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Thread: Clergy who stop believing

  1. Top | #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    Are you familiar with The Clergy Project, a support group for those who have left the ministry. I've met Dan Barker a couple of times when he spoke at Atlanta Freethought, but it's been years. I think Dan is one of the most outspoken, former members of the clergy. Was his story in the book?

    https://clergyproject.org/former-believer-resources/

    When I was searching for the clergy project, I came across some crazy Christian site that thinks it must be the end times since so many members of the clergy are becoming agnostics and atheists. Maybe it's the end times for religion.
    I think Atheos is a member IIRC.

    Religion will still be around imo, which would perhaps be of a somewhat different nature as a majority mainstream than to that of Christianity that many are usually familiar with (Jesus and the Gospel narrative). Apparently a type that may be much more 'acceptably preferred & "tolerated",' meaning: This emerging religion must have the ability to be adaptable & adjustable, the facility to add new things like philosophies, even fashionable trends, as well as taking out old things like certain biblical narratives, which would then ... not have any conflict with that individuals' way of life - according to personal taste, so to speak

    An "Open-Source Religion," if you will.

    A One-World-Religion some people term it as. In a normal everyday discussion, all sorts (believers and non-believers), would no doubt have talked and are talking about this, simply out of personal interest & curiosity - not with the view/or putting aside the view of someone who is thinking to make an argument, for a religious debate etc.. BUT as a serious thought or pondering... like having ideas that 'ALL religions becoming one-religion ' may be a good thing in their eyes. A "united religion" which also comes with the topic as a good conversation to come about, simply by wondering and asking "where does religion go from here?" in the future to come.



    (No surprise that the bible agrees with the same, i.e., Christianity as we now know and knew then, may not be so much around visibly where it once was in the world. Similar to your take on the end of religion, the "End times for Christianity," I suppose would be how some like to see it)

    (Just remembered steve asked similar questions on his thread, 'what will replace religion?' This could be more suited for that thread)
    Last edited by Learner; 06-13-2021 at 03:40 PM. Reason: rephrases

  2. Top | #12
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    which also comes with the topic as a good conversation to come about, simply by wondering and asking "where does religion go from here?" in the future to come.
    Oops, pretty much repeated myself here.

  3. Top | #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Learner View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by southernhybrid View Post
    Are you familiar with The Clergy Project, a support group for those who have left the ministry. I've met Dan Barker a couple of times when he spoke at Atlanta Freethought, but it's been years. I think Dan is one of the most outspoken, former members of the clergy. Was his story in the book?

    https://clergyproject.org/former-believer-resources/

    When I was searching for the clergy project, I came across some crazy Christian site that thinks it must be the end times since so many members of the clergy are becoming agnostics and atheists. Maybe it's the end times for religion.
    I think Atheos is a member IIRC.

    Religion will still be around imo, which would perhaps be of a somewhat different nature as a majority mainstream than to that of Christianity that many are usually familiar with (Jesus and the Gospel narrative). Apparently a type that may be much more 'acceptably preferred & "tolerated",' meaning: This emerging religion must have the ability to be adaptable & adjustable, the facility to add new things like philosophies, even fashionable trends, as well as taking out old things like certain biblical narratives, which would then ... not have any conflict with that individuals' way of life - according to personal taste, so to speak

    An "Open-Source Religion," if you will.

    A One-World-Religion some people term it as. In a normal everyday discussion, all sorts (believers and non-believers), would no doubt have talked and are talking about this, simply out of personal interest & curiosity - not with the view/or putting aside the view of someone who is thinking to make an argument, for a religious debate etc.. BUT as a serious thought or pondering... like having ideas that 'ALL religions becoming one-religion ' may be a good thing in their eyes. A "united religion" which also comes with the topic as a good conversation to come about, simply by wondering and asking "where does religion go from here?" in the future to come.



    (No surprise that the bible agrees with the same, i.e., Christianity as we now know and knew then, may not be so much around visibly where it once was in the world. Similar to your take on the end of religion, the "End times for Christianity," I suppose would be how some like to see it)

    (Just remembered steve asked similar questions on his thread, 'what will replace religion?' This could be more suited for that thread)
    You did notice that I put a winking smiley after my statement, right? If not, I was just kidding when I said that it might be the end times of religion. I don't expect religion to go away, not as long as humans exist. My hope is that it becomes a lot more progressive and unitarian in nature. Of course, having viewed human nature for the many decades that I've been alive, that is probably just wishful thinking.

    The IRS considers secular humanism to be a religion, so maybe religions without gods will be the primary religions in the future. Or maybe they will be very individualistic, full of woo that each individual feels happy embracing. As long as it's not used to harm or divide, that's a good thing, imo.

    I'm not the type of atheist who hates religion. I only hate religions that insist that they have all the answers and/or condem those who don't agree with their beliefs. There is far too much hate in many versions of Christianity. I prefer religions that put charity and good works as their primary goal, not because they believe in heavenly rewards, but because imo, those are the things that make one a better person and help one live a better life.

    I assume that some of the non believing preachers found that there were some good moral lessons to be gained from staying in the church. Perhaps they loved their church communities and didn't want to abandon them.

    Years ago, IIDB had a Baptist minister member who was very liberal. More than half of his Atlanta church was made up of gay men. He went back to school to earn a doctorate degree and stopped posting here. I met him and his wife in person as he joined a small group of us in Atlanta once. As far as I know, he's no longer preaching. I don't know if he stopped believing or if he no longer was interested in church work.

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    Atheists pretending to be priests/clergy. Hmmm.

    ...I never did believe those artificially low 'atheists in prison' demographics either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Atheists pretending to be priests/clergy. Hmmm.

    ...I never did believe those artificially low 'atheists in prison' demographics either.
    It appears as if you have it backwards. These preachers weren't originally pretending to be Christians. They were Christian preachers who lost their beliefs and either left the church or stayed out of loyalty to their parishioners.

    Why do you find it so hard to believe that a lot of believers, including preachers, lose their beliefs? Most American atheists were raised as Christians, including myself.

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    Atheists masquerading as clergy.
    They have a word for that.
    And its not "doubt". It's not "apostasy". It's not "deconversion".

    It's called FRAUD.

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    I would really like to know what you really mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Atheists masquerading as clergy.
    They have a word for that.
    And its not "doubt". It's not "apostasy". It's not "deconversion".

    It's called FRAUD.
    So were all these people lying to themselves? Or are you suggesting that they just decided to live a fake life for 10-30 years, pretending, for other obscure/inexplicable reasons? Its not like most preachers become rich televangelists with private jets and luxury cars....

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    As Learner mentioned earlier I am a member of Clergy Project (and incidentally have been added to the board of directors this year).

    Lion IRC I understand the outrage you would feel as a believer thinking that someone would occupy a pulpit and accept a salary that way. I can only offer the perspective I have seen from dozens of my new companions who struggle with this very thing.

    First of all, most of those who came to the realization that they no longer believed in the god they had so rigorously defended in their youth did not make such a choice on purpose. They were convinced against their will. They were forced to give in to the evidence in spite of their best efforts to cling to their faith. It is no different from a physician trying to convince you that you have diabetes. It's easy to deny you have it for years unless you check your blood sugar regularly and accept the evidence. You don't get to choose what the truth is, truth is forced upon you by investigating irrational things until the solution becomes clear. And in the case of many religious leaders the truth forced them to come to terms with the fact that sacred beliefs they once held were just not true.

    But by then these professionals have often made a career in this field. They've started families. They have children who depend on them for food, clothing and shelter. Perhaps they have spouses and other family members who depend on them and their income as well.

    They desperately want out of the lie they're living. The very principles of honesty and decency that brought them to ministry in the first place eat at them every time they stand in the pulpit and deliver sermons. Their sermons tend to gravitate away from fundamentalism and doctrine. Instead they speak more of humanity, kindness, love and compassion: things they can still believe in whether or not they share a belief in the god they once held.

    A scientist can learn that he was wrong about a given theory and continue to be respected in the community. A politician can often change ideologies and remain effective and respected. Nearly any other profession one holds can be abandoned due to lack of interest or personal growth without loss of community respect. But a preacher who no longer believes in "god" is a social pariah in what once was his or her closest community. Few professions exact such a heavy personal toll for simply changing your mind after reviewing evidence.

    The Clergy Project has no interest in deconverting clergy. Their (our) primary interest is in assisting those who have reached this point in their lives in transitioning to a secular occupation and lifestyle. We provide a sympathetic community where people can talk freely about the struggles they endure as they attempt to effect this transition. We pool our money, time and resources into the TAG (Transition Assistance Grant) to help with career training and counseling. People are hurting and afraid. They feel like the whole world is on their shoulders, knowing that they have to keep up this awful façade for a bit longer so their children can eat.

    But in the end there is no disapproving god looking down at this vile fraudster with furrowed brow. God is an imaginary construct, no more capable personally of harming the unbelieving preacher than the tooth fairy. But just like Muslim Jihad or Aztec human sacrifice, ideas can wreak havoc through the people who carry them. It is a tenuous journey that is taken by those who join our ranks in TCP, one that must be walked in secret from their friends until they reach the point where they can walk on their own. I have seen many make that journey, successfully navigating the transition from religious professional to secular vocation. My journey was easy compared to most of those I've witnessed.

    The atheist who continues to preach to feed her family is simply providing a service to an audience who desires that service. Nothing more. She is an actor, playing a part they love to watch. One day she will step down from the stage never to play that role again. And she will be greatly relieved to do so.

  9. Top | #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Atheists masquerading as clergy.
    They have a word for that.
    And its not "doubt". It's not "apostasy". It's not "deconversion".

    It's called FRAUD.

    So quick to judge. Where was your outrage when we found out that the Roman Church has been sheltering and enabling the criminal pedophile priests in their midst for generations? Its called CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY.

  10. Top | #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atheos View Post
    As Learner mentioned earlier I am a member of Clergy Project (and incidentally have been added to the board of directors this year).

    Lion IRC I understand the outrage you would feel as a believer thinking that someone would occupy a pulpit and accept a salary that way. I can only offer the perspective I have seen from dozens of my new companions who struggle with this very thing.

    First of all, most of those who came to the realization that they no longer believed in the god they had so rigorously defended in their youth did not make such a choice on purpose. They were convinced against their will. They were forced to give in to the evidence in spite of their best efforts to cling to their faith. It is no different from a physician trying to convince you that you have diabetes. It's easy to deny you have it for years unless you check your blood sugar regularly and accept the evidence. You don't get to choose what the truth is, truth is forced upon you by investigating irrational things until the solution becomes clear. And in the case of many religious leaders the truth forced them to come to terms with the fact that sacred beliefs they once held were just not true.

    But by then these professionals have often made a career in this field. They've started families. They have children who depend on them for food, clothing and shelter. Perhaps they have spouses and other family members who depend on them and their income as well.

    They desperately want out of the lie they're living. The very principles of honesty and decency that brought them to ministry in the first place eat at them every time they stand in the pulpit and deliver sermons. Their sermons tend to gravitate away from fundamentalism and doctrine. Instead they speak more of humanity, kindness, love and compassion: things they can still believe in whether or not they share a belief in the god they once held.

    A scientist can learn that he was wrong about a given theory and continue to be respected in the community. A politician can often change ideologies and remain effective and respected. Nearly any other profession one holds can be abandoned due to lack of interest or personal growth without loss of community respect. But a preacher who no longer believes in "god" is a social pariah in what once was his or her closest community. Few professions exact such a heavy personal toll for simply changing your mind after reviewing evidence.

    The Clergy Project has no interest in deconverting clergy. Their (our) primary interest is in assisting those who have reached this point in their lives in transitioning to a secular occupation and lifestyle. We provide a sympathetic community where people can talk freely about the struggles they endure as they attempt to effect this transition. We pool our money, time and resources into the TAG (Transition Assistance Grant) to help with career training and counseling. People are hurting and afraid. They feel like the whole world is on their shoulders, knowing that they have to keep up this awful façade for a bit longer so their children can eat.

    But in the end there is no disapproving god looking down at this vile fraudster with furrowed brow. God is an imaginary construct, no more capable personally of harming the unbelieving preacher than the tooth fairy. But just like Muslim Jihad or Aztec human sacrifice, ideas can wreak havoc through the people who carry them. It is a tenuous journey that is taken by those who join our ranks in TCP, one that must be walked in secret from their friends until they reach the point where they can walk on their own. I have seen many make that journey, successfully navigating the transition from religious professional to secular vocation. My journey was easy compared to most of those I've witnessed.

    The atheist who continues to preach to feed her family is simply providing a service to an audience who desires that service. Nothing more. She is an actor, playing a part they love to watch. One day she will step down from the stage never to play that role again. And she will be greatly relieved to do so.
    Extremely well-stated. All of your points are borne out in Caught in the Pulpit.

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