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

← Church pastors become atheists

Church pastors become atheists - Comments

Eternal Wind's Avatar Comment 1 by Eternal Wind

Hmm, I wonder what ex-pastors could do for a living. Kudos to Mike Aus for going public though, that kind of thing took guts.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 04:26:56 UTC | #946982

Sample's Avatar Comment 2 by Sample

My irony meter went tilt when the newscaster said, ..."Church pastors going public as atheists, it sounds unbelievable." No, the unbelievable bits are found in churches.

Mike

P.S. if you google "tilt" the entire page becomes tilted.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 05:27:27 UTC | #946986

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 3 by strangebrew

OP

"I'm sure there are many pastors actively serving in churches who are going through a faith crisis and have lost their faith, but they haven't left because it's their livelihood," said Jenkins. "But they need to move on. They don't need to stay with a church and use their position as a pastor with sacred trust to try and take others with them."

That is their real fear...right there!

No mention of help or advice about how to move on you notice!

Just the selfish and egocentric issues of the church take precedence.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 06:54:48 UTC | #946994

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 4 by drumdaddy

The empty little haircut who presents the 'news' story states that Mike's leaving the church "sounds unbelievable". I find it easier to believe than dead people healing sick people, than ancient flesh arising in wafers, or than fabulous sex lives with scores of virgins after death. Men and women tiring of cults and leaving them is an eminently 'believable' situation, and one with lots of evidence. Believe you me.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 07:38:06 UTC | #947004

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 5 by mordacious1

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of ministers. If a thousand leave, there will be ten thousand lining up to take their place (with the exception of catholicism).

To answer what these people can now do for a living, I would suggest used car sales person, maybe selling Amway products, or perhaps working with non-profits (or non-prophets) to help people in need (since many were driven to the ministry to help their fellow humans). Also they may have many skills that are useful, fundraising, public speaking, and organizing (just to name a few).

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 08:18:54 UTC | #947009

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 6 by Katy Cordeth

"When a pastor comes forward and says, 'I don't believe anymore,' it rocks their world," said Dr. Keith Jenkins, a Methodist pastor and former president of the Houston Graduate School of Theology. "Members see pastors as spiritual super heroes."

Jenkins said many church leaders question and then lose their faith, but never before has it been a public phenomenon.

"It's almost gone viral," said Jenkins.

The website www.clergyproject.com has become a confidential gathering group for pastors, ministers and other church leaders who no longer believe in God. The group said it has more than 240 members. Some like Aus have gone public. Most other church leaders in that group have kept their new lack of belief hidden from others, including their congregations. They are secret atheists still serving churches and ministering to members even though they don't believe in what they preach anymore.

"I'm sure there are many pastors actively serving in churches who are going through a faith crisis and have lost their faith, but they haven't left because it's their livelihood," said Jenkins. "But they need to move on. They don't need to stay with a church and use their position as a pastor with sacred trust to try and take others with them."

The spiritual superhero Pastor Jenkins has hit on a problem that I have with the Clergy Project, that it seems to be targeting the wrong people. To employ a Godwinny analogy, suppose you're a member of a Polish resistance unit during WWII. You're approached by a mid-ranking German guard who has been assigned to one of the satellite camps of Auschwitz for some time. He's seen what goes on there and is appalled by it and has become disillusioned both with Der Führer and with Nazism. He wants to quit but is naturally afraid what the consequences will be to his own life. No more snazzy uniform with which to impress the fräuleins at the local tavern; no pension; scheissenfärten, no job even!

Do you, as a resistance member, say to him "It's all right Hans, we'll get you away from that terrible place and on a plane to merry old England before nightfall, where it'll be tea and crumpets with Churchill and Noël Coward at the Savoy"? Or do you say "Get your Nazi ass back to that camp and between us we'll try and come up with a plan to liberate its inhabitants"?

I suppose what I'm suggesting is that some of these new converts to atheism could be persuaded to remain at their posts and act as fifth columnists, and as the modest Dr. Keith suggests "try to take others with them". That way they could still enjoy the privilege they've no doubt become accustomed to: primo parking spots, grace-and-favour accommodation, first dibs on newly arrived divorcées etc. They wouldn't have to worry about where their next meal was coming from or where they'd be laying their head the following night.

In the case of Mike Aus, his 80-strong congregation broke up a few weeks after his story broke (why does that make me feel sad?), but I imagine in most cases the pastor in question is quickly replaced and everything returns to the status quo ante. The Clergy Project just seems to be squandering some valuable assets.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 09:20:48 UTC | #947020

PERSON's Avatar Comment 7 by PERSON

Comment 3 by strangebrew

Exactly. The report was very unsympathetic to the problems the pastors face having started out honestly then drifted to a forced dishonesty. It didn't deal with the forces stopping them from just leaving.

mordacious1 said:

selling Amway products

AmWay, I understand, is rather cultish.

http://www.amazon.com/Amway-The-Cult-Free-Enterprise/dp/0896082539

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amway#Other_issues

http://www.cocs.com/jhoagland/amcult.html

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 09:49:27 UTC | #947023

Daryl 's Avatar Comment 8 by Daryl

It takes enormous courage. Look at how the orthodox communities close ranks when someone is "outed" as a molester or similar. The "stoolie" is treated as a pariah. These clergy folks are losing their communities AND their jobs. With no real training for anything else, they have to face the rest of their lives in a way they never thought. And I'll bet the divorce rate is huge.

Job/community/family. Sometimes facing the truth enacts a very large toll.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 12:04:28 UTC | #947034

Sara's Avatar Comment 9 by Sara

Comment 6 by katy Cordeth :

I suppose what I'm suggesting is that some of these new converts to atheism could be persuaded to remain at their posts and act as fifth columnists, and as the modest Dr. Keith suggests "try to take others with them". That way they could still enjoy the privilege they've no doubt become accustomed to: primo parking spots, grace-and-favour accommodation, first dibs on newly arrived divorcées etc. They wouldn't have to worry about where their next meal was coming from or where they'd be laying their head the following night.

You'd think churches would try to root out atheist pastors to prevent them from taking others with them. I doubt this will happen. Church leadership doesn't want to know.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 12:11:52 UTC | #947035

papa lazaru's Avatar Comment 10 by papa lazaru

"It... rocks their world".

More of that please!

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 12:25:05 UTC | #947037

Jessica Wise's Avatar Comment 11 by Jessica Wise

...I wonder what ex-pastors could do for a living.

I'm not an American and I don't have children, but if I was I'd be trying to start a movement among sceptics to hire these people as teachers in secular private schools and summer camps...

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 12:35:51 UTC | #947039

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 12 by rod-the-farmer

The most interesting part of the story was that once he came out, his old church closed. Progress ! I wonder how many of the congregation will then say "You know, there are lots of things I could do on a Sunday if I don't have to sit on a hardwood pew for two hours."

The second most interesting part was that lots of congregations will now be starting to doubt that their cleric/minister will be among those losing their faith, and that he/she has just not come out yet.

Divide & conquer, to coin a phrase. Or, sowing dissension in the ranks. Too bad the announcer could not get the web site straight. Dot ORG, not dot COM.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 12:36:59 UTC | #947040

78rpm's Avatar Comment 13 by 78rpm

The whole Clergy Project is a beautiful thing, and this example especially, seeing as how it is taking place in Houston, TEXAS. I have great respect for Mr. Aus. (In German aus means "OUT.")

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 13:25:14 UTC | #947043

bluebird's Avatar Comment 14 by bluebird

...hire these people as teachers in...summer camps

By George, that's IT! Camp Quest is just starting its 2012 camp season ~ link text

.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 16:41:27 UTC | #947073

rongrimes's Avatar Comment 15 by rongrimes

I am a-theist... always have been. However, I recognise the valuable role local churches play in our communities. The problem for me is the glue - the dogma that holds them together, and in this I am like most people on this forum.

But I see the clergy as having a lot of value and, for me, even more value as they cast off the obsolete beliefs of past times. There's a very important job for them to do in the community. Dogma is not related to the fact we need good caring communities, a common meeting place, somewhere to focus our issues and support. These are things all traditionally done by churches (synagogoues, temples...)

So I say to the clergy who are having a crisis of faith (with teeth clutching tongue):

   GET BACK TO WORK!

We need you to (re)build our communities. And I suspect you may have an easier job of it without the old baggage.

Yeah, I know this is easy to say... the biggest problem is probably with the Church Franchisor Enterprise who still need to keep up pretences. Also old congregations have old expectations. Still, I believe there is common ground and we can build vibrant communities based on new shared values and needs.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 23:40:38 UTC | #947133

Quine's Avatar Comment 16 by Quine

Here are two things we should always try to keep apart in our discussions: the first is the failure of religion to deliver objective truth, and the second is an objection to the vision many people tend to have of their community without churches, and associated activities. The second leads folks to insist that religion must be true because "it works." Unfortunately they are not familiar with communities where services also "work" but are not associated with religion. When we are told that "it works" we must ask "Compared to what?" and ask ourselves, what are we willing to work to so that we have such alternatives for building communities through rational thinking instead of simply following a tradition of superstition.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 23:58:10 UTC | #947134

Sample's Avatar Comment 17 by Sample

Here are two things we should always try to keep apart in our discussions: the first is the failure of religion to deliver objective truth...Quine

These two talking points are great. Unfortunately, the first one can be a slog to defend because invariably one meets a philosopher and the concept of objectivity requires a thorough fleshing out. Can you think of a different way to frame it? Or, do I just need to learn the classics properly?

Mike

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 09:57:06 UTC | #947171

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 18 by All About Meme

I'd surmise that a flock of actual sheep would have clung together longer than the two weeks it took the faithful members of Theophilus church to "dissolve" after shepherd Mike Aus left.

Where was God in all of this? Couldn't God have imbued somebody, anybody, with the Holy Spirit, and persuaded them to step up to the plate in Aus's absence?

By contrast, a group of teenagers playing a weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons would have elected a new dungeon master within minutes.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 15:15:36 UTC | #947213

Spawny Rosary's Avatar Comment 19 by Spawny Rosary

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Fri, 15 Jun 2012 12:39:34 UTC | #947557