God Damn the Pastors, who have left the Church
If there is a God and if he ever damned any one, the pastors who have rejected him are the people he would damn first, (if that’s the kind of God you believe in)
Recently at CFI Indiana on the canal in Indianapolis, we had an unusual and inspirational presentation. Teresa McBain, a Methodist pastor who had the courage to change her life and profession in order to live according to her new found secular principals, talked to us about her change of life.
Yes, she “came out”, but it was not about her sexual preference, it was about her rejection of the supernatural; about her rejection of a Bronze Age myth that had been ingrained in her since childhood. Her de-conversion is the closest thing I’ve seen to a real miracle, which I do not believe in.
Her presentation at CFI Indiana was memorable and a highlight we will not soon forget. There were tears in the eyes of those of us who listened to her and hugged her afterward.
Teresa McBain is the new director of the “Clergy Project”, sponsored by the Center For Inquiry, the Freedom From Religion Society and Richard Dawkins Foundation.
Simply put, the purpose of the Clergy Project is to provide safe haven for active and former clergy who no longer hold the supernatural beliefs of their religious traditions. Since its inception March 21, 2011 with 52 members, membership has grown to over 270, and it continues to grow. When pastors with doubts discover the existence of the project they must contemplate their futures outside their churches. Most atheists have faced similar decisions, but not with the same profound professional and personal percussions the ex pastors must face. Put yourself in their shoes; How do I tell my congregation, the people I have prayed with and counseled? How do I tell my friends and family? How will I earn a living? What will I do with my life?
The clergy Project helps the pastors answer these questions and face the uncertain future. I’m temped to say “Thank God for the Clergy Project”, but that would be an oxymoronic statement.
As the Clergy Project web page clearly states, it all began from three sources of awareness and concern.
1) Dan Barker’s experiences as described in his book.
2) Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola’s study in 2010.
3) Barker’s and Richard Dawkins’ ongoing collaboration.
Teresa McBain, a handsome woman, with a liberal Christian husband and two skeptic teenage sons spoke to us with great sensitivity and acknowledgement of what all atheists face in an unfriendly and bigoted world. Christians, the very people who preach love and forgiveness, are usually the ones who have the most hate and misunderstanding of atheism.
Teresa acknowledged her past role in the condemnation of non-believers. She apologized profusely and sincerely for her belief in and her repetition of the charges of immorality and anti American activities by atheists. She was a victim of Christianity’s false propaganda as was the German population deceived by the Nazi’s. She explained she was expected to believe what she was told without question. She explained that her Pentecostal father was the first person, but not the last, to explain that to question God’s word is a sin. Women, are directed not to question or speak on church matters and accusations against atheists are to be believed not questioned.
Teresa spoke of her gradual de-conversion from a blind faith to an intelligent and educated approach to all superstitious beliefs and biblical claims. Her experience was similar to that of most atheists, a gradual rejection of miracles as Thomas Jefferson did, then a rejection of the absolute authority of the bible, and finally a rejection of a belief in God.
The secular community must be grateful for Teresa’s deconversion, and the increasing deconversions of hundreds of other clergy who have seen the light of reason and science. The CFI Indiana’s members and visitors gave Teresa a generous applause and a sincere congratulation on her “coming out of the closet”. Teresa may have ended her religious career but a bright new and challenging career waits. Welcome Teresa, to the freethinking atheist community. Your experience is invaluable, your intelligence is needed, and your enthusiasm is welcome. Best of all, you now are able to contribute to a worthy cause, one that will not insult your intelligence and contribute to blind moral obedience.
Finally, atheists are prone to the same personal and moralistic challenges as Christians. Atheists, like Christians do not always successfully deal with the changing world and its many problems. Atheists use reason and science to facilitate and guide their lives while Christians rely upon writings from an ancient book. Teresa McBain will take her place along with the many notable freethinking atheists that lead and educate the atheist population, including CFI Indiana members.
Membership in churches is trending down and secular humanism is on the rise. Humankind is becoming aware that religion’s usefulness is waning. In the future religion may survive as a quaint and nostalgic practice that brings friends and family together on special occasions much the way a secular Christmas does today. Religious leaders like Teresa are pioneers, exploring new territory, making new in-roads into the once impenetrable dishonesty and confusion of religion.
Thank you Teresa.