As a former liberal Christian, I was particularly eager to understand liberal clergy. I was bothered by the negative response from some of them after our pilot study was published. They complained that we didn’t get it – that we saw things as black and white, just as fundamentalist Christians do, that we were missing the nuances of the liberal’s sophisticated, evolved faith, which thrives on myth and mystery, tradition and reason.
Liberal clergy don’t accept the Bible’s miracles. They don’t believe in the supernatural, and they are open to science. They realize that atheists would therefore not consider them believers, but they do believe, and several wrote to tell us so. As one correspondent put it, “According to your definitions of God [as a supernatural being], I am more of an atheist than you are, and yet I adore God!” they say there are many clergy like them. But we found them inexplicit about their beliefs.
In our efforts to get a better understanding of the liberals, we interviewed two “believing” Episcopal priests (classified as “others” in appendix A). Their beliefs, or lack of beliefs, were not unlike those of the sixteen liberal clergy who characterized themselves as agnostic or atheist, but they still think of themselves as believers.
–Caught in the Pulpit by Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola, pg 126