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Sidebar: Pastor’s loss of faith started with loss of hell - Comments

squeegee's Avatar Comment 1 by squeegee

These ex clergy are my new heroes. I would like to think that I'd have the strength to come out if I was in their position but I'm honestly not sure especially if I lived in the deep south. Given all they have to lose...job, money, identity, family etc these guys are brave naked apes indeed!

Tue, 01 May 2012 04:02:18 UTC | #938564

prietenul's Avatar Comment 2 by prietenul

Yes, their courage is incredible. I wonder how prone they are to a relapse. Considering how long it took them to arrive at this point, maybe coming out is a point of no return. Mr. Dewitt's voice, the cadence of his speech, he seems a preacher through and through. Will he ever lose that style of speech? I can see why it might be hypnotic to a true believer, but it rubs me a little the wrong way. I wish him well.

Tue, 01 May 2012 05:56:13 UTC | #938579

Quine's Avatar Comment 3 by Quine

Well, you can take the guy out of preacherdom, but you can't take the preacher out of the guy. I was there, and at the time I, while I enjoyed the theater of his style, had to admit that a philosophy of "loving truth, and loving people" is very hard to argue against.

Tue, 01 May 2012 06:33:59 UTC | #938582

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 4 by justinesaracen

One thing I've noticed, these ex-preachers are all good public speakers. At least on skill that is transferable.

Tue, 01 May 2012 08:12:07 UTC | #938593

sbooder's Avatar Comment 5 by sbooder

Although I admire the bravery of this man and others who have done the same, I find the preaching style too brash for my reserved English palate. I have never liked preaching, and like it even less within the realms of non belief.

Just a personal view, I do not want to detract from what I am sure is the good work he and his fellow apostates are doing.

Tue, 01 May 2012 08:19:11 UTC | #938594

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 6 by TheRationalizer

I wish atheists wouldn't use logos and other forms of symbolism. The whole point is that we are all individuals, free to find our own ways, and free to think what we like. When we start "congregating" under symbols we start to look like a cult.

Tue, 01 May 2012 08:58:39 UTC | #938598

Explorer's Avatar Comment 7 by Explorer

We are social animals, and if we share an interest in real change, as far as relgious belief is concerned, then we do it better together. There is no point in denying our herd and tribal instincts. If the relgious call our non-belief a religion in itself, or a cult, then we have to deal with that as and when. "New" atheism, if it is anything, is a movement and a force for change. As a disparate group of individuals, which has characterised atheism in the past, we cannot hope to make any meaningful change.

Tue, 01 May 2012 10:23:05 UTC | #938613

CJHefford's Avatar Comment 8 by CJHefford

Comment 6 by TheRationalizer :

I wish atheists wouldn't use logos and other forms of symbolism. The whole point is that we are all individuals, free to find our own ways, and free to think what we like. When we start "congregating" under symbols we start to look like a cult.

I disagree, the only way we will make the masses realise that atheists are large in numbers, found in every corner of the world, is to unite and organise. A symbol doesn't mean we're a cult. My employer has a symbol, but it is not a cult. My astronomy club has a symbol, but it is not a cult.

The preaching style could be misinterpreted as a cult style approach and is something we should be weary of, but at no point should we shy away from showing our numbers are growing and that we, as atheists, are as much a community as any religion.

Tue, 01 May 2012 11:30:58 UTC | #938624

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 9 by QuestioningKat

Comment 6 by TheRationalizer :

I wish atheists wouldn't use logos and other forms of symbolism.

logos are OK, but this logo projected on the back wall makes the room looks like a scientology church.

Although I admire the bravery of this man and others who have done the same, I find the preaching style too brash for my reserved English palate. I have never liked preaching, and like it even less within the realms of non belief.

It's too dramatic for my northern American palate also. It makes a fun show, but it will get old soon. In time, he will learn to tone it down.

I can relate to his God is love, God saves everybody, God is our internal voice... I went down this road starting in my thirties after my traditional views of Christianity/Bible crashed down at 18. I now realize that these new age views of Christianity are "evolved" apologetics. They realized that the traditional views could not be true for rational reasons, yet they attempt to solve the gap by creating new stories and explanations provided by other religions, metaphor, symbolism, making assumptions, etc. To the curious, open minded, and unquestioning, these explanations "make sense" until you sift through the ideology one-by-one and get to the core beliefs; they too crash down.

Tue, 01 May 2012 11:35:35 UTC | #938625

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 10 by Michael Gray

Comment 6 by TheRationalizer :

... The whole point is that we are all individuals

I'm not!

Tue, 01 May 2012 12:01:47 UTC | #938634

Alan Canon's Avatar Comment 11 by Alan Canon

DeWitt's style will doubtless speak to many. I'm not sure I would have every atheist speak the way he does, but I'm very glad we have Jerry as a "type specimen." His southern preaching style is evidence that reason and rationality are not bound to, nor beyond the reach of, any particular type of American culture. Personally, having been subjected to an enormous amount of Christian preaching along the same vein as Jerry's preaching style when I was a Christian myself, I draw enormous comfort from listening to the man tell his story the way he does, and find my self mentally cheering him on as I listen.

Tue, 01 May 2012 14:20:44 UTC | #938678

Anvil's Avatar Comment 12 by Anvil

Comment 10 by Michael Gray

Comment 6 by TheRationalizer :

... The whole point is that we are all individuals

I'm not!

I'm with him on this!

Anvil.

Tue, 01 May 2012 17:32:49 UTC | #938743

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 13 by ZenDruid

Ex-preacher? Here's an ex-preacher...

Tue, 01 May 2012 18:07:42 UTC | #938753

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 14 by gr8hands

Sam Kinison used to be an evangelist.

Tue, 01 May 2012 19:28:01 UTC | #938778

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 15 by gr8hands

Ah, ZenDruid, you beat me to it (I didn't see your post.)

Tue, 01 May 2012 19:28:42 UTC | #938779

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 16 by ZenDruid

Warped minds think alike...;)

Tue, 01 May 2012 19:37:11 UTC | #938780

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 17 by Katy Cordeth

Just what is it with these people and the way they choose to announce their atheism to the world? Teresa MacBain, this DeWitt guy. Stop coming out at atheist conventions and on public radio and by posting pictures of yourselves with Richard Dawkins. Don't you get it? It makes you look like assholes.

Here's how you do it: you speak to your superior in whichever church you belong to - the dude who signs your paycheck - and you offer your notice. Then, at the next service at which you officiate, you announce to your congregation that you'll no longer be ministering to them. You can choose to tell them the real reason or you can just say it's on personal grounds; it doesn't matter at all. Then and only then do you get to embark on your new life as an out-and-proud atheist.

To go about it in any other way shows a profound contempt for those people you've had a relationship with for all these years. That's what the hate mail and the ostracisation is about: not the loss of faith but the lack of respect.

To come out by posting a picture on a social networking site is just horrible, and reminds me of the old urban legend about the couple whose house is burglarised and everything is taken apart from an expensive camera. On developing the film some time later they discover the burglars have taken photographs of themselves with the couple's toothbrushes inserted into their...fundaments.

Part of me actually wonders if this tactic - the coming-out method, not the toothbrush thing - is a deliberate and passive-aggressive snub from these guys to their congregations; a way of burning bridges.

I don't really care. My sympathies are entirely with the poor bastards who have been made to feel stupid and betrayed.

Sorry for ranting.

Tue, 01 May 2012 22:29:31 UTC | #938824

sbooder's Avatar Comment 18 by sbooder

I am with theRationalizer here. I am not a member of any Atheist group and have no desire to be so. I too dislike atheist symbolism and do not find a need for these gatherings and church like events. It comes down to how you view your lack of belief? Are you against religion or pro Atheist?

The problem with movements is they go too far (to paraphrase Bertrand Russell). They become sidelined by group agenda. I find the united voice of the internet, with no need to be a member of anything more than a forum or running your own blog much more effective and without becoming tribal or affected.

You only have to read the comments on this site to see how many topics on this forum contain disagreements (like this one) to know it is a good place to be, and how it shows us to be individuals and not a movement.

Plus, I do not want a group speaking for me. I speak for me, no body else dose.

I must state though, that if others want meetings and events, that is their prerogative and I have no beef with them doing so, it is just not for me.

Wed, 02 May 2012 06:25:18 UTC | #938943

JeffVader67's Avatar Comment 19 by JeffVader67

Comment 17 by Katy. Absolutely spot on, I couldn't agree more.

The problem that many ministers have, is that they are in a vocation and have to live the life 24/7. Even if you've had had the most awful day you can't relax as any minute the phone could ring requiring you to go to the hospital to minister to old "Mrs Smith" a stalwart of your congregation.

I have never seen being a minister as an easy life as many on this board suggest, and instead see long hours, poor pay, and all the politics and troubles of dealing with human beings. It must be exhausting.

By the way you're not ranting!!!

Wed, 02 May 2012 08:34:44 UTC | #938961

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 20 by Alan4discussion

Comment 17 by katy Cordeth

Here's how you do it: you speak to your superior in whichever church you belong to - the dude who signs your paycheck - and you offer your notice. Then, at the next service at which you officiate, you announce to your congregation that you'll no longer be ministering to them. You can choose to tell them the real reason or you can just say it's on personal grounds; it doesn't matter at all. Then and only then do you get to embark on your new life as an out-and-proud atheist.

Just slip away quietly and don't rock the boat with unpleasant truths??
I wonder how we regard messed up company directors and bankers who use this approach?
Perhaps some research scientist who has discovered nasty side-effects of some widely marketed medicine his company is producing? - Don't bother people with the truth! It might upset them!
I believe there was a ship's captain recently, who had everyone informed for hours that things were under control and there was no need to worry, - before he nipped off in a life-boat as the ship sank!.

To go about it in any other way shows a profound contempt for those people you've had a relationship with for all these years. That's what the hate mail and the ostracisation is about: not the loss of faith but the lack of respect.

Really! A leader telling people they have been mistaken and the leader is sorry for misleading those who trusted him/her, - is in some way reprehensible? Better sneak off quietly and and leave them to the woo-mongers?!?
I can see that it would be better to inform the people first, but in view of evangelical determination, there is every chance the information would be suppressed, or that the pastor would be prevented from addressing the congregation.

I don't really care. My sympathies are entirely with the poor bastards who have been made to feel stupid and betrayed.

I can see how that works! Let the betrayal continue, with those who are being stupidly betrayed remaining in ignorance of the fact! - In the case of the ship's passengers, - while they drowned! (OOOOooH! Those intrusive facts! so upsetting to the trusting & deluded.)

The product is rubbish and the leaders of the sales teams dishonest. Recognise reality.

Wed, 02 May 2012 09:16:00 UTC | #938965

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 19 by JeffVader67

The problem that many ministers have, is that they are in a vocation and have to live the life 24/7. Even if you've had had the most awful day you can't relax as any minute the phone could ring requiring you to go to the hospital to minister to old "Mrs Smith" a stalwart of your congregation.

Which they chose.

I have never seen being a minister as an easy life as many on this board suggest, and instead see long hours, poor pay, and all the politics and troubles of dealing with human beings. It must be exhausting.

Last nights documentary on BBC1 put paid to that idea...at least for those clerics in the Irish RCC.

Wed, 02 May 2012 09:50:28 UTC | #938966

Anvil's Avatar Comment 22 by Anvil

Jump to comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

Last nights documentary on BBC1 put paid to that idea...at least for those clerics in the Irish RCC.

Missed that, mate. Does it have a title? I'll grab it on iPlayer.

Anvil.

Wed, 02 May 2012 10:15:43 UTC | #938971

Anvil's Avatar Comment 23 by Anvil

Got it.

For those in the rest of the UK:

This World. - The Shame of the Catholic Church.

Showing tonight: Wednesday 2nd May 21:00 BBC HD & BBC 2.

(And repeated Sat 5 May 2012 00:25 BBC HD.)

Anvil.

EDIT: Link Fixed (I think?)

Wed, 02 May 2012 10:31:44 UTC | #938973

sbooder's Avatar Comment 24 by sbooder

Surely this is how it should be done! Father Ted: The Bishops and Religion

Wed, 02 May 2012 10:36:54 UTC | #938974

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 25 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 22 by Anvil

Last nights documentary on BBC1 put paid to that idea...at least for those clerics in the Irish RCC.

Missed that, mate. Does it have a title? I'll grab it on iPlayer.

Sorry for slacking there for a moment Anvil....I stuck the links up last night over here.

Wed, 02 May 2012 11:53:35 UTC | #938986

Anvil's Avatar Comment 26 by Anvil

Comment 25 by Ignorant Amos

Sorry for slacking there for a moment Anvil....I stuck the links up last night over here.

Slacking? There must be sparks coming off that keyboard, mate!

More power to yer - it's appreciated.

Anvil.

Wed, 02 May 2012 12:06:49 UTC | #938989

JeffVader67's Avatar Comment 27 by JeffVader67

Comment 25 Ignorant Amos.

May I suggest you read Katy's comment 17 again, as she expressed perfectly how I feel about this issue.

In summary she made the excellent point that it wasn't the atheist coming out that was the problem, but the way they did it. Effectively spitting in the face of people who trusted them.

I appreciate ministers choose their vocation, but I wonder if some of them fail to appreciate just how hard it can be at times.

Wed, 02 May 2012 13:18:04 UTC | #939001

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 28 by Alan4discussion

Comment 27 by JeffVader67

In summary she made the excellent point that it wasn't the atheist coming out that was the problem, but the way they did it. Effectively spitting in the face of people who trusted them.

Since when was publicly stating that you have changed your mind on a topic, "spitting in some one's face"?

If Richard were to discover a mistake in one of his books and state publicly that his earlier view needed to be corrected in the light of new evidence, would that be "spitting in the face" of other biologists or readers of his books?
- Of course not scientists do this all the time!
It is mainly theists and apologists, who learn nothing, cover-up, and decide to be offended by honest statements of facts.

Perhaps you should have considered the ex-pastors need for personal support and advice from others in a similar position, - given the tendencies of religious groups to manipulate sheeples (including family members) to launch personal attacks on apostates and dissenters.

There are no easy answers on how to exit from such a situation.

Wed, 02 May 2012 14:20:06 UTC | #939017

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 29 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 20 by Alan4discussion :

Comment 17 by katy Cordeth

Here's how you do it: you speak to your superior in whichever church you belong to - the dude who signs your paycheck - and you offer your notice. Then, at the next service at which you officiate, you announce to your congregation that you'll no longer be ministering to them. You can choose to tell them the real reason or you can just say it's on personal grounds; it doesn't matter at all. Then and only then do you get to embark on your new life as an out-and-proud atheist.

Just slip away quietly and don't rock the boat with unpleasant truths?? I wonder how we regard messed up company directors and bankers who use this approach? Perhaps some research scientist who has discovered nasty side-effects of some widely marketed medicine his company is producing? - Don't bother people with the truth! It might upset them!....

The point I was making in the paragraph you quoted from was that Teresa MacBain and Jerry DeWitt did just slip away from their congregations rather than confronting them with the truth, so you seem to be supporting what I said despite the tone of your post.

However, I'll elaborate on what I meant when I said "it doesn't matter at all" if that's a help:

MacBain and Dewitt owed a duty of care to their parishioners as they both held a position of authority in these people's lives, just as if they had been their GPs, psychiatrists, lawyers, or even a parent.

So when they each came to the conclusion that their new-found atheism was incompatible with their careers and decided to quit the religious life, their first duty was to the people in their respective flocks.

Agreed?

If they had just quit their jobs, even without giving an explanation to those in their charge, then when they appeared on television or on facebook or on NPR wearing the big A, their parishioners' reactions, even if they were outraged and hurt, would have been mitigated by the knowledge that at least their ministers had had the decency to speak to them first, even if they hadn't been given the whole story.

To go about it in any other way shows a profound contempt for those people you've had a relationship with for all these years. That's what the hate mail and the ostracisation is about: not the loss of faith but the lack of respect.

Really! A leader telling people they have been mistaken and the leader is sorry for misleading those who trusted him/her, - is in some way reprehensible? Better sneak off quietly and and leave them to the woo-mongers?!? I can see that it would be better to inform the people first, but in view of evangelical determination, there is every chance the information would be suppressed, or that the pastor would be prevented from addressing the congregation.

I don't really care. My sympathies are entirely with the poor bastards who have been made to feel stupid and betrayed.

I can see how that works! Let the betrayal continue, with those who are being stupidly betrayed remaining in ignorance of the fact! - In the case of the ship's passengers, - while they drowned! (OOOOooH! Those intrusive facts! so upsetting to the trusting & deluded.)

I really must learn how to express myself more clearly if what you got from my comment was the exact opposite of what I was saying.

Again, thanks for supporting everything I said in my post. Even if you did so inadvertently.

PS:

The product is rubbish and the leaders of the sales teams dishonest. Recognise reality.

I don't want to. It makes my soul hurt.

Wed, 02 May 2012 21:12:43 UTC | #939142

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 30 by Alan4discussion

Comment 29 by katy Cordeth

The product is rubbish and the leaders of the sales teams dishonest. Recognise reality.

I don't want to. It makes my soul hurt.

That does seem to be the basis of your argument.

When dealing with people who likely to misrepresent what you are saying, reading a prepared public statement is a good way of informing everyone concerned, without giving opportunities for distortion by gossips, or pre-emptive misrepresentations by those with personal agendas.

As I said @28 - There are no easy answers on how to exit from such a situation, and "one size" definitely does not fit all.

Wed, 02 May 2012 22:17:33 UTC | #939171