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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. EGH129

    I'm a bad , bad sinner, was born that way and taught that I am worthless in need of saving. I believe that from the moment of conception I was evil and from that moment on it went down hill. Many have tried but there is no hope for me, evil like mine is not worth saving.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      To many of us, teaching a child that they are a sinner, are worthless, and that that they are evil, born that way, made that way by their god.... is the very height of child abuse.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  2. lonewolfdee

    It is always soooo inspiring when someone who has been stumbling in the dark of delusion and meticulous brainwashing to wake up. I was a Christian for over 30 years....I cannot recall not being a Christian....not having the chains of religious oppression and fear weighing me down. Being freed at last from that, is truly what "born again" feels like. Now I no longer have a genocidal god policing even my thoughts. Now I no longer fear death but see it for what it is...the natural conclusion of life. Now I strive not to waste my life hoping for some imaginary next life, but use every day to try to make my one life count, and learn as much about my world as I can.

    June 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Lonewolf and EGH suffer from extreme ends of the same delusion. One that he is too sinful to be redeemed. The other that God is oppressive and persecutes. Neither has had a much needed encounter with the living Christ. Sad really but there is still hope

      June 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Commenter

      Bill Deacon,
      "...encounter with the living Christ."

      I was a Catholic for almost 50 years (and a fairly devout one) until I finally admitted that there is no-one there, Bill. You are talking to (and answering) yourself.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry you weren't there, so you don't know do you? I have experienced Christ alive many times, in many people. People who without Christ in their own life would have no reason to interact with me, and that to my unmerited benefit. Thank you all for believing and witnessing to me and living for Christ!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  3. Star Performer

    I do hope we entertained your disbelief.
    Are you waiting for my performance?

    June 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • atheist@heart

      OMG! It's the Second Coming!

      June 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  4. John

    My belief in God has nothing to do with anothers non-belief. My understanding leads me in a way to help others and to be of service to others. Regardless what they believe. If someone chooses atheism, it is their choice. The God of my understanding has always given me the opportunity to choose. I cannot say if someone is going to Hell or not. I am not qualified for make those judgements. Anyone who makes a declaration or judgement regarding anothers afterlife has stepped way over the line! In the end, if the my choice was wrong, if I was foolish, if there is no God and I was grossly mistaken (none of which I believe) it would not matter. I'm tried to live a life that is not harmful to others and I allowed sleep at night. A persons path is their own. I'm not out recruiting people to my way of thinking. If someone desires to have what I have, I will gladly share it. If not, so be it. Choose your own path, one you can live with!

    June 21, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • SLArbiter

      Though I commend your position on withholding judgement, I am curious about one thing you mentioned.

      You said "if I was foolish, if there is no God and I was grossly mistaken (none of which I believe) it would not matter" which is essentially true. However, what if you are foolish, but there is a god. He just isn't your god, and he demanded certain things of his followers that you did not abide by. What then? Though you didn't fully state Pascal's Wager, you certainly referenced part of it. The weakness of that statement lies in the narrow belief that there is either one religion or no religion, which of course isn't true.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      @ SLArbiter... How so?

      The situation you stipulate the following "However, what if you are foolish, but there is a god. He just isn't your god, and he demanded certain things of his followers that you did not abide by. What then? Though you didn't fully state Pascal's Wager, you certainly referenced part of it. The weakness of that statement lies in the narrow belief that there is either one religion or no religion, which of course isn't true."

      First – the 'the weakness of that statement lies in the narrow belief that there is either one religion or no religion, which of course is not true' is an unbacked statment. – anytime you hear the 'of course' you are pandering to your listeners, and not the invidual that you are addressing.

      But as for your main assumption – that a god requires certain things from his followers that the individual does not abide by... This is the issue. If a god demands that his followers jump through hoops and do ritual and the like, or they are damned, then this is not a god that is just. If there is a god that demands such, who would condemn a person for not believing in him/her/it simply for non belief in this world where there is no replicable proof of such a god, and for no other reason, when that person strives to lead a life otherwise blameless... in social communion with his neighbor and all other people in this world... Then this is a 'god' who plays nasty games.

      First for the whole hide and seek, second for the arbitrary condemnation for not playing the game.

      "- that there is a god just not 'yours'

      June 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • SLArbiter

      @ Wrenn_NYC

      The main assumption that I was pointing out was John's assumption that there is either his god or no god, which is what I was pointing out with that first statement of mine that you are trying to nitpick. It is a fact that multiple religions exist. There is nothing unbacked about making note of that. My use of the phrase "of course" isn't there to deceptively strengthen an opinion of mine, it is used to point out an indisputable fact (multiple religions exist).

      Additionally, what you call my "main assumption" isn't an assumption at all. It is also a fact that various religions require followers to abide by certain rules, traditions, practices, rituals, and so forth in order to qualify or prepare themselves for their post-death reward. It doesn't matter whether or not you think it just. The only thing I am pointing out is that believing that the only opposing view to one particular god existing is that no god exists is a very narrow view, especially when used to bolster belief in that particular god.

      June 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  5. J

    Every conversation on the belief blog nowadays:

    Christian: Hello. I think x, because God says y.

    Athiest: Well then you must be a ha.teful, ignorant, crazy, ho.mophobic Christian Bigot (even if it doesn't apply.)

    June 21, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • J

      *atheist

      June 21, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sad but accurate

      June 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Nope. And the fact that you two are so completely willing to be dishonest with yourselves about it says quite a bit about you. There's nasty christians and nasty atheists. There's thoughtful and cogent christian replies and thoughtful and cogent atheist replies.

      Honest people see this fact and understand it, christian or atheist.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  6. ARNOD

    I AM SO PROUD TO BE AN ATHEIST. ATHEISTS HAVE BETTER MORALS THAN ANY RELIGIOUS PERSON.
    MY HERO IS BART EHRMAN, AUTHOR OF" GOD'S PROBLEM" AND "JESUS, INTERRUPTED". SHOULD BE MANDATORY READING FOR ANY ONE THINKING OF BECOMING RELIGIOUS.

    June 21, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • The Dog Delusion

      ehrman's rejection of faith is almost as irrational as dewitt's.

      however, he is right that jesus certainly existed contrary to whack-job atheists that believe otherwise.

      June 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  7. snicklefrits

    religion is dying. in a couple more generations, the only religious ones left will be on the fringe, and will be regarded as weak.(in developed countries) in a hundred years the dominant religions of today will have the same credibility as the norse gods. do you really think the souls of vikings are dining eternally in valhalla? what makes you so different from them?

    June 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Christians have been a minority before. Most of us are unconcerned that it may happen again. You place more value on worldly advancement than we do

      June 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  8. ditty mom

    It sounds like Dewitt was not cut out to be in the ministry just like any job if it is not for you then get out but don't try and take everyone with you. I know God is real because I have faith and he is a loving God I hope all of you find God not so you won't go to Hell after life but so you can have peace while you are on earth and life the blessed life God wants for you.
    Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

    June 21, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • SLArbiter

      "I know God is real because I have faith"

      Either you know or you have faith. Pick one.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • mandarax

      SLArbiter, you beat me to it. One cannot know through faith. "Knowing" is derived through observation and experience.

      June 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      dewitt knows god certainly does not exist because he prayed for his friend to get a job and it didn't happen. hard to argue with that logic.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • mandarax

      Dog, regardless of the ridiculousness of your comment, he does indeed know based on experience and observation that "ask and you shall receive" is not literally true.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      of course it isn't literally true. it also isn't literally true that jesus is a plant even though he said "i am the vine". did jesus lie about being a plant?

      as been stated many times, dewitts rejection of faith is based purely on emotion.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • mandarax

      So, it is established that things in the bible are not literally true. I agree wholeheartedly.

      Why is it again that you presume to be such an expert on DeWitt's innermost thoughts?

      June 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  9. The Corrector

    IT'S NOT ALL DOOM & GLOOM ...

    My boss just told me that I've earned a bloody good vacation!
    He suggested somewhere well away from this senseless slaughter for a few weeks.
    These good work ethics are paying off at last!

    IT'S NOT ALL DOOM & GLOOM ...

    June 21, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  10. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9.
    The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    June 21, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • mandarax

      Yes, smite them thoroughly. But remember to do it in the loving way that God commanded:

      9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods....

      And God directed Moses:

      17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

      18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

      Remember, the Bible is the source of all that is moral and good!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Might have been a relevant question prior to the crucifixion of the Lamb of God.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • mandarax

      Oh, that's right. God decided a human sacrifice would please himself more.

      How does that logic work anyway? Because the humans are lost, I will send part of myself to earth, allow that part of myself to be killed as a sacrifice to myself (but not really, because I will resurrect myself to fly back to heaven and live forever), to pay for the sins that are only sins because I made them so, and require everyone to accept that sacrifice or be eternally punished ... so anyway that means you don't have to burn rams and smear the blood on yourselves on Saturdays anymore.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      How can anyone so intelligent be so lacking in comprehension? It's truly mind boggling to me.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  11. matt in nw

    It is painfully obvious there is nobody on the other end of the prayer phone.....good for this man. The sooner we can cut loose of this useless construct the better.

    Its only beneficeries are the clergy, who get a free ride and the rich, who can get a bunch of poor people to vote against their own interests. Bet both are suprised the scam has lasted this long.....

    June 20, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • The Dog Delusion

      jerry's not exactly playing with a full deck. he prayed that people wouldn't die and they did. crazy, huh? what an uncaring god!

      June 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  12. The Corrector

    BECAUSE I'M TRYING TO BUY YOU AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE HERE ...

    Contact your local Department of Corrections as soon as you've lost the plot.
    If you've lost the plot already, then contact your local Department of Corrections.
    Google(US Department of Corrections + your state)

    THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS NEVER LOSES THE PLOT.

    June 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  13. The Corrector

    SINCE I TREAD THE STRAIGHT & NARROW ...

    I ask atheists one simple question;
    At what age did you start inviting misery?
    Now, answer this one simple question atheists.
    At what age did you start inviting misery?

    SINCE I TREAD THE STRAIGHT & NARROW – BELIEVERS WILL ALREADY RECOGNIZE MY ABSOLUTION.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • The Corrector

      Atheists can't duck this one – I know what I'm talking about.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • JWT

      Never done it.

      The straight and narrow sounds like a plank.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • igoryok

      "At what age did you start inviting misery?
      Now, answer this one simple question atheists.
      At what age did you start inviting misery?"

      It doesn't always happen by invitation. Sometimes misery just barges in and asks a loaded and obtuse question like When did you finally stop beating little children? or Why won't you accept the love of our hateful ways? But I'm used to it by now, so don't worry misery, this time you're welcome to ask me any inane question you prepared an answer for in advance.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • igoryok

      Straight like path that is easiest to take, and narrow just like the mind which interprets fortune telling as a set of instructions. The only thing of which it absolves you is any need to use your mental mental faculties.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • igoryok

      Straight like path that is easiest to take, and narrow just like the mind which interprets fortune telling as a set of instructions. The only thing of which it absolves you is any need to use your mental faculties.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • The Corrector

      @igoryok
      I NEVER DID INVITE MISERY.
      I know fully how to deflect misery.
      Why do you think I'm the Corrector?
      Respect the Department of Corrections.
      WE KNOW FULLY HOW TO DEFLECT MISERY.
      Get a career that takes you somewhere.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Your analogy is lost here. No one 'invites misery' Not anyone sane.

      You are the one equating not beliving in god as inviting misery. And that's your definition, not one that can be found in a dictionary.

      Silly games, redefining words to mean something else, catch phrases with emotional impact...

      June 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  14. Steve

    It is on forums just like this one that the Word of The Lord is validated:

    "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

    Matthew 7:13-14 KJV

    June 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      That's not validations. Most cults and religions have some sort of verse or passage that says something to that effect.
      –most people won't "get it" like you privileged believers
      –this message is "foolish" to the wise, but "wise" to the foolish
      –your friends and family will say you're believing in a weird cult, but we know that we have "The Truth" here at Koresh Inc.
      –and on and on.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • steve

      My name is also steve. You seem to be the only coherent voice of reason on this whole thread. Wouldn't be surprised if both you and I (both stevens) get stoned by the other commenters.

      June 21, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  15. SC

    The article comments on two big issues regarding him becoming an unbeliever. 1) Belief in Hell 2)Prayers weren't being answered. I would like to shortly explain the Teaching of Hell to any who would like to know the Truth. The book "Histoire des enfers" (The History of Hell), by Georges Minois, page 50. states “Of all classical Greek philosophers, the one who has had the greatest influence on traditional views of Hell is Plato.” The teachings in the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity but what does the bible teach? “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, . . . for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.”—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, Revised Standard Version. In order to feel torment or pain, you must be conscience, the scriptures indicates that the dead or not, thus how can they feel that they are being tormented? Consider another point we live for 70 to 80 years, some even longer. Let's say some one sins their entire life for 70 years why would God punish a person for eternity? Does that sound logical? If you would like more information on this matter and also the reason why prayers may seem to go unanswered please let me know in your reply.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • We are all deserving of hell

      "Consider another point we live for 70 to 80 years, some even longer. Let's say some one sins their entire life for 70 years why would God punish a person for eternity? Does that sound logical?"

      Think of it this way SC: If you squish a bug, no one is going to care, you won't be punished, it'll be fine. If you kill a homeless man, you will be punished for sure, but you may not get a maximum sentence. Whereas if you killed a political leader or an extremely powerful person, you will be sent to prison for life with no chance of parol and possibly be given the death sentence. The crime itself may not have changed, but who it's committed against makes all the difference. Sin is sin regardless. If I lie, I'm worthy of hell because I committed it against the almighty God who can hold the universe in the span of his hand. If someone else murders, we are still worthy of being sent to hell because of who it is committed against. Again, sin is sin regardless, and that is why we need the cleansing, saving grace of Jesus Christ to save us from ultimately outselves. Without Jesus Christ, we are all deserving of hell.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • SC

      To: "We are all deserving of hell" I do agree with you that we all need to be cleanse of our sins, but the point that I was making is the Bible does not teach that hell is a place of eternal torment. Here's some more information to consider on just the though of Hell: The Hebrew word Sheol, which referred to the “abode of the dead,” is translated “hell” in some versions of the Bible. What does this passage reveal about the condition of the dead? Do they suffer in Sheol in order to atone for their errors? No, for they “know nothing.” That is why the patriarch Job, when suffering terribly because of a severe illness, begged God: “Protect me in hell [Hebrew, Sheol].” (Job 14:13; Douay-Rheims Version) What meaning would his request have had if Sheol was a place of eternal torment? Hell, in the Biblical sense, is simply the common grave of mankind, where all activity has ceased.
      Is not this definition of hell more logical and in harmony with Scripture? What crime, however horrible, could cause a God of love to torture a person endlessly? (1 John 4:8)

      June 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • JWT

      You may be worthy of hell but I am not going there since it does not exist,

      June 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      SC, nice try but you miss the mark on several points. First you equate Sheol with Hell; in fact, sheol refers to the grave and not a place of punishment. Second, Hell is not a Jewish concept; instead, in Judaism there are two levels of Heaven (for want f a better word). Paradise, Hell, and the final judgment derive from Zoroastrianism, although Christianity has somewhat embellished the Zoroastrian place of punishment. As I understand it, the name "Hell" come from a valley of noxious gases through which criminals accused of very serious crimes were forced to traverse. If they got across alive they were considered innocent (although it seems that no one ever succeeded in crossing the valley).

      June 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Why worship any being who torture people forever? That sort of god is too disgusting to seriously consider.

      As to what the bible teaches about hell, like almost anything else in its pages, there are contradictions that wouldn't be there if it were really "god's word" on the issue. It's a bunch of men/philosophers sitting around pontificating–as all of it is. If you can actually muster the courage to think about your own religion with exactly the same critique as you think about other religions you weren't brainwashed into, you'll drop your silly faith for the fairy tale that it is. Grow up and get over yourself. You're not special; the creator of the universe doesn't have a plan for you, and if it did, it'd made it as clear and as verifiable as math or chemistry. Why can a man believe anything about his god, but he must use the same math and chemistry as every other man of any other god? Silly god believers.,

      June 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Steve

      Moby Schtick asked, "Why worship any being who torture people forever? That sort of god is too disgusting to seriously consider."

      Steve responds, "Well...that's exactly what you are doing."

      June 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Timmuh

      @We are all deserving of hell, Your unsubstantiated beliefs embody all the hallmarks of sadomasochism, and guess which one you are in the salve master relationship?.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think the crux of this biscuit is that God doesn't send us anywhere nor does he punish us. He invites us into relationship and life with Him. We are free to choose whether or not we respond.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      My problem is with any azzhole who would build and sustain a place of eternal, ultimate torture. That he does other stuff some people find nifty doesn't negate that he's the ultimate terrorist and torturer.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I agree with you Moby. Wholeheartedly! The thing is, He doesn't build it. We do.

      June 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  16. PRISM 1234

    "You do realize we don't believe in the Devil either? So, us being the devil's minions is equally as pointless as us believing in a god."
    LOL! Does it really matter what you believe or don't believe ?...
    You won't change the fact that you were created by God to whom you'll answer for your life. And while you boast yourself of your independence, all the while satan is serenading you in his web of lies. You're wrapped, buddy, deep in his tangled web!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Steve

      Don't you just love how these people who constantly ridicule us for our (blind) faith/beliefs go on to make for themselves these absolute statements with absolutely nothing whatsoever to justify them? And then they laugh when they are told that they are minions..... Sad. Very, very, very sad.....

      June 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @steve

      Atheists don't need any faith or to make absolute statements. The one proposing a thing has the duty to prove it. You'd tell me this if I told you I had a fire-breathing dragon, and you'd be right to doubt me if I offered you no proof. You have no proof of your god, so disbelief is the ONLY logical response until you provide that proof. Or do you believe everything you can't prove doesn't exist? And if something doesn't exist, how would you go around proving it? See how that works?

      June 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Steve

      To Moby Schtick; in response to "Atheists don't need any faith or to make absolute statements. [sic] "

      Well... At least you admit it. That's the first step. Only eleven more steps to go LOL!

      "Hello everybody. My name is Moby Schtick, and I'm an atheist."

      "Hello, Moby. It's ok. We all once believed as you do. Luckily, our Father is very patient and He loves us very much. In fact, He does not deisre than any of us should perish...."

      June 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I don't think Steve understood your post Moby.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      You know, what's so tragic is that they keep thinking that we're just like they are.... They don't know that they are living their lives being blind and lame, so they can't understand that we are not as they are because God made us alive by His Spirit, making us complete....I often compare them to a group of blind men who argue with the ones who see, disregarding their attempts to explain to them how the trees, the sky and colors of nature look like.
      The blind men are convinced that those who see are just imagining, and there is no such thing as tall trees, colors of nature, blue sky and no one ever saw the light of the sun, and it's glistering rays bouncing off of flowing water, making it to shimmer... To them this is foolishness....
      And then they become filled with anger for being told they're blind.... But no one can help them so long they refuse to swallow their pride and listen.....That's a pretty hopeless predicament to be in. And that's the case with the atheists and all those who deny God, and Jesus His son whom HE sent to redeem the fallen human race. But pride is what keeps man separated from His creator who is the source of all life, so it is no wonder that man who denies his Maker is lost, TOTALLY LOST, sinking in darkness , depravity and ultimately in self destruction . The evidence is all around us, but yet those who are blind don't see. Even here their blindness is evident and can't be hidden no matter how polished man's outward facade is. And that's the tragic story of god-less mankind!

      June 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Timmuh

      2,000 years and still not a lick of evidence from your lot and a mountain of evidence against. If you assert that there is a god, you need to offer some proof or go away. We agnostic atheists don't know if there is a god or not, and don't believe you have made your argument that your particular version of one exists. It's the most intellectually honest position to hold. Quite unlike your claim that the bible is true and correct because it says as much within.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Thmmuh,
      The other day we exchanged few posts, and you asked a question. I didn't have time to respond, but came back later.. Here is the response. In it you may find why God deals the way He does with mankind!

      "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 21, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I have come to believe that many atheists suffer from exactly what they accuse believers of. A sort of comprehension deficit that prohibits them from experiencing anything outside of their own pre-described cognitive parameters. It's like they cover their eyes with their hands and then demand proof that it is daylight. I do not think this is intentional. I think they are burdened with a kind of hyper intellect that demands the universe fit into their box called science. Get them out of the box and they have a limited capacity to experience anything. It HAS to make sense. The sad part for them is that God is in comprehensible to man so He cannot make sense to us. Rather we are not able to make sense of Him.

      Conversely, believer are doing exactly what atheist tell us we are doing by speaking to them about a reality which they cannot fathom. It really is an assault on their cognitive structure which appears abusive and insane to them. We should really treat them with greater regard for their deficiency.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • What IF

      Ah, Bill Deacon – another one who thinks himself wise...

      June 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @HawaiiGuest

      yep, missed it completely

      June 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Bill Deacon, this is one of the best posts posted yet! ....It fits them to the T!

      June 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  17. nelly

    psalm 14:1 say non believers do no good?

    The fool[a] says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • JWT

      How silly and how wrong.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Richie R.

      Matthew 5:22: "Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
      Take that. You know what that means? It means Jesus is in danger of hell fire, according to your book of "absolute truth". Also, I'll have you know that to cite a 2000 year old book which generalizes an entire demographic of people in a bullying way shows truly how intellectually and rheorically lost you are. You seriously believe that no non-believers have done any good? You're sick and arrogant.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      You see these "fool" claims a lot. I see it as nothing more than a vain attempt to feel intellectually superior by believing someone else is "lesser" than you. Studies have shown that critical thinking and reasoning actually leads one away from a belief in a god. So obviously most followers of religion are not using reason or critical analysis to make their decisions. They are likely intimidated by people who think and study and learn. Therefore, the only way they can feel better about themselves emotionally is to just believe everyone else who doesn't believe what they believe is a fool.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • God'sWordAboveAll

      God says you're fools!
      You will have a looooong eternity to do some critical thinking!

      June 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @God'sWordAboveAll, I hope so... without all of the nonsensical interruptions and fantastic flights of fancy.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  18. Waileka1

    I've known for a long time that CNN is made up of members of the devil's minions and this story is just more proof.
    We'll pray for this misguided soul that he casts off his demons and answer God's call... but it is likely he never was a Christian anyway. I find these bogus devil-urged stories quite disdainful. After reading one, which only happens when God urges me to, I pray that the devil leave the cnn so-called 'writers'. ... which is a long roundabout way of say 'and yet another worthless piece of cr*p by some non-believing sinner who is railling against God and couldn't get a 'real' journalism job cause he ain't one!

    June 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Frank

      You do realize we don't believe in the Devil either? So, us being the devil's minions is equally as pointless as us believing in a god.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • JWT

      I am a non-believer AND a non-sinner.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • The Corrector

      Ever heard of good cop bad cop?
      CNN are the same.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Frank I've heard atheist say they belief in the devil. I would guess you don't speak for all atheist since there really isn't a set of beliefs or dogma that you all follow, or is there?

      June 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • What IF

      Bill Deacon
      " I've heard atheist say they belief in the devil."

      Where, exactly, did you ever hear that? I think you are mistaken.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I've read it on this blog. Are you saying they are going against the official atheist credo?

      June 22, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  19. The Corrector

    TO IMPROVE YOUR ATTENTION SPAN ...

    I'm a service provider & service user & naturally the service has to be just right.
    What kind of service are you into?
    So what's your beef & why haven't you been praying?

    June 20, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • SLArbiter

      Having read your previous posts, I have to assume that there is some medication you have neglected to take...

      June 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  20. The Corrector

    TO IMPROVE YOUR ATTENTION SPAN ...

    You only ever did give us more reasons to pray.
    This keeps us so happy.
    So what's your beef & why haven't you been praying?

    June 20, 2012 at 8:59 am |
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About this blog

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