Leaving religion but finding community


In my nearly twenty years reporting on Americana Christianity, I’ve observed a growing number of Christians becoming weary with the institutional church playing politics and amassing wealth instead of issuing a prophetic voice on social issues. When bestselling Christian pastors waffle on issues like marriage equality and even progressive emergent church gatherings continue to be led by white males who self-identify as straight, an increasing number of people choose to leave behind a faith that no longer speaks to them.

The statistics from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reflect this shift where one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated. Within this group, only four percent currently identify as atheist or agnostic though an overwhelming 88 percent say they are not looking for a religion. Those hawking their wares on the Christian author/speaker circuit may promote a kind of Christianity beyond religion that promises to create an insurrection where love wins. But these nones will not be lured back. Like Elvis, they’ve left the building.

Since the Clergy Project established an online presence in 2011, this confidential resource for active and former clergy who no longer hold supernatural beliefs has grown from 52 to 470 members. Presently 80 percent or their members are based in the United States with the majority of these ex-clergy coming from evangelical and pentecostal traditions. While filming Refusing My Religion, a documentary about these religious leaders who’ve lost their faith and become atheist activists, co-directors Michael Dorian and Marc Levine documented a grassroots-level development of “godless congregations” (based on a Christian model) to provide people who’ve left religion with the “sense of community” they miss once they leave their churches.

Written By: Becky Garrison
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com


  1. In reply to #1 by aroundtown:

    The suggestions in this story about gathering together under a banner of disbelief, (in a church like setting), to assuage their lost community connections just seems weird to me. There are a lot of ways to get together with people so why would you want to constantly remind yourself of what you don…

    Humans are social animals, we’ll find any reason to connect with each other. If some people can connect with others for something as silly as two teams of 11 people chasing a ball within a drawn square, then they can bloody well make connections for something less.

  2. Belief in a god is a personal thing and if someone needs that comfort, then it’s their choice, but to belong to a religion seems to me to be such a poor choice.

    Religious leaders are generally out of touch with the reality of modern day living, set firmly in the past, with sexist attitudes driven by their holy books and church doctrines that have no relevance to how people cope with life in this day and age. Religions are preoccupied with death, promising followers that all will be perfect in the next life, whatever this one is like.

    There are many opportunities outside of church and religions to belong to groups that are more constructive, more rewarding socially, more beneficial to humanity in general, can collect and distribute donations more effectively without the monstrous amounts needed for building and upkeep of unnecessary places of worship.

  3. I think the telling words in this piece are “supernature beliefs”; well, I’m delighted to be able to say that I ain’t got none!

    Which in strictly grammatical terms means that I do have woo in my bonce, but I don’t suppose anyone here misunderstands the intended sense.

    Must get on with my life.

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