I am an ordained, fundamentalist evangelical Christian minister — and an atheist. It might seem counterintuitive to read such a sentence, but a surprising number of ministers are rejecting religious belief.

None of us became ministers expecting to leave religion behind; we were authentic, strong, sincere, faithful clergy and practitioners of our faiths. Changing our minds about religion does not make us inherently bad or immoral people, uncharitable, dishonest, hostile, lacking in knowledge or common sense, deviants, or any of the other epithets frequently used to malign nonbelievers.

The Clergy Project is an organization that provides a support community for non-believing (atheist and agnostic) clergy and former clergy from all religions and denominations around the world. The organization, started on March 21, 2011, has more than 260 members and receives over 40 applications each month.

Members of The Clergy Project go through an extensive screening process to ensure prospective members actually are non-believers and are clergy or former clergy. Members are classified as either “active” (active clergy) or “alumni” (former clergy).

This organization is not meant to proselytize or change the beliefs of active clergy but to provide them with a support group that can aid them as they attempt to trade their religious careers for secular careers.

The idea of active clergy who no longer have religious beliefs might strike you as dishonest. However, one must consider all of the difficulties of their situations before passing judgment, as well as remember that such major changes in life are the result of lengthy processes rather than snap decisions.

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