By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – Who can people call when religious doubts arise, but they're afraid to talk to their faith leaders or families?
A group that helps people "recover" from religion says it's ready to pick up the phone.
Recovering from Religion, which has about 40 support groups in the U.S. and Britain, plans to launch a hotline that will offer doubters an anonymous place to ask difficult questions and find communities of like-minded nonbelievers.
The group plans to staff the help line 24 hours a day and is modeling it after services like suicide prevention hotlines.
Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering from Religion, told CNN that the mission is to help people, not convert them to atheism.
“A lot of the times they just need someone to talk to," Morehead said.
The 1-800 number has yet to be named. Recovering from Religion is trying to raise $30,000 by June 30 to fund "The Hotline Project" with up to 40 counselors.
Ideally, the help line would be live by the holiday season, said Morehead, which is often a difficult time for people struggling with religious doubts.
Photos: Famous atheists and their beliefs
The idea for the hotline sprang up after calls came in to the Recovering from Religion phone line from people who were questioning their faith and needed to talk to someone. Morehead said she gets a few calls every day and hundreds of e-mails a month from people seeking counseling.
From there, she said, it seemed a hotline that provided a permanent, anonymous place to talk to someone was the best option.
"Coming out" as a nonbeliever – or even a doubter – can often be extremely difficult, Morehead and others say. In addition to the existential worries, budding nonbelievers run the risk of alienating family and friends.
The help line’s volunteer counselors will be trained to not engage in religious debate, Morehead said. Instead, they will try to give callers “practical, action-oriented solutions.”
When someone first calls the hotline, the counselor will start by simply asking the caller to talk about his or her personal story, said Morehead.
Later, the counselor and the caller might work on an action plan. The caller's goals may concern formally leaving religion altogether, but Morehead said that counselors will also offer advice on finding a new faith or connecting with a local community of nonbelievers.
Some blogs have questioned the hotline, however, calling it a ploy to increase the number of atheists in America.
Headlines like “New 1-800 Number Funded By Liberals To Convert Christians to Atheists,” for example, have cropped up at a number of conservative blogs.
Morehead said her critics fail to grasp the point of Recovering from Religion.
“Most of the people who contact us are working their way towards disbelief, so of course we are very equipped to handle that,” Morehead said. “That is not the goal, though, or the job of the facilitators.”
Photos: 'Born-again' celebrities
This hotline is not completely unique in the world of religious "nones" – people who either don’t believe in God or don’t affiliate with any religious beliefs. Atheists have long discussed disbelief in the comfort of online anonymity.
“We have seen how important the Internet is, especially young people questioning their faith, and this provides them with another resource with a different focus,” said Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance. “For people who want more guidance, I think this resource will be very valuable.”
Services that help religious doubters have thrived recently.
The Clergy Project, an online community for preachers who no longer believe in God, has grown from 52 to nearly 500 people since its founding in 2011, said Teresa MacBain, the former executive director of the project.
MacBain, a former pastor who converted to atheism, called the help line "another way for people to contact someone anonymously and discuss the struggles they are having for their beliefs.”
“If this project had been around when I found the Clergy Project, I would have used it.”
MacBain said she plans to get training as one of the counselors and hopes to be answering calls when the service launches.
Everyone that doesn't believe in unicorns can be lu mped together as anti-unicorn? Wow, that means Muslim terrorists and Christians are both anti-unicorn. All those terror attacks where carried out by anti-unicorn people. Did you know that Hit ler was anti-unicorn too? Yup, it makes sense to lu mp Christians, Al Qaeda, and Hit ler into one group as anti-unicorn. You anti-unicorn people are despi cable.
Everyone in here love to use the word "BELIEVE" that word is manmade therefore it is an ideology that someone believes whether there is a God or not. IT IS A BELIEF neither is the truth.
No matter how athiesm is not a religion the word believe is mentioned. It's like trying to cook a fish and disguise it with other ingridients, but in the end no matter how you cook that fish still taste like fish.
that was an extremely confusing post
i'm sorry, but i have no idea what you're trying to say
"Not belief" is a belief. Yes. In the same logical fashion that "not a pillow" is a pillow or "not red" is red.
Disbelief not belief.
Is that simple enough?
You said, "Everyone in here love to use the word "BELIEVE" that word is manmade therefore it is an ideology that someone believes whether there is a God or not."
A belief in the existence of creatures for which there is no rational reason to believe they exist, is at the core of every religion. And it is exactly the same as a belief in the existence of the Tooth fairy. Believing in gods, yours included is no more sensible than believing in the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny.
You said, "No matter how athiesm is not a religion the word believe is mentioned."
Atheism is for those that don't believe in the Tooth Fairy.
You said, "It's like trying to cook a fish and disguise it with other ingridients, but in the end no matter how you cook that fish still taste like fish."
Bullshit. Atheism is cooking with existing ingredients. No imaginary shit.
I have to agree with FreeFromTheism. The original post made no sense.
Me? I don't believe in isms. A man should not believe in isms. A man should believe in himself.
Now someone is using the word believe again. Believing in self is the only thing that is true because one self has positive proof of being real. If you feel self awareness than that is the only truth that counts and that is not a "belief", but truth.
BELIEF is a MALIGNANT CANCER that everyone has including athiest, because they believe
That's a Walrusism.
LOOK there was adam and then there was eve and thats the facts! We are all brothers and sisters of incest, let us pray. Wheres that little boy?
These are quotes from the Bible. The book every Christian must Obey. The book that is the word of God:
Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. – Isaiah 13
Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open. – Hosea 13
Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. – Numbers 31
So Christians, you just keep telling yourselves this isn't just a book written by bronze age barbarians... your loving God wrote this book.
What a joke.
some christian: "no no no that's the old testament...."
And yet they keep it in their book... and Jesus followed the old testament law (though in a slightly modified interpretation)...
Please help me atheist. I was raised in the church to believe their propaganda. I have hope that there is life after death and that I will be reunite with my loved ones who have passed on before me. Please save me from this hope and help me to live a life with no purpose, no hope, and my final certain end.
You have problems if you think only religious people believe in hope and purpose.
your loved ones that have passed before you have gone. There is no magical place at the end of the rainbow where you will see them again. Try and live the best, most noble life you can and dedicate to them all the good you do. That way you will have a remarkable life and they will be remembered and glorified by your actions.
No need for a magic man in the sky.
how is it that if you don't believe in an afterlife you have no purpose/hope/whatever?
that's quite an assumption that you make, one you can't reasonably expect to be able to support in any way
Hoping something doesn't make it reality.
So... you live your entire life just so you can meet your dead relatives when you die? I feel bad for the alive people in your life and how much you must ignore them. Also, why not go meet them now? Just end it and meet them now? Why not? Spoiler Alert: You don't really believe in the afterlife and you share the atheist belief that THIS life is all we have, so you treasure it.
God may be the only thing that gives YOUR life meaning.
Not everyone is like you.
wow, pen-day-ho, you sure got us atheists nailed....
So what you are trying to say, Pablo, is that you are afraid of your own mortality and prefer a pretty lie to the truth. That is certainly your choice, but please don't pretend that it makes you any less a coward.
Someone please call the atheist hotline. Operators are waiting to fake your call.
They actually have faith that someone will answer.
If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall ... say to the elders of his town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death.
– Deut 21
Get to work on your teenagers Christians. Every word of the Bible must be obeyed right?
What a joke!
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
– Matthew 18:7-9
Get to work on yourselves Christians. Every word of the Bible must be obeyed right? Every word Matthew wrote was a true quote from Jesus' lips right?
You have no idea what Christianity is like. Keep spreading your falsehoods. Enjoy yourself.
You don't know much about the bible do you.
that's a direct quote from your Bible which according to you and your brethren, is the word of God. How could it be a falsehood you tool?
Are you in denial?!
Even Jesus used hyperbole to make a point. Quit being soooo stupid.
If we were to take Suffer'n seriously then one could say that the ENTIRE bible is hyperbole and none of it needs to be taken seriously. Now there's an opinion that I might be able to get behind.
To Mark: You people married God when you decided to deny him. The God Particle name implies that there is a main cause, an essential block for everything else, where every thing is based upon. Good choice.
Gotta love when the ignorant speak of something they obviously know nothing about. It is only nicknamed the god particle because much like any god it has been rather evasive. Atheism only defines disbelief in a god, it has nothing to do with the Higgs Boson (the proper name for the 'god particle').
If you wish to start this game, then we can blame muslims on christians because muslims take their book from the christian bible.
I would disabuse you of your misunderstanding about the "god particle" but, first, it's clear there's no teaching you anything and second, it's so terribly funny.
I'm married to god? Geez, that guy just won't take no for an answer. First, he rapes Mary and gets her pregnant with himself, and now he forces us to marry him if we don't believe in him?
Also, if god is married to us, and some of us are men, is god in a gay marriage?
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. – 1 Corinthians 14
Know your place Christian women. Every word of the Bible must be obeyed right?
Read the context of a group of women prophets interrupting church services. If it had been men, the same would have been told to them. Quit being soooooo stupid.
If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods …do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him.
– Deut 13:7-12
Get to work Christians. Every word of the Bible must be obeyed right?
You are already dead. So what is your point again?
Writing from the grave again Dyslexic? Guess you're not too dead after all.
If he's dead and he's still writing, wouldn't that qualify as the second coming or something?
There is a power that exists and is beyond us (call it whatever you like). Religions are an attempt to explain this world. They are man made.
You said, "There is a power that exists and is beyond us."
There may very well be.
You said, "Religions are an attempt to explain this world."
No, they're not. They are projecting their superstitions on it, and in the process they impede those that stand a chance of actually coming up with sensible answers.
If I could stop a person from raping a child, I would. That’s the difference between me and your God
Tracy is awesome. :-)
Nice, I understood that religion is completely made up at age 12....48 years later I am very glad I did.
Does your conversion to atheism really matter after a 100 years? By then all those who read this article are probably dead already. If there is nothing after death, if a soul is not immortal, and if death is the end, then nothing really matter. All the good deeds you have done, the contributions you have made to the humanity, or the bad things you wish no one will ever find out will be simply vanished away after your death. You may say, "History will be the judge." I will ask,"What good about the judgement if you are not there to be judged?" So does it really matter if you convert to atheist? I will say it does matter if you feel good after the conversion. Does it really matter after 100 years? If atheism is right(there is no real way to prove it unless you realize there is nothing after you die), whether you convert to atheism doesn't really matter.
yes, more people embracing logic and reason is better than gullable people believe in supernatural nonsense. it's just common sense.
Cult deprogramming for main stream religions?
now I know why the world is in a super mess the Devil takes control everyday!
but Santa and the Tooth Fairy are working hard to do nice things so we'll all be OK.
Don't forget about how Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster are really messing things up as well!
this morning there was a knock at my door. A pleasant and enthusiastic young couple were there.
John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."
Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."
Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"
John: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."
Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"
John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."
Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."
Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"
Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."
John: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."
Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"
Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."
Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"
John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."
Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"
Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."
Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"
John: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."
Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"
John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."
Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"
Mary: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."
Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"
John: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"
Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."
John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."
Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."
Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."
Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"
John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."
Me: "Who's Karl?"
Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."
Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"
John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."
From the Desk of Karl
1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
2. Use alcohol in moderation.
3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
4. Eat right.
5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
6. The moon is made of green cheese.
7. Everything Hank says is right.
8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
9. Don't use alcohol.
10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.
Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."
Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."
Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."
John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."
Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"
Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."
Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"
Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."
Me: "How do you figure that?"
Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"
Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."
John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."
Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."
John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."
Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."
Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."
Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."
John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"
Me: "We do?"
Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."
Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"
John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."
Me: "But...oh, never mind.
The video is pretty good too
This was beautiful!
Does your conversion to athiesm really matter really matter after a 100 years? By then all those who read this article are probably dead already. If there is nothing after death, if a soul is not immortal, and if death is the end, then nothing really matter. All the good deeds you have done, the contributions you have made to the humanity, or the bad things you wish no one will ever find out will be simply vanished away after your death. You may say, "History will be the judgement." I will ask,"Why good about the judgement if you are not there to be judged?" So does it really matter if you convert to atheist? I will say it does matter if you feel good after the conversion. Does it really matter after 100 years? If atheism is right(there is no real way to prove it unless you realize there is nothing after you die), whether you convert to atheism doesn't really matter.
Honestly, there is no reason to live if you are an atheist. Man, do I feel sorry for them.
Buddy, if you need an imaginary superbeing constantly threatening you to make sure you don't act cruel and awful to other people then you are much, much worse off than any atheist.
does it matter if it matters in 100 years?
how would you know, you're clearly not an atheist, because an atheist would not say such ridiculous things
Lets turn it around. If you devote your life to a super natural being. Spend hours upon hours upon hours worshiping this being. Praying/ fasting to this being and there is NO Being ... Is THAT not the definition of a wasted life?
Life IS MORE presious BECAUSE there is no after life. I love today ... because I cannot love when I'm dead
Life is ALL there is for atheists. Now the real question is why don't all these "faithful" people who "know" that heaven awaits them just end it all and go to heaven now. Spoiler Alert: It's because they don't actually believe in heaven either.
Why does everyone think that atheism automatically means that all atheists are nihilists? Seriously, what in the world gives you the impression that since atheists believe there is no afterlife that somehow makes this life (this one, precious, fleeting and finite life) meaningless?
I wager the atheists tries to make the most out of his or her life knowing that at any moment it could end vs. the christian who believes that life is only the waiting room before entering a different life and squanders the opportunity of life by obeying archaic rules and wasting a lot of time bettering no one and nothing.
The universe cares about us. What solipism!
The real brilliance here is that religion convinced their followers that glory and bliss await them beyond this life, but one thing to stop believers from killing themselves in droves is to make suicide a mortal sin.
The sad part is the "smart" believer sometimes thinks he or she found a loophole and decides to sacrifice their soul for their childrens by killing them to send them to heaven quicker.
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.