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Teresa MacBain spoke at the American Atheists Conference on Monday, March 26 and told her story of transitioning from being a minister in a Methodist church in Florida.

You can find more information on The Clergy Project which is the project and forum to help non-believing clergy transition to a life where they don't have to hide their true beliefs or lack thereof at their websitehttp://www.clergyproject.org/

 


American Atheists 2012: The Year of the Ex-Preacher

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The first ex-preacher we heard from was Jerry DeWitt, a  brand new atheist and ex-minister who just left a Pentecostal church in Louisiana.  He has brought his considerable talent and his genuine empathy for humans to Darrel Ray's brainchild, Recovering From Religion.  Under his leadership and direction, the organization has grown to over 150 local groups offering support and peer counselling to people facing social, family, or other obstacles to leaving religion.  Jerry is a powerful speaker, and his story is one of conscience overriding social boundaries.  It is a story of doing the right thing when it became impossible to continue living a lie, even though the lie was literally his entire life.

And then it got better.  "Pastor M" is a (formerly) anonymous participant in The Clergy Project, headed by Linda LaScola and Daniel Dennett.  He is (or was?) a pastor at what he described as a large "mainline" church on the East Coast.  His presentation was also powerful and moving, as he discussed the lie lived by so many moderate mainline Christians, who profess belief, but whose lives display little faith in the positive promises, such as healing or prosperity, but who are still enslaved by the negative ones like guilt.

And then... it got even better.  A surprise guest was a second pastor.  Also part of the Clergy Project, "Lynn" stood up in front of a packed house and explained that her name was not Lynn.  Lynn is a pseudonym to protect her anonymity, since she has been continuing to serve as a Methodist minister.  But on this occasion, she stood up proudly and told us that her name is Theresa.  She added, with tears welling in her eyes, "and I am an atheist." Thunderous applause went on for what seemed like a five minutes, while a half-dozen other ex-pastors hugged her and while handkerchiefs met misty eyes all over the auditorium.  

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