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← From Minister To Atheist: A Story Of Losing Faith

From Minister To Atheist: A Story Of Losing Faith - Comments

CJHefford's Avatar Comment 1 by CJHefford

What a fantastic story. She is so brave to take such a big step towards being free of a false life, even though she knows there will be repercussions.

I also have to commend her husband. He's a religious man who still believes in God, but he respects her right not to believe. That's what true love is all about. God isn't needed for love.

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 21:24:40 UTC | #938468

Sliver69's Avatar Comment 2 by Sliver69

I'm currently an active pastor and I'm also an atheist," she says. "I live a double life. I feel pretty good on Monday, but by Thursday — when Sunday's right around the corner — I start having stomachaches, headaches, just knowing that I got to stand up and say things that I no longer believe in and portray myself in a way that's totally false.

Quit being a pastor, problem solved. If people resent you for becoming an atheist and no longer want to be around you, they were not true friends anyway. Coming out means closing the door behind you and moving on with your life.

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 21:34:03 UTC | #938470

Quine's Avatar Comment 3 by Quine

Once again, I salute Teresa for her courage. I am glad to see that NPR has picked up her story so it will go national. More and more clergy who are in the situation she was in, are going to find out about the Clergy Project. All for the better.

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 21:41:25 UTC | #938473

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 4 by Katy Cordeth

Before this thread turns into a massive love-in for Ms MacBain, can I just ask if anyone else here thinks that this is a rather cruddy way for someone to deal with an issue like this?

This lady says that she's an atheist. Not an agnostic; not having doubts about her calling: an atheist. As such, she should have resigned her post as soon as she realised she was one. To do otherwise shows a lack of respect for those she ministered to and who paid her salary. Because as much as we in the atheist 'community' may decry the people who attend churches, we're being disingenuous if we deny that the relationship between them and their pastors can have enormous significance in their lives.

She says that she prays for the sick when she knows her prayers will be useless. Well, how will the family members of these people feel if their loved ones die and they discover that the individual they trusted to implore God's mercy on their behalf was faking it? Will they spend the rest of their lives blaming themselves for being taken in by a huckster?

Teresa MacBain has a secret, one she's terrified to reveal.

Well, she wasn't so terrified that she couldn't go on National Public Radio and speak at an atheists' convention.

We're all human and allowed to screw things up. I just think it's wrong to hold someone up as a paragon when all they seem to me to be is a bit attention-seeking and thoughtless.

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 22:45:22 UTC | #938482

Roedy's Avatar Comment 5 by Roedy

Surely nearly all ministers are closet atheists. They know perfectly well the reassurance they offer in the name of their religion is bogus. They know perfectly well the prayers they offer are useless except to give the flock false reassurance. They know perfectly well how they manipulate the flock to give them not god, money. They know the tricks of the trade, and how their colleagues are without conscience in the way the milk the flock. They are the magicians. They know what they do is just an illusion.

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 22:46:02 UTC | #938485

RClark1's Avatar Comment 6 by RClark1

Hey Theresa! We're all we've got!! Are you getting the support you need?

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 22:57:18 UTC | #938490

RClark1's Avatar Comment 7 by RClark1

Theresa, are you OK? I was a Certified Lay Minister in the United Methodist Church...

Mon, 30 Apr 2012 23:27:38 UTC | #938496

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 8 by Alternative Carpark

What took her so long?

Can't people like Theresa get re-skilled and find jobs as social workers, or something?

Tue, 01 May 2012 00:53:28 UTC | #938516

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 9 by Andrew B.

Re: Comment 2 by Sliver69 and Comment 4 by katy Cordeth

-Do you have any idea how difficult it is to start over with new friends and a new life, let alone find a new job and acquire new job skills later in life? I find your comments to be unimaginative and rather foolish. Put yourself in her place and see if you get a better idea of what she is going through before you just say something so profoundly naive as "well stop being everything you've become over the last several decades and start over from scratch. There, problem solved!"

Tue, 01 May 2012 01:38:43 UTC | #938523

squeegee's Avatar Comment 10 by squeegee

Before this thread turns into a massive love-in for Ms MacBain, can I just ask if anyone else here thinks that this is a rather cruddy way for someone to deal with an issue like this? This lady says that she's an atheist. Not an agnostic; not having doubts about her calling: an atheist. As such, she should have resigned her post as soon as she realised she was one. To do otherwise shows a lack of respect for those she ministered to and who paid her salary. Because as much as we in the atheist 'community' may decry the people who attend churches, we're being disingenuous if we deny that the relationship between them and their pastors can have enormous significance in their lives. She says that she prays for the sick when she knows her prayers will be useless. Well, how will the family members of these people feel if their loved ones die and they discover that the individual they trusted to implore God's mercy on their behalf was faking it? Will they spend the rest of their lives blaming themselves for being taken in by a huckster?

I think this is a bit harsh. If Theresa lived in another secular country other than the USA [and the south to boot] I would say you possibly have a point. Reading the article it's clear she struggled with her consience over the issues you point out and came through with flying colours in my opinion. Praying and receiving a church salary while working through her atheism is hardly something to condemn..... she'd already given the church half her life...I for one have no problem if she received a few extra dollars from this institution while waiting for her "eureka" moment. As for the suggestion of fraudulant prayer surely that's a victimless "crime"? Yes I'm sure some people were horrified to discover prayers for their sick loved ones were muttered from a non believer but if they wish to believe that prayer works, despite the evidence, [pacebo cases aside] then that is their problem. People need a bit of leeway when changing world views. They need time to adjust and make sure that what they're going through is real. To do what she did in the southern states of America is a rare feat and one that hopefully will soon be commonplace.

Tue, 01 May 2012 01:56:23 UTC | #938527

squeegee's Avatar Comment 11 by squeegee

On a side note, Teresa's family dynamics must be interesting...her husband supports her while he himself believes in God....a rare breed in that part of the world I would imagine so hats off to him I say!

If the tables were turned and my wife came home and announced she had found "The Lord" , I'd be packing my bags and getting the property settlement done in record time.

Tue, 01 May 2012 02:13:35 UTC | #938534

Quine's Avatar Comment 12 by Quine

Re Comment 11 by squeegee, I have had to explain to women that the experience of being raised in a family where mom was Catholic and dad was Atheist means that I don't even go on a first date with theists.

Tue, 01 May 2012 02:58:34 UTC | #938549

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 13 by rod-the-farmer

Re comment 12 by Quine

My situation was similar, although my Dad was a Protestant who slowly lapsed over the years. I too would have never gone on even a first date with a theist. Well, I did once, but that was before I knew she was. Date number 2 vanished during the drive home after a movie, when she told me the Sun was not a star. Stars were different, and the Sun was OUR Sun. (Sound of the theme from The Twilight Zone.)

Tue, 01 May 2012 09:25:29 UTC | #938606

Michael Gray's Avatar Comment 14 by Michael Gray

This is an issue that the Aspie Spock's of this world struggle to comprehend. I know, I am one of them. And I imagine that so are more than a few of the responders here. You know who you are.

And I contend that it is not fair to judge a neurotypical individual by "our" different ethical standards.

Tue, 01 May 2012 11:41:50 UTC | #938627

Quine's Avatar Comment 15 by Quine

From reading many of the comments on the NPR page, and from #4 above, it seems many did not understand the sequence of events. Teresa became troubled with doubts that over time washed away her faith. This happens often, and some ministers just leave the same way ordinary people stop coming to church. However, because it is a job and walking away means a major life change, many ministers hang in for some time to make sure faith is not coming back. Some may be hypocrites, but some may also be trying not to make a big mistake.

Teresa knew she was sure when she summoned up the courage to get up in front of us and tell us her real name. Listening to her at the time, I got the impression that she intended to go back to Florida and exit her job. Perhaps she was wrong to think that she would get to tell her governing board before the news leaked out. However, when she was at AACon, she did not have the option of going back in time to set things in proper motion; it was just happening as it was happening. Unfortunately, I think that caused some of the folks back in Florida to think that she had intended to come back and keep the secret so as to keep getting paid. The relief of not having to go back and preach what she did not believe was so clear in what she said, that I cannot believe she was going back to continue that job.

Tue, 01 May 2012 14:52:14 UTC | #938688

Sliver69's Avatar Comment 16 by Sliver69

          [Andrew B.]         :


                 Re: Comment 2 by Sliver69 and Comment 4 by katy Cordeth-Do you have any idea how difficult it is to start over with new friends and a new life, let alone find a new job and acquire new job skills later in life?  I find your comments to be unimaginative and rather foolish.  Put yourself in her place and see if you get a better idea of what she is going through before you just say something so profoundly naive as "well stop being everything you've become over the last several decades and start over from scratch.  There, problem solved!"

Yes I do know how difficult it is to start over with new friends and a new life and a new job because I've had to do it. I did put myself in her place and from my own experience of a similar situation I gave my honest response, I stand by that response 100%.

Maybe you should be less judgemental of others before you start going on a moral crusade against people like me, who you clearly know nothing about but have the arrogance to assume things about me none the less.

Lots of Love Sliver69

Tue, 01 May 2012 17:04:37 UTC | #938735

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 17 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Tue, 01 May 2012 18:42:12 UTC | #938764

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 18 by Andrew B.

Comment 16 by Sliver69 :

      [Andrew B.]         : Re: Comment 2 by Sliver69 and Comment 4 by katy Cordeth-Do you have any idea how difficult it is to start over with new friends and a new life, let alone find a new job and acquire new job skills later in life?  I find your comments to be unimaginative and rather foolish.  Put yourself in her place and see if you get a better idea of what she is going through before you just say something so profoundly naive as "well stop being everything you've become over the last several decades and start over from scratch.  There, problem solved!"

Yes I do know how difficult it is to start over with new friends and a new life and a new job because I've had to do it. I did put myself in her place and from my own experience of a similar situation I gave my honest response, I stand by that response 100%.

Maybe you should be less judgemental of others before you start going on a moral crusade against people like me, who you clearly know nothing about but have the arrogance to assume things about me none the less.

Lots of Love Sliver69

Then you should have known better and should have offered some of your helpful thoughts instead of simply telling her to "quit being a pastor. Problem solved." The fact that you've gone through similar experiences and still offer such a trite response to her predicament paints you worse than if you were merely ignorant. It shows that, despite understanding her situation better than most, you learned nothing from your experiences.

Tue, 01 May 2012 20:04:19 UTC | #938795

Sliver69's Avatar Comment 19 by Sliver69

Well Andrew B.

You are entitled to interpret my posts anyway you like. I respectfully disagree with how you are trying to paint me though.

Back on Topic, something that I feel I should have added in my first post is this. Living a lie like Teresa MacBain has been doing is not only asinine and hypocritical but also rather cowardly. These are not criticisms of her as a person but on her method of dealing with her predicament. I understand such a transistion is huge for many people and difficult. I just know from my own life that it's much less painful all around to act swiftly on such things. I always despair when I listen to homosexuals for example who lived in the closet for years/decades before having the courage to come out. Once out, they seem to say the same thing. They wished they'd done it years ago. Living a life of duplicity, you may think you are fooling people, but really you are only fooling yourself.

Tue, 01 May 2012 20:37:48 UTC | #938800

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 20 by Rich Wiltshir

A touching tale of compassion in the family, though I'm amazed at her husband's revealing comment 'god never forced anyone to believe'.

One point I should concede: athiesm doesn't say 'there is no god', it merely acknowledges there's no evidence for any of the thousands that have stalked our history.

I wish her well. She's obviously better off without the thugs who've shunned her because of her honesty.

Tue, 01 May 2012 23:33:07 UTC | #938844

squeegee's Avatar Comment 21 by squeegee

Back on Topic, something that I feel I should have added in my first post is this. Living a lie like Teresa MacBain has been doing is not only asinine and hypocritical but also rather cowardly. These are not criticisms of her as a person but on her method of dealing with her predicament. I understand such a transistion is huge for many people and difficult. I just know from my own life that it's much less painful all around to act swiftly on such things. I always despair when I listen to homosexuals for example who lived in the closet for years/decades before having the courage to come out. Once out, they seem to say the same thing. They wished they'd done it years ago. Living a life of duplicity, you may think you are fooling people, but really you are only fooling yourself.

I disagree, people are incredibly different in all aspects of life and the pace of changing ones world view is personal. You claim to be not criticising the person but rather the method of changing her life? What you're failing to grasp is the method we choose is a reflection of who we are, in other words, Teresa realised her atheism at the right time and pace for her.

Instead of describing her actions as cowardly or hypocritical or describe her transition as "living a lie" maybe you could take a step back, put yourself in her shoes and be a little more understanding and a little less judgemental.

What this woman has done [if I could paraphrase NASA] is not only a huge step in her life but ultimately....if we see a snowball effect.... a huge step for the human species.

Wed, 02 May 2012 02:32:35 UTC | #938921

JeffVader67's Avatar Comment 22 by JeffVader67

Comment 4 by Katy Cordeth Absolutely spot on!!

Wed, 02 May 2012 13:20:11 UTC | #939003

Quine's Avatar Comment 23 by Quine

At the NPR page there is piece about the response to the story. As predicted, the religious are not so nice about this one. Consider putting in a comment of support for Teresa, yourself, at NPR.

Wed, 02 May 2012 19:23:58 UTC | #939107

Deluno's Avatar Comment 24 by Deluno

I'm pleased to see this attention to case studies of individuals who have overcome religious infection. Clues to the best ways of helping others to free themselves of this mind trap are surely in investigating the thoughts and realisations critical to this process.

Sat, 05 May 2012 15:49:57 UTC | #939913