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Atheists to start 1-800 hotline for doubters
The group Recovering from Religion plans to start a helpline for people struggling with religious doubts.
June 4th, 2013
03:08 PM ET

Atheists to start 1-800 hotline for doubters

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

(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.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • United States

soundoff (3,878 Responses)
  1. Poltergist

    What better way to gather the Flock of the Disenfranchised.

    June 10, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Pete

      We're not a "flock" though. There are a few prominent atheists who are very outspoken, but they don't "shepherd" us at all.

      June 10, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  2. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Sue sayz
    Censorship..............................

    By the dragon mouths!!!!!

    BBBBBbbbbbwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhahahahhaha

    June 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Science

      58,000 resultsAny time .....................Hey lol??.............the matrix............no horn-y red beast required or needed !

      When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs – CNN Belief Blog ...

      religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/28/when-religious-beliefs-becomes...

      Apr 28, 2013 · hey CNN, this takes the prize ... Hey faithy seems like you have not been weaned yet sort of like chadie .....reminds me of a 5 year old ?

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=Hey+faithy+seems+like+you+have+not+been+weaned+yet+sort+of+like+chadie+.............reminds+me+of+a+5+year+old+%3F&form=HPNTDF&pc=HPNTDF&src=IE-SearchBox

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/

      June 10, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Science

      A source works.......................what the hell........................lol??..............?

      June 10, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Science

      Hey lol??....................want a cookie ..................or remember the cookie crumbs ?

      June 10, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  3. Anna

    Is It Wrong to Make Babies Cry For Art?
    http://bit.ly/19gwagX

    June 10, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  4. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    "................MacBain said she plans to get training......................"

    I wonder what her hubby thought about her bein' a pastor. All that wasted effort the hubby put into the wife project!!!

    June 10, 2013 at 8:10 am |
  5. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    ".............. Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance..................."

    Gubmint creepy kids. Burorats for a daddy figure!

    June 5, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    June 10, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  6. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    "...................Atheists have long discussed disbelief in the comfort of online anonymity......................"

    It's all been done before as graffiti in the rest rooms at the local park. Find yer own doghouse A&A's.This is a belief blog...

    June 10, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  7. faith

    "Jesus is a copy of Horus" dm murdoch

    June 10, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  8. faith

    c o m e in bill ni. c alm in

    June 10, 2013 at 7:17 am |
  9. faith

    bill ni, do u read me? please advise!

    June 10, 2013 at 7:16 am |
  10. faith

    bill ni, u was right. them tarded xtains was 2 smart. they b takin over everywhere. r they at ur place? we r gettin shelled non-stop. major weapon systens they is 2 stooopid to operate r firing all over us. it is doomsday bill. help! can u hear me science guy? i thought them tards was 2 dumb and delusional 2 no how 2 walk and chew tobacco at same x. what 2 do. please advise bill ni

    over

    June 10, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • faith

      bill science guy ni, do u read me?

      June 10, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  11. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    lol??
    Your hope in a flood is for naught. BTW, been there, done that. BBBBbbbwwwwaaaaaahahahhahaha

    "Rev 12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth."

    Poor little lonely dragonites.

    June 10, 2013 at 7:01 am |
    • faith

      bill ni, r u there? do u read me?

      June 10, 2013 at 7:18 am |
  12. lol??

    Socialism and suicide go together like slave labor and carnality.

    June 10, 2013 at 6:45 am |
  13. GOOD NEWS

    Atheists, Agnostics, or Doubters,

    GOD is absolutely Real.

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    June 10, 2013 at 5:12 am |
    • Science

      Go splat chad/Austin and lol??

      Science wins over creationism in South Korea

      Government asks publishers to retain examples of evolution in science textbooks.

      http://www.nature.com/news/science-wins-over-creationism-in-south-korea-1.11377

      June 10, 2013 at 5:33 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Yes, as real as Santa, for sure; but he certainly does not exist, or rather, if he does, he's a colossal azzhole for being so invisible and undetectable and irrelevant and yet expecting to be treated otherwise.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:35 am |
    • Pete

      GOOD NEWS

      Oh, he's real because you say so? Wow, that IS convincing! Thank you for clearing that yo for me! 🙂

      June 10, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  14. faith

    OTOH
    Larry
    "It's funny how for someone that don't exist, ppl are willing to go so far to attempt to fight against it with such actions!"
    We do not believe that your deity exists, but "Believers" *DO* exist; and they try to affect society (often detrimentally) with their fantasies and supersti'tions.

    how bout that strategy, huh folks? god-haters no god don't exist and they don't concern themselves with him. it is his kids who want to control the world that concerns them. total delusionists r 2 powerful. Nazis got 2 get rid of em. they r 2 clever, 2 crafty for em. believers in skydaddy toothy fairy the mentally ill nutjobs pose a big danger to fascists.

    there u go. geniuses

    June 10, 2013 at 4:09 am |
    • Science

      You too faithy................see below ............you KNOW the Christians Be Nice article is 4 link from top of page

      out of 27,000,000

      June 10, 2013 at 6:00 am |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    June 10, 2013 at 2:31 am |
    • Science

      Read some where that Chad needs a cookie !

      The e word wins all the time creationists ..........no god(s) made US............get over IT

      Make sure to highlight above phrase..............then click on the little blue box and search with Bing.

      Think out side the box and have fun .

      The little blue box has new links today !

      9-18 of 27,000,000 results Any time

      My take: A word to Christians – Be nice – CNN Belief Blog ...

      religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/09/my-take-a-word-to-christians-be-nice

      Feb 09, 2013 · ... who have been made in God's likeness. ... are all over it. ... Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the hell out of the way......

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=The+e+word+wins+all+the+time+creationists+..........no+god(s)+made+US............get+over+IT&pc=HPNTDF&src=IE-SearchBox&first=9&FORM=PERE

      June 10, 2013 at 5:57 am |
    • midwest rail

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_eYSuPKP3Y

      June 10, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • Science

      Penn & Teller; The Bible is Bullsh-it.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RV46fsmx6E

      June 10, 2013 at 6:07 am |
    • Science

      Agree the bible is BS !!!

      Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars' Op-Ed

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/biblical-marriage-iowa-scholars-op-ed_n_3397304.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/24/has-the-oklahoma-atheist-been-saved/#comments

      June 10, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • Jesus

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

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

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

      June 10, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      June 10, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Psalms 9:8

      And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

      Amen.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  16. faith

    as my brethren know, nazi god hating fascists cannot cope with proof. unfortunately. they could be washed in his blood and made white as snow, but satan runs their lives and they don't know it. they think they r cute and special and cool.

    legion, in the name of jesus christ and through his blood, come out of her!

    she will get worse b4 he lets go of her

    but dodo, how do they offer support to themselves when the new testament is proof jesus christ is god almighty, born of a virgin, died a criminal's death for no crime and was seen by hundreds and revolutionized korn and dylan and jimmy carter and reggie white and c.s. lewis and malcolm muggeridge and corrie ten boon and the nazi who abused her and killed her sister and hundreds of millions more?

    June 10, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • LJ

      Faith,

      What do you see as being the ultimate and sensible reasoning behind your post.
      Other than the utter suggestion of chaos it would mean right and wrong do not exist.
      You cannot have night time at the same time as day time. You cannot light to be dark.

      I see no logical reasoning for what you posted.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:10 am |
    • faith

      LJ
      Faith,
      What do you see as being the ultimate and sensible reasoning behind your post.
      Other than the utter suggestion of chaos it would mean right and wrong do not exist.
      You cannot have night time at the same time as day time. You cannot light to be dark.
      I see no logical reasoning for what you posted.

      it means u wash up. i'll save france. go hurry!

      June 10, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  17. faith

    Mark , Sue 80:08 is what you should be looking for.

    June 10, 2013 at 1:17 am |
  18. HeavenSent

    Sue, Mark 10:5 is what you are looking for.

    June 10, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • Sue

      Mark 10:5 shows that the character Jesus is talking to Jews, about divorce. What would that have to do with the topic?

      June 10, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Bob

      Since we've still got HeavenStench referencing her one book, the Christian book of nasty, let's take a look at what's really in there. From BOTH testaments:

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

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

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

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

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

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

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

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

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

      June 10, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Bob, how many times do YOU

      June 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bob, these scriptures are about unbelief by not knowing or understanding scriptures, hence, they are spiritually dead.

      June 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  19. Bob

    Since we've still got HeavenStench dumping bible bile on us, and she is unable to respond with any substance to the ramifications of the content of her book of nasty, let's have a look at what's really in her Christian book of horrors. From both evil testaments (and note the comments re context and interpretation):

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

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

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

    Leviticus 25
    44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
    45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
    46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

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

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

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

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

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

    June 10, 2013 at 12:50 am |
    • faith

      bob lies, all the time. she nos better. she's corrected each time she tells this whopper.

      "Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions." prove it dodo

      June 10, 2013 at 3:39 am |
    • Bob

      The source for that point is Matthew. Look it up. Now, other quotes above are from the foul new testament of your book of horrors. Let's review the quotes again, especially the NT ones, since you still haven't read them and don't know your own bible very well:

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

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

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

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

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

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

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

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

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

      June 10, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • faith

      Bob
      The source for that point is Matthew.

      u should b proud of all the evidence u have. y lie? u r a liar. stoopid. get lost dm

      June 10, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality as Bob, God is eternal. You are not.

      June 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Science

      Hey HS............ eternal...........is the print you post on the blog.

      June 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      166 // aiwniov // aionios // ahee-o'-nee-os //

      from 165 ; TDNT – 1:208,31; adj

      AV – eternal 42, everlasting 25, the world began + 5550 2,
      since the world began + 5550 1, for ever 1; 71

      1) without beginning and end, that which always has been and
      always will be
      2) without beginning
      3) without end, never to cease, everlasting

      June 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  20. lol??

    The FLOOD from the dragon is the comments from the A&A's. It shows who is ruling in their temples.

    June 10, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • Austin

      26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

      June 10, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Science

      58,000 resultsAny time ...................Hey Austin the matrix..................you know no red horn-y beast required or needed.

      When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs – CNN Belief Blog ...

      religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/28/when-religious-beliefs-becomes...

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=Hey+faithy+seems+like+you+have+not+been+weaned+yet+sort+of+like+chadie+.............reminds+me+of+a+5+year+old+%3F&form=HPNTDF&pc=HPNTDF&src=IE-SearchBox

      Apr 28, 2013 · hey CNN, this takes the prize ... Hey faithy seems like you have not been weaned yet sort of like chadie .....reminds me of a 5 year old ?

      Think outside your box/bible Austin.

      June 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
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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.