This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Locked Out: How the Church Responded to their Pastor’s Coming Out

Locked Out: How the Church Responded to their Pastor’s Coming Out - Comments

Liln's Avatar Comment 1 by Liln

.

(((hugs)))

That is all. Apologies for having nothing pertinent to say.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 06:44:01 UTC | #933561

gloves71's Avatar Comment 2 by gloves71

I can't say I'm surprised at the theists' reactions - and I'll bet Teresa isn't all that surprised either - otherwise she would have left her church a long time ago.

Although it's human nature to feel betrayed when someone you considered to be 'one of you' renounces the group - you'd think these Christians would be above that with their superior moral values. But really they are just apes who haven't learned to think for themselves yet.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 07:27:57 UTC | #933570

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 3 by Alan4discussion

“These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the GREATEST of these is love.” Standing in front of the locked doors of the church, I realize they are simply words devoid of meaning.

Like many dogmas which need to be constantly re-asserted, the notion of xtian "love" is the tribal or racist "love" of their own tribe or clique, to to exclusion of love for the wider human race. - Hence religious warring factions.

In our society the term atheist is met with ridicule and disgust. Many choose to remain silent for fear of retribution from those within the religious community.

Fortunately this anti-heretic primitivism, has been shaken off in many more civilised advanced countries.
The attitude arises from the authoritarian pseudo-morality which enforces dogma with threats of a sky-daddy condemning naughty sheeples to eternal hell-fire.

God-fearing = morality - therefore - atheism = immorality.
It is simplistic enough for even the dimmest to follow - no thinking required.
The concept of self discipline and a wider community empathy for the human race is simply not considered.
The rest of humanity is regarded as an under-class only fit for recruitment to the particular thinking of the meme group, or consigned to the dust-bin of Hell.

This sort of simplistic arrogant thinking is particularly prevalent in backward rural communities, where particular forms of theism have been able to dominate local community social structures, and so are able to ostracise those outside the group-think.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 09:19:35 UTC | #933586

lordbadger's Avatar Comment 4 by lordbadger

If you didn't tell your (ex)congregation before telling the world at an atheist conference, I think they would feel quite betrayed probably more so not less, had you been present at important life events at hospitals etc. I might also be annoyed if you subsequently continued to hold me subject to doctrines you had decided were false, but maybe I would be more understanding, can't help thinking it would feel like someone who I had trusted and seen as an authority on faith in my life had then turned round to the world and said can you believe what these idiots believe, ha!

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 10:41:45 UTC | #933591

metman's Avatar Comment 5 by metman

@Alan, let's not forget that tribalist racism does not require religion though. Some of the least religious countries on the planet have a very healthy streak of xenophobia as well. Look at the Scandanavian countries and Japan, for instance. Religion juts defines a tribe, it does not have a monopoly on the concept.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 10:43:47 UTC | #933593

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 6 by cheesedoff17

@ Alan4 Mental tribalism seems very healthy in every sphere, racial, political or religious which is probably why concepts like Humanism and the Zeitgeist Movement are so hard for many to fathom as they do away with the posts people tether themselves to.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 11:53:50 UTC | #933601

Son of Rea's Avatar Comment 7 by Son of Rea

I feel your outrage and pain. You've been betrayed beyond belief (probably a pun in there somewhere if you dig for it). People with whom you've felt a deep connection have turned their backs on you, not for what you've done, but for the thoughts you hold in your head.

Now is the true test for you. You can reflect their hatred by behaving similarly toward them, or you can show them what kind of person you are, and how a person of true character should behave. You can show yourself what kind of person you want to be.

If you behave with love in your heart. Continue to help at church functions. Continue to visit the sick and those in need. Do it without expectations, and without the hope of proving a point.

Be the person you would be proud to know.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 11:59:13 UTC | #933602

Doonhamer's Avatar Comment 8 by Doonhamer

Wonder if any local florist would send her flowers....

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 12:03:53 UTC | #933603

BenS's Avatar Comment 9 by BenS

I'm really struggling to muster much empathy here. You did, it seems, systematically deceive these people, standing in front of them and lying to them week after week. I just had a bit of a quick read through the article and clergy project site to make sure I'm not being unfairly critical and I don't think I am. You even said "I feel like a fraud.". That's because you were a fraud.

Now I'm all for people leaving the folly of religion behind, it's a great thing - but did you really expect your flock to just shrug it off with a but of 'shucks, you caught us out there' good humour after the colossal deception you perpetrated against them?

If I found out someone had been deceiving me week in, week out I'd be pretty damned annoyed too.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 12:35:23 UTC | #933612

Sara's Avatar Comment 10 by Sara

OK - I'll give the church members the benefit of the doubt.

They were stunned by their pastor's actions and reacted by protecting themselves to what they perceived as a harsh blow.

In their minds, she cast them out, so they cast her out.

Pretty basic stuff. It's not admirable, but it's not surprising, either.

Also, we can't presume that the whole church is of one mind about its pastor. The lock-out could be the decision of a small group of panicked leaders trying to cope with a situation they never foresaw.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 12:39:46 UTC | #933613

sunkist's Avatar Comment 11 by sunkist

Lets face it, not many of us have had this kind of "damascene de-conversion" to deal with. I can only sympathise with someone placed in this predicament in wrestling with a crisis of faith from such a prominent religious position. It must have been a torment to go through.

Let those of us who did not go through such a trauma to condemn the way it was done. I know that my de-conversion from within a nominally Christian family involved no such trauma.

I hope she can find a way of dealing with this exclusion.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 12:53:59 UTC | #933618

notany's Avatar Comment 12 by notany

This sounds a lot like a domestic divorce. You had to bide your time to decide if this was the right thing to do. You had to keep control over how and when you were going to do it.

I'm sure the congregation was shocked to find that a minister could perform their duties and care about them without holding the beliefs required of their church.

I doubt things would have gone any smoother if you had approached the deacons and told them you had a "few things" to tell the congregation next Sunday. They probably still would have locked you out and you wouldn't have had a chance to say anything public. At least your congregation got the story on what happened and why you are gone.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 13:21:25 UTC | #933630

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 13 by aquilacane

Would you do this to a fellow atheist turned ex-atheist? Surely not. I would want to know, WTF? What happened man? Tell me all about it, I'll get the bong, you'll be atheist again before end of day. Sure, I may insult them and give them a good strong verbal shit kicking but it's a verbal shit kicking of love.

If they cared a fraction of a damn as much about her as she did about them, they would have been concerned for her soul (person) not theirs'. They would have invited her in, right away. They would have tried to remind her of how she matters to them. So demented.

This being Easter, I was happy to see my family finally joining in on the religious beating I like to give at these special times of the year. I really felt a warm sensation in my heart when my cousin announced a very happy Jewish Zombie Day to everyone and we all had a laugh, even my Catholic uncle had a laugh. How couldn't he, he was surrounded by atheists who finally don't give a damn that people get offended... even family.

We each, in turn, followed the Jewish Zombie remark with our own little religious joke (further strengthening our resolve that religion is silly). It's a shame that I catch shit my entire life for crapping on the religious but now that Sir Richard, Knight of the Secular Order, has memed anti-religion into the home, I can crack wise with the family and all is well. Sheep can be reasonable. What a great weekend.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 13:29:33 UTC | #933633

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

Comment 5 by metman

@Alan, let's not forget that tribalist racism does not require religion though.

Indeed! Many ideological political groups behave in a similar manner.

..but when they combine this with region its can turn really nasty! - http://www.nobeliefs.com/mementoes.htm

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 13:49:24 UTC | #933641

achromat666's Avatar Comment 15 by achromat666

Having come from (and left the religion of) a still quite religious family, I feel I can actually sympathize on both ends. Though there is so much of her predicament that is unique.

The break from Christianity is a cultural one as well as a belief based one. In the culture you are accepted and doing work for the church or for the community in the name of the church is considered both respectable and highly looked upon. To be the pastor of said church doing these things both puts you in a great position of respect and influence and puts a lot of pressure on someone having doubts. You are after all passing to the parish the word of God that faith worships. You chose to be the person to do that through the years it took to get to that position in seminary school. By community thinking, in order for the parish to maintain the strength of their faith, your faith should be absolute.

And, like many in the Clergy Project, that simply isn't the case. These are people that struggled to do what they thought was their God's will, only to discover the God they were raised to believe in became more distant and less resonating in their lives. How can you pass down the word you don't believe in? How do you face a community that looks to you for guidance in faith only to discover you have none?

And from the perspective of the community, regardless of how we may feel, this isn't just some rebellious child or wayward spouse, this is the person you look to for strengthening your faith when you are in crisis. If they have no faith, what does this say of their teachings over the years?

This isn't a question of who is right and wrong, but much closer to what was mentioned in a previous post to a divorce or breaking up from a long term relationship. Everyone feels betrayed, everyone feels hurt. Obviously I sympathize for Teresa, it brings up a lot of the feelings I had when I had my conversations with family members on the subject. But I can certainly understand the feelings the church has even if I don't agree with a single one of their positions or the wat they responded.

My best wishes to you Teresa, I know nothing about this predicament was or is easy.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 14:10:39 UTC | #933647

AlGarnier's Avatar Comment 16 by AlGarnier

It is the "sense of belonging" that drives all animals toward survival. Natural crossbreeding and diversity in all animals is controlled by this emotion. Religion isolates and polarizes the animal psyche against acceptance of conflicting social constructs irregardless of any superior natural benefits. Religion is a Man-made mental illness that needs to be irradicated from the mind to allow the psyche to evolve in concert with the evolution of the species. Humanity needs to evolve in order to survive and the sooner mythology runs its mindless course the better it will be for humanity. Stand fast in your sense of belonging to nature and survival of the species. It is the only immortality afforded to humanity.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 14:29:33 UTC | #933651

refuteist's Avatar Comment 17 by refuteist

I think regular progress reports would help to clarify what is happening to Teresa and how she handles the situation. We could all appreciate some enlightenment!

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 15:14:52 UTC | #933671

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 18 by Zeuglodon

I find myself agreeing with Comment 9 by BenS, Comment 10 by Sara, Comment 13 by aquilacane (minus the verbal shit-kicking), and Comment 15 by achromat666. Unless there's a future opportunity to reconcile and return things to normal (hopefully, as people tend to adapt eventually to new things unless they're really too far out of their comfort zone), try your best to do good. They can't hate you for long if you keep doing nice things to them or asking them politely for favours.

If they're ready to talk, see if you can find a kindly ear among them to explain yourself to them.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 15:15:44 UTC | #933673

caseyg5's Avatar Comment 19 by caseyg5

There is no surprise here. The church is a business and here acts like one. Many people who've worked for offices know the feeling when they are let go, laid off or fired when the company has a security guard stand over you while you clean out your belongings to be escorted out. When you aren't with the servants of the firm anymore you are treated as toxic trash going out the door. It is like the attitude that many business people have about customers. Recently it was shown that executives at Goldman Sachs referred to customers as "Muppets." The reality is that as a customer you are in the way of the money in your pocket that they want. The church hierarchy wants members pouring resources into their coffers regularly and will tell you any kind of claptrap to get it. To be rejected by brainwashed minions is to be given freedom from oppressive thought.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 15:57:30 UTC | #933681

TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 20 by TeraBrat

Blockquote Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the people, I hate the actions taken based upon prejudice and intolerance

People do the dumbest things. If they really cared about you they would rally around you in the hopes you would "come to your senses" as they see it. What they did was push you farther away. Maybe you should be grateful that they closed that path for you.

Whatever path you choose the people who really care about you should wish you well. Anyone who doesn't is not really your friend.

Hugs.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 16:24:32 UTC | #933687

caseyg5's Avatar Comment 21 by caseyg5

@Ben S, You are much too harsh on Teresa. Suppose you were a true believer for many years and slowly over time you began to have doubts about some of the things you were promoting because you began to realize that they were inherently flawed. I wonder how many employees of business out there would continue to be able to work knowing that products are cheap, badly designed, "strangely" break down after the warranty expires, etc., and expressing their objections? Does this make them frauds and phonies because they are hanging on to an income that feeds their families? By your thinking most of the world population working for employers could be labeled frauds for promoting products that have problems. I worked for a place that had product issues and it would officially lie about them. They weren't harmful problems, just quality ones. If I spoke out, I hit the streets. Food goes, housing goes. The company goes on. Who's screwed? Me!

Teresa didn't begin knowing that church teachings were full of it but evolved into it due to her brain actually working and examining facts from the inside of the company. Aren't whistleblowers honored now whereas once they were a pariah?

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 16:29:18 UTC | #933691

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 22 by AtheistEgbert

I don't think many of us would be surprised at the reaction, Teresa, and of course you have my full sympathy and understanding.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 18:22:50 UTC | #933715

carissa's Avatar Comment 23 by carissa

Theresa,

I was one of those at the conference nodding in recognition and crying at your bravery. Love you girl! I'm so sorry you've had to go through this.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 19:12:33 UTC | #933726

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 24 by xmaseveeve

Babe, whatever anyone says, you did the right thing. If it's any comfort to you, I think I see why they are so angry. It's simply because you prove that it's perfectly possible to be an atheist and a good person. You give the game away. I hope that you continue to help people, only this time giving the jam without the Jerusalem.

Their Jesus would condemn their unchristian actions, as well as the way religions operate, and they know that, deep down. You have proved that you, as an atheist, are more of a Christian than they will ever be as Bible-thumpers.

You have a story to tell, and, although you didn't seek the spotlight, I hope that you can give some high-profile interviews on television. An Oprah special would be great.

Well done and welcome. We are very proud of you. More hugs!

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 20:48:44 UTC | #933745

stellier68's Avatar Comment 25 by stellier68

You open the doors and flew out of of there...Too bad for them if they "locked you out", its their loss. Breaking out of a system as controlling as any religious sect is a slow process, but hey, today's the first day of the rest of your life and at least whatever you will be building, from now on, will be done on solid ground. Stay true to yourself, you deserve it, you are a remarkable woman. : )

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 01:09:05 UTC | #933796

L.K. Malone's Avatar Comment 26 by L.K. Malone

Gandhi once said that the greatest obstacle in India to the Christian faith was Christians. I'm a Christian and I think he was right. Seriously, I don't know one believer who hasn't had doubts, and who hasn't denied his faith in one way or another. What hypocrisy to shut the doors to someone who acknowledges the truth.

I'm very sorry this was your experience.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 02:33:40 UTC | #933816

Sample's Avatar Comment 27 by Sample

Be thankful they don't think you're made of wood.

In all seriousness, thank you for sharing your experience. Perhaps it was just one or two members "in charge" that made this choice? I wouldn't condemn the lot of them (and perhaps you aren't). I suspect in time a few will come around. Hang tough, you did your best. My hat is off to you.

Mike

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 03:07:28 UTC | #933820

HalfaMind's Avatar Comment 28 by HalfaMind

Pat on the back to Teresa for biting the bullet.

I think the reaction, unpleasant though it is, is surely partly down to the way she went. She could, for example, have confided to her "flock" that she'd lost her faith and felt ethically unable to carry on, explained her dilemma and what she was going to do. And that might have been relatively anodyne: she might have stayed in the community, become a counsellor or something, or she might have slipped quietly away.

What she did was somewhat different and harder for them to swallow. By all accounts, the first they knew was that Teresa was standing on the podium in the company of leading atheists, proud to be counted. So all the venom is probably an emotional reaction to this "betrayal", but it is, of course, not how they should have reacted.

Common humanity, untainted by religion, brainwashing or dogma, would be to see the person, support and respect and acknowledge the good she'd done. And if they are strong and secure in their belief, surely they should pity her and try to win her back "to save her soul"....? Maybe what they are betraying is their own doubt (or hypocrisy), and she has confronted them and challenged them to do as she has done.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 08:10:31 UTC | #933838

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 29 by Stafford Gordon

What an insubstantial thing is religion.

I for one would never shun someone because they were religious. Neither would I pursue the argument from non belief with a believer if asked not to do so, and I have most emphatically been asked to stop doing so on more than one occasion, and have complied with the request; why wouldn't I?

Perhaps being "a nice person" takes more than just professing a belief in God, maybe you have to work at it a bit harder than that.

Could it be that some individuals use religion as a front to hide prejudices and "naughty thoughts", or at least to shed or confess them once every week whilst wearing posh frocks?

Anyway, at least Teresa Macbain now knows who her true friends are in the real world.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 10:17:05 UTC | #933853

BenS's Avatar Comment 30 by BenS

Comment 21 by caseyg5 :

@Ben S, You are much too harsh on Teresa.

I don't believe I am.

Suppose you were a true believer for many years and slowly over time you began to have doubts about some of the things you were promoting because you began to realize that they were inherently flawed. I wonder how many employees of business out there would continue to be able to work knowing that products are cheap, badly designed, "strangely" break down after the warranty expires, etc., and expressing their objections? Does this make them frauds and phonies because they are hanging on to an income that feeds their families? By your thinking most of the world population working for employers could be labeled frauds for promoting products that have problems. I worked for a place that had product issues and it would officially lie about them. They weren't harmful problems, just quality ones. If I spoke out, I hit the streets. Food goes, housing goes. The company goes on. Who's screwed? Me!

A long winded way of saying your personal integrity has a price and that price is the effort of finding a new job.

Teresa didn't begin knowing that church teachings were full of it but evolved into it due to her brain actually working and examining facts from the inside of the company. Aren't whistleblowers honored now whereas once they were a pariah?

Whistleblowers are protected where they're blowing the whistle on a company that's doing something illegal - this is nothing like that at all.

Teresa lied to these people every week. Best I can see, when she did come clean it wasn't to the church, it was at a public event - which is the first they heard of her lack of belief. I'm not even remotely surprised they feel betrayed - they WERE betrayed.

How about if someone ran a writing group and week in, week out gave the impression they were a published author and dished out writing tips and advice to an attentive group - and then one day the group sees the group leader on TV crowing about how they're not really an author and don't believe all the shit they spoonfeeding the group. Or if a martial arts instructor is seen by his students on an internet page stating that he's not really a martial artist and those movements he's teaching aren't Wing Chun they're just things he saw on a Rosemary Conley yoga DVD. In either case would you expect the group to welcome them back with open arms?

Of course not.

Saying "But, I thought we were friends!" just seems laughable. If they were your friends, you wouldn't lie solidly to them every week.

Religious types get lambasted on these forums all the time for "Lying for Jesus", whether it's telling lies about atheists, about their own beliefs or even answering questions on evolutionary exam papers with the correct answer that they don't believe in. Why is it reprehensible for the religious to lie to atheists but acceptable for an atheist to lie to the religious?

It isn't. It smacks of double standards to me and I have no qualms saying so.

Wed, 11 Apr 2012 12:59:45 UTC | #933872