Clergy who’ve lost their faith due to patriarchy

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posted on Oct, 7 2013 @ 11:54 PM
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The Clergy Project is fascinating; it’s a confidential online community founded in 2011 for active and former clergy who have lost their supernatural beliefs. The community’s 500 plus members use the network to discuss what it’s like being an unbelieving leader in a religious community. I interviewed their Executive Director, an atheist and passionate feminist, Catherine Dunphy.

VB: Catherine, tell us more about your project and how it approaches faith, atheism and feminism.

CD: The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for active and former clergy who are non-believers – our members identify as secular humanists, atheist, agnostic and freethinkers. I identify as a secular humanist. The Clergy Project provides a safe house for unbelieving religious leaders of every persuasion. Inside the virtual walls of our community we are free to interact and to share our stories.

Our private member-only site was created in March 2011 with 52 members – we now have over 500. As a virtual community The Clergy Project works to protect our members’ anonymity, especially given that many of our members are still in active ministry.

All of our members came to us after they had already decided they are no longer believers. Our members come from a variety of backgrounds, denominations and religions. Currently we count active and former Pastors, Chaplains, Rabbis, Imams Nuns, Monks and Priests as our members.

VB: How did it all start?

CD: I ‘m often asked how the Clergy Project came to be – it’s founding came about from a number of simultaneous conversations regarding the existence of unbelieving religious leaders and a concern for their unique dilemma.

First, there was the preliminary study “Preachers Who Are Not Believers,” by philosopher Dan Dennett and researcher Linda LaScola and second, conversations between Dan Barker, a former minster himself, and Richard Dawkins, concerning the need to help non-believing clergy who want to leave ministry.

These secular leaders, together with the first 52 members, founded the project. When we launched our public site, clergyproject.org, it was with the goal of communicating the existence of organized non-believing clergyand to develop programs and services to aid active members in leaving ministry.
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Preachers Who Are Not Believers
A recent study from Tufts University tells the story of several pastors who no longer believe in God. Most are still working in churches, still preaching sermons, and still counseling the faithful. They are isolated and, in some cases, unable to confide even in their own families, for fear of what their newfound disbelief may do to their relationships.
ExChristian.net


I have read many stories of former clergymen and women who have lost their faith but I had no idea that there was an active community of them who still ministered to their flock in spite of not having faith themselves. There are supposedly 500+ members of the online community which means that’s 500+ religious leaders who do not or did not believe what they are preaching led people down a path even they could no longer follow. How many more are there? Usually online communities are only a small portion of what is actually there.

The Clergy Project seems to be a site that helps those in positions of religious leadership who have lost their faith transition away from it. To join they have a screening process and I assume that is to help keep confidentiality I would imagine there would be groups that would try to infiltrate the organizations threads. (Sound familiar?)

Well good news is atheism is becoming more accepted even the Pope seems to have opened up to it. There are even atheist churches opening up across the world where faith is not required but a sense of community is. Those communities are welcome to all you just will not be hearing any sermons to deity’s there.




posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 12:45 AM
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reply to post by Grimpachi
 


Religion seems to have gone in a downward spiral towards extremism these days - its goal is no longer helping people or anything of that matter, but being hostile towards others, for the most part, and oddly enough, materialism. Don't ask me.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 01:14 AM
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It's all twisted for users involved...what ever blows their hair back.I have respect for any person that believes in them self.Muzzie's,Cristie's and Bootie's...knock yourself out,I still love ya.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 05:09 AM
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op... That is simply a symptom of a religion in decline. Religion is simply incompatible with an atheist/secular way of life.... And vice versa. It would be delusional of a christian to claim he is at peace with an atheistic society that has laws in place to protect ones ''right'' to insult God, the prophets and Jesus (packaged as 'free speech'). when godlessness oversaturates a society, the majority religion begins to crumble... Which is why even religious clergy begin to lose faith. When the godless are paraded as heroes and adored by the masses, even the religious begin to doubt their faith. As for atheism being on the rise, it does not neccesarily signal the beginning of an enlightenment or scientific progress. For example - the junk that passes off as 'entertainment' are the direct results of a society without religion.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 05:42 AM
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sk0rpi0n
It would be delusional of a christian to claim he is at peace with an atheistic society that has laws in place to protect ones ''right'' to insult God, the prophets and Jesus (packaged as 'free speech').

What is delusional is the notion that religion belongs in government. One look at the religious governments of the so called 'muslim countries' is proof that those governments do not work and are bad for humanity. A call for religion in government is an invitation for disaster ... an invitation for endless civil wars over just which religion gets to rule the people ... and an invitation for abuse of people using the archaic and absurd religious rules as an excuse to do so. And whose religion would be the rule of law? Catholic? Jewish? Buddhist? It's not exactly fair to push Jewish rules onto Catholics or Muslims and make those people go to jail if they don't follow the Jewish rules. Or push Catholic rules on Muslims or Jews. ETC THat doesn't make sense, does it? Nope.

No one should be subjected to insane religious laws (like women can't drive or women can't leave the house without a male family member escort or children can't have barbies/squirt guns or ____ (fill in stupid religious law of choice)). Secular rule of law is the only peaceful rule for humanity. People can then add on top of that base secular law their own religious laws on themselves if they wish. That's the ONLY civilized way to live.




AS FOR THE OP ... I didn't realize that the former religious leaders needed a 'safe house'. (that's what the article said) I understand getting together in a community to talk ... but they feel they need a 'safe house'?? That's interesting. Yet another example of why religious fanaticism (like those who call for religious rule of law for a country) is dangerous and wrong for humanity. People should be able to believe or disbelieve as they wish. It's their choice. It's between them and God. That these people feel they need protection from those religious fanatics is worth taking note of.
edit on 10/8/2013 by FlyersFan because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 08:18 AM
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One of the things that I recall from the last round of publicity that this "Clergy Project" got was that there were a few active clergy interviewed, and they made it clear that they were still "doing their job", despite them no longer having faith, because they didn't really have any other option. That tells me that there was something else wrong with their situation beyond this lack of faith, which seems a fairly obvious job requirement that disqualifies them for employment as a pastor, but which they ignore in favour of their own financial position.

I'm an engineer -- if I suffered a brain injury, illness or something else that took away my ability to think in terms of boolean logic, remember computer languages or recall various formula and algorithms, I would hope that I'd have the moral fortitude to go off and do something else, rather than "faking it" and hoping that the people I'm supposed to be providing a service for won't notice.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 08:25 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


I think they are going through the motions and yet their heart isn't in it. At a certain point in life you are kind of stuck in the job you are in. If you simply 'quit' and don't have a backup job to go to, then you are homeless and unemployed. These folks are in jobs like anyone else ... trained for a specific job ... all their eggs in one basket.

Look at it this way ... If you were a 55 year old fella and had been a priest for 25 years and suddenly your heart wasn't in the job anymore, would you simply quit and walk out. You'd be homeless and jobless and hungry... and too old to start over from scratch. Self preservation would tell you to stay put and make the best of it ... knowing that somehow you are helping people who do believe and at the same time you are keeping a roof over your own head and food in your stomach. It's kind of a practical way to look at it ... IMHO. Fake. But practical.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 09:10 AM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 


Yes, but are they "making the best of it" for themselves? Or for the people that they are supposed to be serving?

That's my issue, because I think that if it's the former, not the latter (and I'm not sure how it could be the latter, because what's best for them is to have their spiritual leader actually believe in what they're teaching,) then it speaks to an underlying moral issue that may be ancillary to belief/non-belief.

From a practical standpoint, yes, I can sympathize; but from a moral standpoint, what they are doing is wrong, nothing more than selfishness, and that's where my complaint lies.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 09:13 AM
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adjensen
are they "making the best of it" for themselves? Or for the people that they are supposed to be serving?

Both. It's fake, for sure. But the people get help from a trained person like they want .. and the clergy still keeps a roof over his head and food in his stomach like he wants. So it works. It's not the best situation and it's fake. But .... anyways .... that's what i see.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 09:22 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


I'm going to side with you on this. What these clergymen are doing by becoming atheist and remaining as preachers is dishonest to their congregation. I understand that they may not have the skills to transition from their current profession, but that sounds more like fear of the unknown then unable to switch jobs. Heck, pastors tend to be glorified motivational speakers, maybe they could transition to a public speaking role? How about some sort of domestic support field?



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 09:25 AM
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Krazysh0t
maybe they could transition to a public speaking role? How about some sort of domestic support field?

Yep. That would be good. Many clergy have a higher degree. Lots of them have to go to school and get masters degrees. So they are indeed degree'd. Perhaps finding work in a care giving field or in counseling. You are right. If they could do that, then that would be more honest. It would be hard to switch .... but sometimes those jobs are open to former ministers/priests. Excellent thought.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 09:56 AM
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FlyersFan

adjensen
are they "making the best of it" for themselves? Or for the people that they are supposed to be serving?

Both. It's fake, for sure. But the people get help from a trained person like they want .. and the clergy still keeps a roof over his head and food in his stomach like he wants. So it works.

Sorry, I just can't see it that way, because, in my opinion, phoniness breeds phoniness. It doesn't work, because it's predicated on a lie, and the basis of the church is supposed to be truth.

I put these guys on a par with charlatans like Benny Hinn who knowingly conduct phony faith healings and exorcisms to bring in the coin.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 10:07 AM
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I went on their site and read what I could I also read the study. Yes some feel stuck in their position out of material need but a good many more are afraid of losing friends, family, and spouses. They remain closeted atheists/agnostics because outing themselves in many cases runs the risk of losing those tys. In that respect I feel bad for them.

I had a friend who was caught up in Scientology his entire family was but he managed to get out which ment losing friends and family. They are extreme but I imagine that happens with all religions to some degree.

Reading their stories on those sites I get the impression it isn't about materialistic wealth that they are staying in for.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 10:23 AM
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reply to post by Grimpachi
 



a good many more are afraid of losing friends, family, and spouses. They remain closeted atheists/agnostics because outing themselves in many cases runs the risk of losing those tys. In that respect I feel bad for them.

I agree, I feel bad for them, as well, though I'd point out that a friend/family/spouse that would kick someone to the curb for their beliefs isn't much of a friend/family/spouse. I have plenty of atheists and agnostics as friends, and I couldn't care less what they believe, because I like them for who they are, not what they profess to believe.

But again, there is no moral basis for someone who does not believe in God to continue to stay in a job where the whole point is nurturing a belief in God. If one says that it's okay for that person to hide or lie about their qualifications in order to keep their employment, for whatever reason, they're saying that it's okay for anyone, anywhere, to lie about anything in order to maintain their employment viability, and I think that's fundamentally wrong.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 10:26 AM
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The thing is ... people often go through a crisis of faith ... and then come back to their faith. I'm sure that pastors and priests and ministers are no different. Lots of sincere people in those positions have a hard time keeping the faith through the years. They can run hot and cold like anyone else.

I'd hate to see someone toss away a ministry because they think they don't believe anymore, only to find in a year or two that they are back in the faith. Then a lot has been lost. I've read the lives of the saints and how they 'power through' the 'dry years' .. only to have a stronger faith on the other side.

I dont' know ... I can' see both sides here ... leave if you don't believe ... but also stay in case you are just having a faith crisis that will turn around ....

I dunno' ...



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 10:29 AM
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I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are probably tens of millions of people in America who question their religion, but are worried about being ostracized or rejected if they come out as non-believers.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 10:41 AM
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Gosh, our only two options are to be fundamentalist Christians or nihilist atheists. I never knew the choice was so simple!!

Which one shall I be when I grow up?

Ohhh this is a puzzler.




posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 11:41 AM
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reply to post by sk0rpi0n
 



Which is why even religious clergy begin to lose faith.

No, that's not why. It's because they realize after so long that what they are teaching is all a lie....

I'm curious, Sk0rp - how old are you? Where did your zeal originate? What is it you're afraid of?



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 11:49 AM
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reply to post by Grimpachi
 


S/F, OP! You've been quite busy with new threads of late...all worthy of Fs and Ss.

I was just reading ex-christian.net this morning...what a coinkydink!

Have you heard of David Fitzgerald? Watched a presentation by him on youtube this morning. Interesting rehash of all the reasons that Jesus may have been a myth and never actually lived at all.



posted on Oct, 8 2013 @ 11:49 AM
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reply to post by TheEthicalSkeptic
 


That is a gross misreading of this thread. No one is suggesting you only have two choices for faith. Even the link in the OP says that the ministers leaving their faith come from all faiths. From the OP's article:


All of our members came to us after they had already decided they are no longer believers. Our members come from a variety of backgrounds, denominations and religions. Currently we count active and former Pastors, Chaplains, Rabbis, Imams Nuns, Monks and Priests as our members.


Also these people don't just become hardcore atheists either. Also from the OP's article:


The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for active and former clergy who are non-believers – our members identify as secular humanists, atheist, agnostic and freethinkers.


So kindly take your trolling elsewhere, you aren't furthering the discussion at all.





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