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What Happens When Clergy Lose Their Faith?

Ask 100 clergy the reasons why they have lost their faith and you will likely get 100 different answers.  But one thing they all have in common is that there is a place they can all go to discuss their reasons why in a new and (hopefully) inspirational search for the answers that their respective religions could not provide for them.  

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason and the Freedom From Religion Foundation launched The Clergy Project earlier this year.  It is a website devoted to helping clergy, rabbis, and other similar religious professionals who feel otherwise lost in a seeming emptiness of religouslessness. As per the recent report over at The Christian Post, the project is about 100 members strong at the moment and they are reaching out to try and encourage hundreds, if not thousands of other clergy from around the world who have experienced similar personal conflicts within their religious-based careers.

According to the article, there are currently only two testimonials are featured on the website. One is by “Lynn” who states: “I am an active Methodist pastor who is also an atheist.

“Every week I feel like a fraud. Every week I struggle with the fact that I’m lying when I stand before my congregation. I’m leading a double life. I do have an ‘exit strategy’ but it requires some time. Until then, I will continue to serve my church and fight the battle in my mind.”

Your heart has to go out to people like Lynn who are in the position of having to live a lie every single day. As I have said before on The SGU and in interviews, freedom is the bedrock upon which the foundations of science and skepticism are built. It is impossible to advance science and skepticism in societies, castes, and cultures when the freedom to express one’s self is prohibited or discouraged to the point of being ostracized from everything (and everyone) a person holds dear. When you do not have the freedom, or feel like you do not have the freedom to express yourself, it is a life of chains, tethers, and anchors. In my opinion, this is no way to spend our once-in-a-lifetime chance at … life.

I’ll encourage you all to go pay a visit to The Clergy Project, and to check them out on Facebook. These are people in need of help and support, and as good-hearted skeptics we should do everything we can to encourage and support people trying to make one of the most difficult transitions a person can possibly make.

1 comment to What Happens When Clergy Lose Their Faith?

  • spreetin

    Not commenting on the the project itself, I do find your description of the difficulty it’s trying to address to be a bit distanced from the quote you use as a basis for it.

    What Lynn is describing don’t sound like a problem of her being ostracized from friends and family if she confesses to her unbelief (that could be the case, but the evidence at hand don’t give basis for that conclusion), but rather a problem of her being out of a job if she does the same. Of course one can’t be a member of the clergy (or other religious pastoral office) if one doesn’t believe in what the church that one is employed by teaches and believes.

    So even though one can, and should, feel for a person finding herself in that kind of a position, I find it to be blatantly wrong to describe the problem at hand that you are talking about as a deficit of freedom of thought and expression. It is a situation of not being able to take employment preaching what one does not believe.

    I would say that the problem is very much akin to a true believer spirit medium that comes to the understanding that what she does is wrong not being able to continue her current work in good faith.

    A swedish listener, fan and skeptic, and also a christian.

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