-belief in a neutral/lose position.

      Why Pascal's Wager is a fallacy:
      a) Pascal's Wager assumes that there are only two options.
      b) Pascal's Wager assumes the christian god doesn't care whether someone actually believes (or simply goes through the motions).
      c) Pascal's Wager discounts the price paid for belief before death.

      There are, of course, thousands of possibilities when it comes to gods. Based on the evidence available for these gods, it is not reasonable to assume one is more likely than any of the others. To increase the odds of a positive outcome of this wager, the believer would have to believe in, and worship, every possible god. Including the ones that haven't been invented yet. Aside from the drain on the available time, it presents the problem that quite a few of these gods are pretty selfish. They frown upon believers believing in other gods. In some religions that is enough to not be eligible for the reward (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      Just going through the motions and pretending to believe may fool your community, but it can't fool an all-knowing god. It is very unlikely that anyone would gain the reward for simply faking belief (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      The price paid for the belief position isn't nothing. It involves going through the rituals, day after day, week after week. It may have severe side effects on physical and mental health. Sex life suffers, too.

      Risk is (simplistically) the chance that a negative event occurs, multiplied by the cost of that event. As an example, being hit by a meteorite carries a very high cost (probably death), but since the odds are extremely low, the risk associated with it is low. Similarly, the chance of getting rained on is pretty high, but the cost is very low, representing also a low risk. On the other hand the cost and chances of, and therefore the risk associated with, a traffic accident are high.

      The choice whether to mitigate a risk depends on, among other things, the severity of the risk, the cost of the mitigation and the tolerance of that risk. In the above examples, the cost to mitigate each risk are; exorbitant, low and high, respectively. Methods to reduce or eliminate the risk of meteorite impacts are cost prohibitive and far exceed the risk. An umbrella and a check of the weather forecast effectively mitigate the risk of getting rained on, and is easily worth the cost. Car crashes, and their after-effects are mitigated to various degrees by expensive technology (from street surface technology to driver training, airbags and traction control). People bear those costs to their financial ability and tolerance for the risk.

      A similar reasoning applies to reward. The choice whether to pursue a reward is guided by the perception value of the reward, the perception of the odds of gaining the reward and the cost to pursue it.

      In the belief versus non-belief question, believers tend to irrationally overestimate both the reward for belief, and the risk associated with non-belief.

      June 19, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Colin

      LinCA – that is a great refutation of P's W. I am pleased somebody took the time to articulate the nonsense of that " rational" to believe in [the Christian] god.

      June 19, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • mandarax

      Nicely done, LinCa. Good job.

      June 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  7. mandarax

    GodFreeNow is absolutely right. Coming clean the way he did is not an easy path to take. It is uphill against everything they have been taught to use as a security blanket, every comforting thought they have told to fall back on, as well as swimming upstream against their own friends, their own family, the social norms of their community. People will ridicule you and threaten you just as in these comments. The easy way out is to just play along with the religious norms around you (which many many people do their whole lives). It takes a whole lot of courage and integrity – clearly more than many people possess – to stand up and be honest about who they are.

    June 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Thank you for your post, rational and to the point. Being rejected by religious types no longer has the power it used to. When we work these ideas out, it is good to keep it civil. While those who argue/rant about Biblical implications may condemn us to hell, there are others who are just reading and not posting responses. Our ability to remain clean and clear will plant the seed for them, and they will begin to see the Light.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  8. The Corrector

    How much help do you want?
    I have to spreadsheet this stuff.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  9. GodFreeNow

    Through this, we are able to get a nice look at the psychology of religious followers. When this man turned away from god, he was shunned and rejected (incidentally going in opposition of what jesus would have asked). This is because that for religious people, rejecting god is equal to rejecting them. That is, god is a manifestation of their own egos. If it weren't this way, they wouldn't take this kind of rejection personally. For religious people, try to reject gravity and see how many atheists are personally offended by it. We may argue the science with you, but in the end, we don't have to defend anything. Evidence defends itself, therefore it does not require a personal investment. Certainly there are atheists that have an egoic connection to the sciences, but we don't kick out our family members because they don't believe in evolution.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • steve

      Yawn...........

      Not even close buckshot.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Excellent, sir. It is simply ego, the most basic and "separating" aspect of our existence here on this Earth. Steve is yawning, but it's his only defense when told he is a bore.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  10. That's A Downright, Dirty Rotten Shame

    Moby Schtick

    Bullsh!t. We can't believe anything we want. We are compelled to believe as we do. Can you choose to believe you have a billion dollars and world empire. If you can, go get medical help.+++++++++++++++
    I'd say you're probably the one who's going to need medical help ~ given you don't make any sense whatsoever.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  11. That's A Downright, Dirty Rotten Shame

    GodFreeNow

    But not too busy and unworried to take the time to post your feelings (and maybe even read the article) on the CNN belief forum. Get back to sweeping!

    ****
    Don't go away mad ~ just go away. Thanks for playing!

    June 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I don't follow, sorry. Perhaps try something relevant.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  12. GodFreeNow

    Many christians, who enjoy taking the martyr position as the most persecuted people on the planet, do not understand the courage and sacrifice often required in the course of letting go of god. They are crippled by fear or alternatively faced with wasted years or servitude to a lie. Religion is easy. Just believe even when you have doubt. Finding truth is hard. It requires discipline, study, finding comfort in uncomfortable questions or the unknown, and a great deal of letting go (sacrifice). I'm always inspired when I see people with the courage to face this. It gives me hope for mankind.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Really great post. Thank you!

      June 18, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Foolish unbeliever

      Amen.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @HeavenSent,
      Matthew 5:22 (KJV)
      But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Thinker

      I do not know why people keep replying to Heaven Sent. IT IS A TROLL. Feedith thy Trolls not! R'amen!

      June 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • HeavenSent2

      Those who reject God are NOT our brothers. We do not have same father!

      June 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  13. That's A Downright, Dirty Rotten Shame

    People have the right to believe as they wish. I guess he and others like him who have left 'the calling' feel very confident there is no God they will actively go out and spread the 'Un~ Gospel Truth'. Whatever makes them 'feel good' for the moment. I'm too busy worrying about other things and keeping my own porch swept clean to be overly concerned about these particular folks.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      But not too busy and unworried to take the time to post your feelings (and maybe even read the article) on the CNN belief forum. Get back to sweeping!

      June 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Bullsh!t. We can't believe anything we want. We are compelled to believe as we do. Can you choose to believe you have a billion dollars and world empire. If you can, go get medical help.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  14. kindness

    I Follow Christ . I never wanted proof. I just had faith.

    HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words
    of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and
    free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
    Christ.
    The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who
    has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often
    but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
    fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

    What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you
    displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous
    life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.
    For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the
    philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,
    except to love God and serve Him alone.

    This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the
    world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
    honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire
    things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and
    to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and
    not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
    to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
    Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with
    hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring
    yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences
    and lose the grace of God.

    See for yourself. You will be on a battlefield for christ

    June 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      You say you don't want proof, but you use the bible as proof. Please explain.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'kindness' is an instance of the fallacy of circular reasoning.

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

      June 18, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  15. Bogalusa

    I too lost faith this is not news nor is this persons story.When you find God and you receive His spirit..I know it sounds nuts but once you receive it...only a fool would deny it...thats a story
    When you find something great..you want to share it..God is real..a lot of smarmy ass people who say they speak for God are not.Rush for example who says he is on loan from God.... does not speak for my God who is pure love.If their is money associated with something that something is most likely not associated with God..read the book, It is all good and God is at the end.Then decide

    June 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • pastmorm

      LOL! Well boga, thank you for your BOGA response to the article....just because you believe in a mythological being doesn't mean that other do. Why don't you go read about your Jesus on some other post and leave non-believers alone? Christians are so afraid of non-believers because they know that it's possible that there really isn't a god....
      Oh, do I hear those lions roaring? Let's feed them....

      June 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Veritas

      pastmorm – make your mind up sweetheart. Here you say God is "mythological" but further down the page you say that it " seems to me that the last Christian [ie Son of God] died on the cross"

      Unbelievers cite "fairy tales" and "imaginary friends" because they lack the gifts of reason and logic, and are not open to possibilities.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Many atheists are former christians who were minsters for many years and felt the power of god in their lives and in their decades-long preaching and teaching. I am one.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  16. Jim Crow

    he just moved to a new source of income that is all.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      grecian formula doesn't pay for itself....

      June 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  17. Michael Robinson Gainesville FL

    Religion is all fake and made up

    June 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      both fake AND made up? what a coincidence.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  18. Potion4

    I pray for my brother, hopefully he will come around. I think that while hell is real its not the only message, if thats all you preached I can see why you pulled away. We know God is love but he's also a God of judgement so the gospel must be preached in totality. Praying for you brother.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Discussing near-death experiences is about as interesting and fruitful as discussing how to satiate near-hunger or treat a near-broken bone.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • That's A Downright, Dirty Rotten Shame

      That's a very nice sentiment and well meaning, but he's also going to need a lot of support if he changes his mind about there being no higher power. Hopefully people will rally around him and not turn their backs on him and his family should he decide to leave his atheistic beliefs and preaching thereof.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      If not believing something is enough to damn a person to eternal torture, then that god is no more worthy of worship than hitler was.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  19. FedUP ! ! !

    To all Atheists:
    Here is something for you to see...It is what you do with their testimonies ( laugh them off or take them to heart) that will determine your own destiny!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeuguDgC6tQ&w=640&h=360]

    June 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • John

      Please read a book on neuroscience and how the mind creates images that can feel very "real." We live in a scientific age: I would think God would want you to use your brain and do some research.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • pastmorm

      are you FEDUP!!!! with yourself? Seems that if you were a christian you wouldn't be so hateful and angry....seems to me that the last christian died on a cross....

      June 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Cognitive dissonance and its effect on the faithful is interesting, to say the least.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Discussing near-death experiences is about as interesting and fruitful as discussing how to satiate near-hunger or treat a near-broken bone.

      (posted to the wrong thread)

      June 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Timmuh

      People do not come back from the dead to tell stories. When the heart stops pumping blood, you have about 20 minutes until the brain shuts down and then it's game over, YOU ARE DEAD! These people were not dead just comatose with a dying brain going into overdrive. Moreover, people from all religions and from all geographical locations claim to have exactly the same experiences, but see their god and not yours, but you dismiss their testimonies as forgeries, delusions and wishful thinking.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • FedUP ! ! !

      Some people will only believe when they GET THERE!

      """"""""""""""
      pastmorm, what's hateful about my post?

      June 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Timmuh

      You need to offer evidence for your claims and not just assert that they are right. You cannot claim the bible is true and correct because it says so in it. We atheists do not say you are wrong, but say we don't believe you know. Feel free to prove it to me here. Finally, faith is not an attribution, but an unshakable belief with no evidence; that's why it's called faith and not proof btw.. Faith is silly, in life, we all have reasonable expectations based on evidence. Why is this the only thing in your life that you believe with absolutely no evidence and a mountain of evidence against?

      June 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Timmuh,
      you know, I chucked when I read your post 🙂 .. not as being sarcastic, but because of your silly as-sumptions , when you said that " faith is unshakable belief with no evidence".
      You don't understand that when a Christian believes God, it is by the revelation of God Himself to him or her. God is not man, and does not operate in man's ways. Those who DEMAND a "proof" as you and others here do, will only get proof in His time and on His terms! When man continually rejects the testimony of those who speak to him about the gift of God in His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit of Truth confronts him about his own condition and need for Christ, then God removes Himself from this person and turns him over to the spirit of deception, because he refused to open his heart while God was dealing with him. At that point , even while he claims that he wants proof, the truth is no proof would be sufficient for him. Go just leaves him alone, and allows satan to toy with him... That's how it goes, friend.....
      But, as for the proof you say you want, I can speak for myself , that I HAVE proof that there IS God. And for me to deny that it is so, it would make me a liar.
      But with God, each person must seek Him for him-or-herself. We who know the Lord, are to tell the people about our faith and the reason we have it, and the Holy Spirit of God testifies to what we say. How a person responds is according to what is in their heart, whether they love the truth and will come to the light, or hate it, because the intents of their heart is not right before God, so they turn away(Gospel of John 3:17-21)
      And that's just how it is, friend!

      June 19, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      P.S.
      I've seen your remark about how people don't come back after they die, but are just comatose with a dying brain going into overdrive.
      That's' maybe the case with some , but not with all. There are those who can tell specific details about what went on around them, knowing the people, even their names and what wore, which they never met before... There is so much more... But nothing will suffice those who want to believe that it's just imaginary thing, so they can soothe their own fears that those who ar telling their experiences to them are right. Human beings have amazing ability to shut out certain realities, it's a very well known fact!

      June 19, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Timmuh

      I was a Christian for 30 years and I never had a revelation of any kind, despite praying for one and doing what I was told to do to have one; nothing, zip, ziltch! I did experience the hair on the back of my neck standing up once or twice in church, but this is a leftover evolutionary trait that once made my forefathers look bigger when they were confronted by deadly predators in hairier times. Also, one billion Hindus claim the exact revelation as you and your mob do; why should I disbelieve them over you, when they also have a book? Moreover, the definition I gave you for faith is not one that I made up, but instead the standard dictionary definition; Faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. Finally, you write that there are certain people that have certain knowledge that was unobtainable to them unless there near death experience had in fact been valid. This is not true. Many emergency rooms have large numbers that are highly visible to anyone who may be floating above their own corpse, and not one returnee from the dead has ever mentioned seeing a thing. Show me one scientific study demonstrating the opposite! Everything you have claimed here is routinely claimed by ALL other religions. In exactly the same way as you dismiss their claims as hocus pocus. I dismiss your's. Tell me where I'm wrong without simply asserting it!

      June 19, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Timmuh, Very well said.

      June 19, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Timmuh, I came here to write a short note that I would be back tonight to address your question. But reading your comment again, and sensing the spirit in which you wrote it, I think it would be of no avail.
      Man can not hear God unless he gets the chip off of his own shoulder. But just to clarify what I just said... God speaks thru His people, as His Spirit testifies of the truth spoken ....He chose it that way.
      Jesus spoke of the rich man in torment who begged to send someone out of Hell to testify to his brothers so they would not end up in that place... But the reply to him was, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’(Luke 16:19:31)
      I believe that according to the things you wrote in your post, and the spirit accompanying them, the same words would apply to you!

      June 19, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • steve

      PRISM1234,

      Amen and Amen to you, sir! You have to let The Spirit guide you with these people; otherwise, you will be wasting your time (as well as His).

      God Bless You,
      Steve

      June 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @PRISM 1234, The all powerful invisible superman can't get through a "chip on someone's shoulder." Maybe he should try reason. I find this works with most sane people.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Steve, thank you for your encouragement. God bless you also, my Brother!

      June 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  20. Andrew

    He has turned against God to preach the religion of secularism. The liberal secularists will find that their religion is not nearly so liberal as it pretends to be in the coming years as it increasingly becomes more intolerant of views not its own.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      So, it will become like Christianity?

      June 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.