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Atheists in the Pulpit: Clergy Who Are Non-Believers

Updated on May 9, 2017
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Catherine Giordano is a writer and public speaker who often writes and speaks on topics related to science, philosophy, and religion.

Many clergymen are secret atheists.
Many clergymen are secret atheists. | Source

Most likely there have always been atheists in the clergy, but only recently do we have people talking about it.

What Is "The Clergy Project?"

The previously well-kept secret was brought into the open by Daniel C. Dennett in his book with associate Linda La Scola. They published a report, “Preachers Who Are Not Believers,” in 2010. The result of their research and profiles of atheist clergy members are now published in their book "Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind."

In 2011, The Clergy Project was formed. It is an online community. They currently have 750 members, all current or former clergy members, from many countries around the world. This community provides support and help to members as they deal with the issues related to their loss of belief in the tenets of their faith.

The Clergy Project is primarily a peer support group, although the organization has steadily expanded their scope--they now provide more tangible assistance that includes re-employment preparation and secular counseling. The group also hopes to be able to provide job training, short-term loans, and temporary housing for atheist clergy members who want to leave.

How Many Atheist Clergy Are There?

Nobody knows for sure how many atheist clergy members there are, but the answer is probably a lot more than you think. (Note: I use the term "atheist clergy" for convenience--some may feel that they are agnostics or just “having doubts.”)

A survey conducted by the Free University of Amsterdam in 2006 found that one in six (17%) Protestant priests in Holland were either atheist or agnostic. Another survey found that as many as 16 percent of the Church of England’s licensed ministers have doubts about God.

Membership in The Clergy Project has increased ten-fold in just a few years. This indicates that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of atheist clergy.

Many members of the clergy are secret atheists.
Many members of the clergy are secret atheists. | Source

Why Do Atheist Clergy Stay in the Church?

Anyone who loses belief in their religion most likely faces a wrenching process. Their world view is shaken, they face being alienated from their family (including spouse and children), and often are ostracized by their community. Membership in a church is often so intertwined with every aspect of their life that leaving their faith may feel like being set adrift in the middle of an ocean.

When you are a member of the clergy--priest, minister, rabbi, imam—your loss of faith has a major psychological impact. Our profession is often very important to our sense of self, our identity, our perception of who we are, and this is especially true if we are a member of the clergy. Clergy members who leave will lose not only their livelihood, but also their sense of purpose.

Many people join the clergy not only for a love of God, but for a love of humanity. They want to help people. They want to be a leader. Joining the clergy may have been their lifelong desire going back to a very young age. They love the people in their congregations.

Clergy members who come out as atheists have a special “cross to bear.” They are often vilified and ostracized by their former congregants. They will get hate mail and threats against their life. It is traumatic.

It is easy to disparage the people who stay in the pulpit even when they no longer believe as cowards and liars, but this shows an utter lack of compassion and understanding. Walking away is extremely hard to do.

I recommend a book by Dan Barker, a former minister, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. This book gave me an understanding of how difficult it is for a minister to separate himself from his church. He eventually found a new career--he is Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a popular folksinger who sings songs with an atheistic bent.

Does Atheism Among the Clergy Begin in the Seminary?

Many young people enter the seminary ardent believers and emerge as atheists.

When a young person goes to seminary, he begins to look at his religion in a whole new way. It is most likely the first time he is learning the history of religion and the first time he is looking at religion as a scholar. This intellectual rather than emotional approach to religion often causes young seminarians to lose faith.

This education causes some to give up their desire to enter the clergy, and they leave the seminary. Others cannot give up their lifelong dream. In some cases, they may not want to disappoint family and community who are proud of them for entering the clergy.

They may push their doubts aside or believe that they can overcome them. They see others with the same doubts continuing on the path to the pulpit, and thus they come to believe that they can do so also.

My friend Paul was one of these people. His professors knew of his doubts, but encouraged him to continue. When it came time to be ordained, they asked him if he believed. He said he did not. They said “Are you going to say that from the pulpit?” He said “No”. They said, “Congratulations, you are now an ordained minister."

He was a minister for five years, but he found "living a lie" too much to deal with. He left the ministry and became a journalist. For most of his career, he was an editor of a respected magazine.

He told me, “I was lucky that I had another skill--writing—that I could use to support myself. Some of my friends from seminary did not have another marketable skill. They coped by focusing on good works instead of creed.”

Another way of coping is by playing semantic games. An atheistic minister might say “The Bible says …” In this way, he could tell himself he was only repeating what the Bible said, not saying it himself.

Paul told me that a friend of his who was a minister told him,“There is this little old lady in the front pew. How could I tell her that everything she has believed for her whole life was a lie?”

After Paul retired from the magazine, he eventually got to enjoy speaking from the pulpit again. He spoke at Unitarian Universalist churches. (Many Unitarian Universalist congregations focus on moral values and very little on God.) Paul gave secular sermons. His seminary studies stood him in good stead. He gave marvelous sermons.

My friend Mike grew up as a Mormon. After he served his two-year term as a missionary in Montana and Wyoming ---all Mormons are required to serve as missionaries when they turn 18-- he entered Brigham Young University and took some religion classes. That was the beginning of his journey to atheism.

I once asked him, "After you became an atheist, did you ever go back to the people you converted and tell them you were wrong?" He said that he had never been successful in converting anyone. However, when he talked to his father about the change in his views about religion, he did eventually convert his father to atheism. A few years later, he converted his mother. At last, he was a successful missionary.

Many people learn that the Bible is mostly myth and metaphor when they study religion in a seminary.
Many people learn that the Bible is mostly myth and metaphor when they study religion in a seminary. | Source

How Do Some Atheist Clergy Redefine Christianity?

Some members of the Christian clergy deal with their cognitive dissonance by trying to redefine what it means to be Christian.

One example is “Christian Non-Realism” which states that God is only a symbol or metaphor. In 2007, Dutch priest Reverend Klaas Hendrikse published his book Believing In A Non-Existent God. (This book is not available in English.) In 2011, Canon Brian Mountford of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, England, published Christian Atheist: Belonging Without Believing. They both found support for their beliefs.

John Shelby “Jack” Spong was an American bishop of the Episcopal Church. In 1999, he published Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile. He argued that the literal interpretation of the Bible is both false and outmoded. He does not believe in the virgin-birth, the resurrection, and just about all of the other church doctrines. He wants the church to evolve by joining a “dialogue between yesterday’s words and today’s knowledge.”

Essentially, Spong continues to call himself a Christian because he believes in Christ’s message of love and compassion. (The rest he calls mythology and nonsense.) After the publication of his book, many Christians said that if Spong was right about Christianity, it was already dead.

Actually, Thomas Jefferson, second president of the United States, anticipated Bishop Spong by several centuries. In the early 1800’s, Jefferson created the Jefferson Bible, by taking a razor to the book. He excised all mentions of the supernatural and miracles, and kept only the moral teachings of Jesus.

By these definitions, many atheists could call themselves Christians.

What Are Secular Churches?

Another alternative for people who enjoy being ministers, but who have lost faith in faith, is to form a secular church. It turns out that many people are looking for groups of this kind. They want the community that people find in church, but they do not feel comfortable worshiping a deity. In a secular church, they can gather together as a community, support each other, and do charitable work together in their community.

The London-based group, Sunday Assembly, is one such group. (It now has branches all over the world including many in the United States.) Another such group is Ethical Humanism (also know as Ethical Culture.)

Some ex-ministers form a new “church.” Jerry DeWitt, a former Pentecostal minister, formed Community Mission Project in Louisiana. Mike Aus, a former Lutheran pastor, formed Houston Oasis. There is also The Texas Church of Freethought.

There are quite a few non-theist Jewish congregations led by rabbis. Judaism has always been both a culture and a religion; so some Jews practice what they call Humanistic Judaism. They celebrate the culture while ditching the supernatural.

The difficulty with some secularists is that they find anything resembling “church” anathema. To me, this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Just get past the traditional definition of church as a place of worship and redefine it as a place of community, and enjoy all the benefits of church without having to accept supernatural beliefs. I believe joing a secular church is especially important if you have children. Children learn moral values and they get to see that their family is not the only secular family.

Perhaps secular churches are the future of religion.

Will Christianity be reinvented and will the churches of the future be secular churches?
Will Christianity be reinvented and will the churches of the future be secular churches? | Source

What Impact Are They Likely to Have on Religion?

Many people don’t give religion a lot of thought. They believe in whatever religion they were taught as children. Often believers are too busy with their everyday lives to think about their faith too deeply. Delving into their faith—reading and studying—is just too much work. Their religious leaders—the clergy—can do that for them. If they have questions, their religious leaders must know the answers.

What happens if religious leaders start admitting that they don’t have the answers either? Worse yet, what happens if religious leaders start saying they don’t believe a word of it. It’s all metaphor.

What happens if religious leaders abandon their tacit agreement that any questions and doubts they have will be kept among themselves? What happens if religious leaders start saying, "God doesn't exist" out loud? And what happens if they start doing this in significant numbers?

Linda La Scola Discusses Her Findings from the Clergy Study

Do you think that there are "secret atheists" among the clergy of mainstream religions?

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© 2015 Catherine Giordano

What do you think about atheists in the clergy and the future of religion?

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 4 months ago from Orlando Florida

      XaurreauX: I too meet ex-clergy who left because they stopped believing. I don't meet many who are still preaching, but then I wouldn't because I don't go to church.

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      XaurreauX 4 months ago

      I know several atheist ex-clergypersons and I sympathize with those still at the pulpit.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 12 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Taliesin: I'm so sorry to hear that you can no longer be proud of your alma mater because they are no longer a community of scholars, but instead purveyors of a single ideology. It is really sad that having this school on your resume hurts your reputation.

    • profile image

      Taliesin 12 months ago

      Apart from the teachings about compassion, treating others as we wanted to be treated, and so on, I left traditional Christianity while an undergraduate in a sectarian college. I was fortunate to have had an easier time of it than many did, first because I'd been raised among educated professional people, second because the college I attended actively encouraged students to think critically and even to doubt on occasion - something that is regarded as anathema there now after the fundamentalist takeover ca. 1978-1980. /// My pride in being a graduate of what used to be a first rate school is mostly pride in what once was. In some situations, I don't reveal my undergraduate background because that could color people's opinion of me as a serious scholar. I cite only my graduate school background. /// Even greater in a way than my concern for my reputation, especially now that I'm retired, is for the young people in school at my undergraduate alma mater now, especially in light of some of the recent faculty appointments. When I was there (1966-1970), faculty members represented a range of faiths. Now it is not possible for one to be a new hire without being an evangelical, if not a fully-fledged fundamentalist. Not long ago, a candidate with a doctorate from a respected divinity school was passed over in favor of another candidate with only a master's degree from a so-called university that really is little more than a glorified Bibe college. The situation is truly sad.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 15 months ago from Orlando Florida

      johnnycomelately: When I said "good Christian," I meant "good" in the sense that one would say "good ballplayer." I meant that he does his job well. I was not referring to the character trait of "goodness."

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 15 months ago from Tasmania

      The pathway to self knowledge can be a strenuous and arduouse one. Each is unique. Each is a mixture of matters to be shared, matters to remain private.

      The most important factor is honestly exploring, gaining courage and arriving at a place of self realisation.

      From that, one's cup full of love can flow over onto others who we realise are working on their journey too.

      A true sense of kinship, yet no one can do my journey for me.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 15 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      K&T - actually, as a child, the church did save me from perverse thugs after a fashion. From the 8th grade through graduation, I attended an SDA school. I also was blessed to spend 8 summers at an SDA camp. Many of my best memories were made there.

      The main issue today is the fact that I no longer have access to that refuge. Where I now live, the SDA church is extremely corrupt. If there is a God, surely He knew that? Why did I keep running into monsters on the job in Seattle, provoking my nervous breakdown? Why, instead, did I have to be rescued by my brother, who needed my help, but I was unable to provide it? I was forced to watch helplessly while the assistant pastor lured his daughter into dropping out of high school to join a cult he'd formed. If things had worked out in Seattle, she could have come to live with me - surely God knew that???

      As it is, God has to answer to far worse things than that - like the Holocaust.

      I've been dealing with my PTSD by reading the writings of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor. It has been very therapeutic and enlightening.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 15 months ago from Tasmania

      Catherine, greetings.

      The expression "not a good Christian" presumes that the character of a Christian is necessarily goodness, do you think? I suspect that is not what you implied. I merely wish to point out that presumption is common among many people. And false, do you agree?

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      Kiss andTales 15 months ago

      Say yes I was seventh Day .years ago baptized as a young woman attended private school still friends with a childhood school mate till this day. But since then I had to make the truth my own .not based on others and their own imperfections , but really being introduced to the true God Jehovah at Paslms 83:18 . That is every humans obligation not the obligation put on other imperfect humans . Suppose your pastors life course changes then what ! Suppose he can not get back to you because of something he can not control. Is your relationship based on your God or is it based on this imperfect pastor who also has to ask God to grant them another day to life .

      Sometimes we give people more power then they should have. They are only human like us. it is the Heavenly Father who deserves our attention and concern.

      I feel great that I now know the difference .just something to think about

      Say yes you have been here along time my friend I have no reason to tell you wrong but only from my heart what I can say is truth.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 15 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I arrived in Seattle with a care home owner who was a major manipulator. She could have had me put in jail for a falsified crime. My pastor rescued me from that. So he definitely has the Christian spirit. If in fact he is an atheist, I would not expect him to tell me - especially in writing! That would jeopardize his career!

      I was wrong to give him the nasty details of my nervous breakdown. That is the domain of professional counselors, not pastors.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 15 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Say Yes To Life: If your pastor rejected you , he was not a good Christian. I doubt he was an atheist because most atheists are very accepting.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 15 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I grew up as a devout, conservative, Seventh Day Adventist. My world was divided into two factions; one filled with kind people but rigid rules, and the other where I had some freedoms but was full of perverse violent thugs. When I turned 18, I wanted both the kind people and the freedoms. By rebelling against the church, I achieved this for awhile, but because I was focused on this foolishness rather than acquiring the skills necessary for adulthood, I wound up crashing hard. I returned to the church, but they were no more effective in helping me than they had been in saving me from thugs. Then I inadvertently joined a cult, putting my life in danger.

      There's a lot more to my story, but I'll spare you the gruesome details - especially since I told them to my wonderful pastor in Seattle, and never heard from him again.

      That was 3 years ago. Yesterday, I emailed him, saying I am now doing much better. If he answers, I will apologize for laying something so heavy on him. If he doesn't - I don't know what I'll do...

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ThatMommyBlogger: I suspect that if your church has enough members and it is not totally fundamentalist there are some nonbelievers who come out of habit or to network/socialize. Even the pastor may be a non-believer. Listen closely to what they say (or don't say) and you may be able to figure out who.

    • ThatMommyBlogger profile image

      Missy 22 months ago from The Midwest

      Very interesting hub. This issue never even occurred to me. I wonder if my church has any hidden nonbelievers...

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      A scientist moving from an atheist position to a theist position does not increase the likelihood of the existence of "God."

      It's simply the case of just one more human person making a personal choice to "believe" a god exists.

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      sujaya venkatesh 22 months ago

      God is inclusive of Science

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Austinstar

      I agree with your statement. By the way I was agreeing with your previous statement that 'science probably can't prove the ephemeral'

      Having said that you should take a look at the latter part of my hub as the information came from scientists who started out as atheists but looking at scientific data they found led to belief in God! Follow the links I've just put in and you'll find their own words!

      Lawrence

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Science doesn't exactly prove anything. Science is a method of study to try and figure out the natural world. Science is concerned with practicality and reality.

      Religion (and ephemeral things) are defined by a set of beliefs only. You are free to believe anything you want to believe.

      Science is restricted to hard facts, physical laws, and repeatable experimentation.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Johnnycomelately and Austinstar

      Just finished the Hub I was talking about. I didn't get into the Human consciousness stuff in it as that's to controversial even for me :-)

      Science isn't going to 'prove' the ephemeral anytime soon but there are some things that it is pointing to right now if we'll just open our eyes!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I will just be so happy on the day that science can finally prove the ephemeral. Oh wait, it probably can't. But don't despair. Your brain is very good at seeing things that aren't there! So, faith on....

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 23 months ago from Tasmania

      Thanks Lawrence. My mind remains open! However, there are times when it needs to settle upon one particular explanation, only to be re-opened when new information presents.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Johnnycomelately

      Thanks for picking up up on my statement I was meaning to carry on from it with some stuff I've been reading about research being done into Human consciousness at the moment and the possibility that our brains are simply conduits used for transmission and little more than a 'transmitter/reciever' for the real us that is our soul/mind/will.

      It is real controversial stuff that's right on the fringes of science but involves some top neuroscientists (as far as I'm aware).

      I'm also doing a series tracing the history of the arguments for the existence of God at the moment, I published the one on the Cosmological argument a few weeks ago and hope to finish the Teleological (From design) later today! They might help you understand why I see things the way I do.

      Lawrence

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 23 months ago from Tasmania

      If you will please excuse me butting in here, Lawrence: that last clause of yours, "... you're right that one day this mortal frame will perish but who says that I'm just a bunch of chemicals?" tells it all, in my opinion.

      The "mortal frame" disappearing into oblivion you are comfortable with... at least your brain accepts it.

      Your emotional coping with the idea of disappearing forever makes you want to construct an alternative way out. (Many people I suggest are reluctant to say good bye with complete finality.) So, you built up the belief of a possibility....i.e., the bunch of chemicals will in some way become transformed into another body. To excuse yourself from too much difficult mental areobatic gyration, you say that body will be in the spiritual realm. No one else can see it so it can't be argued. You are safe...at least you cannot be proven wrong.

      Now, I see such beliefs as not to be argued, insofar as you personally believe it. It's yours to possess. Not for me or anyone else to try to dispel it in your mind. That is purely for you to keep or discard, just as if and when you wish to.

      But I feel this is the point you would be returning the love and saying, "Ok folks, you hear my side of it. I hear yours. Let's live with it and get on with life regardless." Then you really are able to say with complete honesty, "..agree to disagree," and it is not just a cliche.

      I hope this in some way helps to clarify the discussion.

      (It took me more than 16 minutes to compose this post, longer than it took Austinstar to get her superior brain and computer into action!)

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      Austinstar 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Lawrence Physics and Chemistry say you are just a bunch of chemicals, and atoms, and energy, and space. In fact, we are composed of the exact same matter, energy, and space as everything else in the universe.

      Another thing you brain can't reconcile. You tend to think you are special somehow with a "soul", yet you won't grant this same "specialness" to the rest of the animals (or even the universe as a whole).

      Your brain tries to resolve the contrast between believing in a god and BEING part and parcel of the whole. (We are gods, We are the universe).

      When you figure it out, you will have realized your brain's potential.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Austinstar

      I think you and I are going ro have to agree to disagree with you on this. I was trying to be constructive, you're right that one day this mortal frame will perish but who says that I'm just a bunch of chemicals?

      Lawrence

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Lawrence01 - Yep - that belief is what your brain can't reconcile with reality. Jesus, if he ever actually lived, is now very definitely dead, and the horrors of the days ahead were created by this very "redeemer" who obviously does not "stand on the earth".

      Your brain also knows that you will NOT prevail, that one day, you too, are going to die.

      For what is this bible verse a remedy for?

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Austinstar

      One of my favorite verses is Job 19 verse 25 "But I know my redeemer lives, and one day he will stand on the earth"

      To me it says 'it doean't matter what you're thinking now! Because I know Jesus lives I can face the horrors of the days ahead and I WILL PREVAIL!'

      Simplistic I know but its an age old remedy that has proved true.

      Lawrence

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 23 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      lawrence01 - When you have those "doubts" - it's because your brain is trying to tell you something. It's very hard to keep up with the mental gymnastics of "faith" versus "facts". Once your brain encounters myths such as those found in the bible, your brain has a difficult time reconciling them with present day reality.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Scmolka

      Interesting point of view. I can understand the frustration but those clergy were being as honest as they knew how!

      What you describe of clergy may be taught in university but its not taught in the Bible colleges and seminaries where most churches get their ministers from! We are taught that God is personal!

      I can't answer for those who walk away from their faith except to say we all have times of doubt!

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Schmolka: Thanks for giving me an insiders view. It is all allegory, but the churches think that laypeople are not sophisticated enough for the truth. I consider myself to be a humanist and I am spiritual in the sense that I am moved by a sunset, music, babies ext. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water. A feeling of transcendence is possible without gods.

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      schmolka@bell.net 23 months ago

      My hubby and I are Unitarians and Humanists. I have a 2nd degree in Religious studies. I wanted to become a community Unitarian minister when I was in my 30's. What I learned in university was that most ministers, rabbis and priests knew that 'god' was not a person, but a process; that all religious scriptures were mostly legend, at least, if not complete myths, that the process of god was unconditional growth, unconditional love; that there was no real afterlife-whether heaven or hell. Situational ethics was the moral compass one had to contend with, and spirituality did not necessarily need to be connected to any formal religion. I have grown consistently frustrated with clergy who are not honest with their church, synagogue, mosque members. I am also really disappointed in many Humanists, (of which I am still a member), who are against showing any awe or emotion or creative action when they witness a sunset, childbirth, amazing landscape, beautiful music . In addition to that, Humanists I know, are not friendly. I think many members still belonging to a religious group of any kind, do it for friendship, fellowship and community. What do you think?

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      peeples: Thanks for the information about Judiasm. There are some Judaic congregations that are openly atheist. For them it is about heritage and community more than it is about community. Christian ministers are admitting that they have lost faith. It is very traumatic for them to admit this--both personally and with respect to their family and community. I direct my writings to people who are already non-believers. I always say if the information I provide is going to upset you, then don't read my posts about about atheism. I have plenty of other hubs, many uplifting and/or funny, for people to read.

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      Peeples 2 years ago from South Carolina

      It's not uncommon in Judaism anymore for there to be a strong belief in questioning, well, belief. It is estimated that nearly 50% of Jews in America now find themselves atheist or agnostic in belief. Many Jews even feel that without fully questioning, fully doubting, you can't actually believe. It seems this is quite opposite of what Christians teach. It is interesting to know that more and more leading the church are finding themselves in an agnostic or atheist position. I agree with with the minister that said how do you tell the old lady she was believing a lie. Religion provides comfort for many, and I don't think it is anyone's right to take away that comfort unless it is hurting others. I can only imagine the backlash if a former Christian minister suddenly announced atheism. Great article!

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you very much for your comment jonnycomelately. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Another excellent hub, Catherine.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Dan Baker has been out as an atheist or so long now. He lost his family, his friends, his vocation. he used to sing Christian songs; now he sings atheists songs. I think I have his cd around somewhere,.

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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      My sister heard Dan Barker on the radio some time back. It was the first she knew of his new status. She had quite an emotional reaction. My sister's husband recently retired from the Southern Baptist ministry.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      cam8510: I enjoyed Dan Barker's book when I read it about 10 years ago. Dan Barker now runs The Freedom from Religion Foundation. Thank you for filling me in with your personal memories of him. I'm glad you like the post and I hope your journey is smooth sailing. I'm pretty sure he's still involved with music.

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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Catherine, One of the books you advertise here, the one by Dan Barker, caught my attention. I've been aware of Dan's work for a few years now. We called him Danny when I was a child. He visited our home, I'm sure, on occasion. He traveled with a Christian evangelist whom my family supported. My sister traveled with that evangelist when Dan was also on the "team." My older brother and I followed in our sister's footsteps and traveled with that same evangelist. I remember Dan Barker playing the piano in the evangelistic crusades. He is a remarkable pianist. I don't know if he still plays. But I followed in his footsteps and, after 15 years in ministry and preparation for ministry, I stepped out and took a good look at what I had been teaching. All the secret questions that had been in the back of my mind, came flowing out. I've been dealing with those one by one ever since. You've put together an article here that hits the nail squarely. Ministers who remain in the pulpit, in spite of their unbelief, are in a tough place vocationally and in their family relationships. If they admit their unbelief, they will be cast aside by the church and many times by spouses and children. I'm glad for the work of The Clergy Project. I've been aware of it for some time, but have not joined. In reality, I'm probably 50% out of the closet now. I'm not in professional ministry, but there are people who are not aware of my current status as an ex-Christian. Thanks for dealing with this topic in such a sensitive way. It shows the hard choices these individuals have to make.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Serenityjmiller: I appreciate your insight about ministry. Thanks for your comment.

    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 2 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Thank you for this thoughtful piece. Indeed, perhaps ironically, ministry is an environment more challenging to one's faith than any other. I appreciate your treatment of this difficult subject.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      If I had to name names, he would be on my list of the biggest trolls around HP. You should (try to) read some of the latest hubs that Titen-Sxull has written on atheism from the point of view of reformed believers. Every copy/paste comment is there.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Austin. I have stopped reading Joe's comments and I have stopped responding. It looks like he does not plan to take my advice to write his own hubs. Evidently, he'd rather troll.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      No, Joe, Catherine has it right, and well said. What you are doing is trolling.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      Like my profile reads, I am a "Foe of mendacities" which means I expose and impugn them wherever they're published.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Joseph O. Polanco: I learned another new word this week--"Troll." A troll is someone who posts on other people's comments section solely to start arguments. I went to your profile page. You have been on HP for more than a year and a half and you have only one hub published--a very short one. Are you on HP solely to troll? Are you afraid if you wrote a hub no one would read it, so you piggyback on other people's popular hubs in order to get your views read? You have more than enough material for a hub. Go write a few.

      I don't like to argue. I write about atheism and religion because it is a topic that interests me, I know a lot about it, and this topic generates the most traffic for me. I always write fairly giving credit where credit is due and I keep it polite.

      You appear to be know quite a lot about the Bible. Put it in a hub.

      I am always happy to answer questions or discuss any of the points I make in any of my hubs. However, I don't want to take the time to address comments that are off topic. However, you have given me some ideas for topics for new hubs, so perhaps we can discuss some of your ideas after I write new hubs. Or I can comment on your hubs and we can continue the discussion..

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      It does, however confute your rather diaphanous claim that the biblical accounts are all merely myth.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Joseph O. Polanco: Wow. I think your comment is longer than my article. I think you should use that material as content for a hub of your own.

      The problem I have is that I wrote about how some members of the clergy are secret atheists and nothing in your comment addresses that. Nonetheless, thank you for commenting.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Hi Austinstar. I feel like I've been challenged to a duel and you are my second. Thanks.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Another copy/paste vomit comet from JOP. How many times are you going to keep pasting it into people's hubs, Joe?

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      Except that the historicity of the Bible has been validated time and again. Over the years, skeptics have challenged— and continue to challenge— the Bible’s accuracy regarding the names of people, events and places it mentions. Time and again, though, evidence has shown such skepticism to be unwarranted. The Bible record, as such, is wholly factual.

      For example, at one time scholars doubted the existence of Assyrian King Sargon, mentioned at Isaiah 20:1. However, in the 1840’s, archaeologists began unearthing the palace of this king. Now, Sargon is one of the best-known Assyrian kings.

      Critics questioned the existence of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered Jesus’death. (Matthew 27:1, 22-24) But in 1961 a stone bearing Pilate’s name and rank was discovered near the city of Caesarea in Israel.

      Before 1993, there was no extra-biblical evidence to support the historicity of David, the brave young shepherd who later became king of Israel. That year, however, archaeologists uncovered in northern Israel a basalt stone, dated to the ninth century B.C.E., that experts say bears the words “House of David” and “king of Israel.”

      Until recently, many scholars doubted the accuracy of the Bible’s account of the nation of Edom battling with Israel in the time of David. (2 Samuel 8:13, 14) Edom, they argued, was a simple pastoral society at the time and did not become sufficiently organized or have the might to threaten Israel until much later. However, recent excavations indicate that “Edom was a complex society centuries earlier [than previously thought], as reflected in the Bible,” states an article in the journal Biblical Archaeology Review.

      There were many rulers on the world stage during the 16 centuries that the Bible was being written. When the Bible refers to a ruler, it always uses the proper title. For example, it correctly refers to Herod Antipas as “district ruler” and Gallio as “proconsul.” (Luke 3:1; Acts 18:12) Ezra 5:6 refers to Tattenai, the governor of the Persian province “beyond the River,” the Euphrates River. A coin produced in the fourth century B.C.E. contains a similar description, identifying the Persian governor Mazaeus as ruler of the province “Beyond the River.”

      Regarding the historical accuracy of the Bible, the October 25, 1999, issue of U.S.News & World Report said: “In extraordinary ways, modern archaeology has affirmed the historical core of the Old and New Testaments— corroborating key portions of the stories of Israel’s patriarchs, the Exodus, the Davidic monarchy, and the life and times of Jesus.” While faith in the Bible does not hinge on archaeological discoveries, such historical accuracy is what you would expect of a book inspired by God.

      Even more staggering, however, is the fact that there’s more historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Christ than there is for evolution. In fact, any denial of the historicity of Christ’s resurrection is comparable to denying the US declared its independence in 1776 or that Columbus landed in America in 1492.

      In his book "The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus", Michael Licona provides a list of scholars who attest to the historicity of Christ’s death and resurrection which includes Brodeur, Collins, Conzelman, Fee, Gundry, Harris, Hayes, Hèring, Hurtado, Johnson, Kistemaker, Lockwood, Martin, Segal, Snyder, Thiselton, Witherington, and Wright.

      Concordantly, British scholar N. T. Wright states, "As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993)), p. 26.

      Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”(Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.)

      These are just a minute sampling of the massive throng of scholars whose research attests the historicity of Christ’s resurrection - http://amzn.to/13MQiTE http://bit.ly/18UraA6

      Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Descriptions”, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

      1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.

      2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.

      3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.

      4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.

      5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The statement: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.

      6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as an actual, historical resurrection.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Sorry. My reply was to the previous comment about religion being "brainwashing" and the things being done in the name of God.

      Lawrence

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Joseph O. Polanco: All cultures talk about a "Great Deluge" because floods are common to all areas of the world. I just saw on NOVA how the ancient city of Petra in a desert--one of the driest on Earth--got wiped out by a flood. In my view, a story of a very large flood that happened in the Mid-East got collected into the Bible.

      The stories in the Bible need to be corroborated by other sources. No historian takes only one source. The Bible is especially unreliable because religion uses metaphor and parable. It is not meant to be history. Do you accept the stories of the Norse Gods, for instance, as truth or do you call them legend and myth. These stories were written down by more than one source.

      Anyway, this hub was not about the truth of the Bible, but about the truth of clergy who do not believe what they preach. Some of the very people who study the Bible and the history of their religion the most, don't believe it. A significant proportion of them are willing to admit that they don't believe it. I was actually very shocked by how prevalent this is.

      The next time you go to church, listen very carefully to the sermon and see if you spot some of the tell-tale signs of non-belief that I described in this hub.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      Just about all ancient peoples possess lore telling how their forebears made it through a global deluge . African Pygmies , European Celts , South American Incas—all have very similar legends , as do peoples of Alaska , Australia , China , India , Lithuania , Mexico , Micronesia , New Zealand , as well as regions of The North American Continent , to point out just a few .

      Through the years the legends were , needless to say , adorned nevertheless they all incorporate a number of specific details thus revealing the existence of a well-known source narrative. Specifically : God was angered by mankind’s evil . He caused a great inundation . Humanity on the whole was wiped out . A handful of righteous ones , nonetheless , were protected . These constructed a vessel wherein individuals as well as wildlife were protected . In time , birds were sent off to seek out dry terrain . At long last , the vessel came to rest on a mountain . Upon disembarking , the survivors presented a sacrifice .

      Precisely what does this establish ? This likeness simply cannot be coincidental . The collective evidence of these particular legends corroborates the Bible’s ancient testimony that all people descend from the survivors of a flood that eradicated a world of humankind . For that reason , we need not rely upon legends or myths to learn what occurred . We have the carefully preserved history in the Hebrew scriptures of the Holy Bible .—Genesis , chapters 6-8 .

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Patti Inglish MS: Even if there was a Noah's Ark, I doubt it would be found. How long ago was the Great Flood supposed to have happened? 5000 or 100,000 or more years ago. It was made of wood. If a boat was found, how would we know it was the Ark and not some random boat.

      I just googled the number of insects species. About 1,000,000. Even as pupa and larva, they would take up a lot of space. There are 8.7 million species of animals. Further without genetic diversity, a species weakens and goes extinct. That would go for the humans also.

      It is just not possible for Noah's Ark to be literal truth.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Many people who serve in the clergy do it because they have a passionate belief and a passionate desire to serve. Why do they go to seminary and change their mind about their beliefs. Maybe as you say it is the way religious studies are taught. However, since I wrote this many people have told me their stories (here in the comments and elsewhere) and I now think atheists in the pulpit is far more prevalent than I initially thought.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Daniiel Guillot: You would problably like another article I wrote: Does Religion Do More Harm than Good?"

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      And all that from the man who said "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!"

      Maybe it's man's twisting of the truth that caused it and not the actual teaching of the faith itself!

    • profile image

      Daniel Guillot 2 years ago

      WHAT??? you mean they are not in it for the money or something like that?

      Religion/Christianity demands we accept the supernatural and reject the natural.

      Science flies you to the moon.

      Religion flies you into buildings....

      Isn’t religion GREAT? It legitimizes a reason to hate maybe even kill your neighbor AND it gives you a God to forgive you for doing so

      Religion is the biggest mental illness that is left untreated in human existence.

      Reason why conditioning minor children into and superstitious/religious belief should be a felony. It is child abuse and destroys ability to think critically for life.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin worked on finding Noah's Ark until his death in 1991, whereupon his wife Mary took over his foundation, gathered professional researchers, and compiled professional work from several people (Bible scholars, scientists, and others) globally who had studied the whereabouts of the Ark. She published findings in 2012, convinced that the boat is on Mt. Suleiman in Tehran; so, archaeologists are looking there now.

      I believe that Noah's Ark is real, bolstered by speculation from scientists and lay people that not all animals on it were animals, but rather, many were eggs, cocoons, hives, and larvae. For that matter, scientists discover new animals globally every week and I think new animals are coming into existence every week. I also think some animals go extinct to be replaced by others - one example is a parrot in the US South (the Carolinas in the 1900s, I think it was) I wrote about. One species went extinct and soon, a very similar one proliferated and received a different species name. It is all fascinating; I just await the scientific results now.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Thanks for your comments. It is good to be able to be in dialog with people who have different beliefs. You can't learn anything if only listen to the echo chamber. I'll follow up on your suggestions, but it may take a little while for me to get to it.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I think if you didn't write on subjects like this it would be tragic. I'm sorry if any of my comments have caused any problems and do apologize for them.

      As for the comments you made about Noah's Ark I have done a series of hubs on the evidence for the Biblical story. Not all the readers will agree that it was a global flood but take a look at the evidence (OK there are four hubs on the subject) and I think you'll be surprised at the amount of evidence.

      As for the evidence of the Hebrew exodus look up the Amarna letters discovered in 1887 written in Cuneiform addressing Pharaoh Akhenaton (circa 1350 to 1400 BC) from vassal kings in Canaan. part of them are asking for help against a tribe of 'Habiru' who have invaded from the East and have taken cities (the account I read was from the British Museum and said the list of cities that had fallen to the Habiru was identical to the list of cities that Joshua captured).

      I have to be honest. While I'm looking forward to reading about bread pudding I really look forward to your hubs dealing with the weighty issues and I hope you deal with more of them in the future.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I'm not a Biblical scholar so I can't talk to all of your points points. (I have heard of Quelle, but I can't recall off hand anything specific. I'll try to find some time to check that out. ) I haven't heard of any new scholarship either. I'll look in to it. I do try to stay current in this field.

      However, I do remember being very surprised when I read recently (within the last few years) that archeologists could find no evidence for the Hebrew people marching through the desert for 40 years. They said it was surprising that nothing could be found. I'm assuming this is because other comparable migrations have left evidence. I always thought the Exodus story was based on fact.

      I would be surprised if the Biblical scholars in a seminary would teach something that went against their own religion if they were not absolutely sure of it. . I have heard that scholars from the world over participated in a research project--I think it was called The Jesus Project. They set out to prove the literal truth of the Bible re: Jesus and ended up coming to quite opposite conclusions.

      The Bible is historically accurate down to the minutest detail? Some of it may be historically accurate, but Noah's Ark?

      However, my hub was not about whether the Bible was true or not so I did not research that. My point was that some clergy do not believe what they preach and in some cases this is because of what they learned in seminary. Everything I report in this hub is fact not opinion. (In some of my other hubs about religion, I give opinions, but not in this one.)

      I'm just reporting on the fact that some in the clergy, including bishops, do not believe. Surely clergy would be one of the first groups to learn of new scholarship and surely they would be happy to change their minds and go back to belief if the scholarship is as you say it is.

      My next hub is going to be about a recipe hub about bread pudding, and I'm doing another one about mangos. I need a break from weighty matters. You wrote a thoughtful heart felt comment, so I am putting a lot of effort into my reply. It will be so much easier for me when my hub is about bread pudding.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Coming back to this article I have to say that much of what is being taught in our seminaries about the Bible not being reliable is based on work that is at least fifty years out of date. Many of the tutors in these schools are people who built a reputation on pulling the Bible apart and for them to suggest otherwise would destroy their own work of fifty years or more.

      For example you would be hard pressed to find one archeologist or historian who would doubt the validity of the Gospels and that they gospels were eyewitness accounts written only a few years after the event and show evidence of being based on an earlier account (This is Matthew and Luke. If you don't understand this check out the Wikipedia article on Quelle the German word for source and the name given to the document thought to be the foundation) of the sayings of Jesus that may have been written in Aramaic (not Greek or Hebrew) literally as a shorthand type of note taking on the day it was said.

      Archaeologically the Bible has been shown time and time again to be accurate down to the minutest detail. For a long time Historians doubted whether people like King David or Solomon really existed but only two years ago archaeologists discovered what they now believe to be the foundations of King David's palace right where the Bible said it would be!

      I think it is important for seminary to cover the fact that at one time there was a school of thought that said the Bible may not be 100% accurate BUT we need to realize that modern research in Archaeology and history has shown that we need to realize that the Bible has been right all along!

      Sorry this might seem a bit of a rant but it's something I'm really passionate about.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Patty for filling me in on the details. I was really surprised that a pastor would do that.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      The student preacher was a believer who later said he felt he must preach what the seminary taught or be expelled from the school; he later dropped out.

      The senior citizens said later that the student pastor was preaching under some sort of new educational nonsense they hoped he would "grow out of", so I think they did not take him seriously. I had been angered that the seminary was instructing pastors to preach what I still believe are falsehoods. Two years ago I heard the same denials of God and Bible from a local Lutheran pulpit.

      And personally, I have not found any translation of the Bible correct, so I stick to the original languages of both OT and NT.

      Thanks for the Hub.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Patty Inglish MS: Angry that the pastor told the truth as he knew it? Angry that the senior citizens didn't mind? Did the senior citizens forgive the pastor for being addled (as if he had preached while not in his right mind) or did they thank him for having the guts to say it?

      I think I would have been dumb-founded to hear it. I did not know that pastors ever "preached" this whatever their private thoughts.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      When I was very young in 1970, an older friend enrolled in the Methodist Seminary north of Columbus, Ohio. I was dumbfounded, because that year, they began to instruct their future pastors that the Bible is fake but the stories can be used as lessons; that there is no God/Holy Spirit/Jesus and no heaven or hell.

      I listened to one of the students preach that message to a congregation of older senior citizens. Instead of being upset, they all patted him on the shoulder and said he was "a nice boy anyway" as they left smiling. I'd only been to church a dozen times in my whole life, but I was angry.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks itsallrelative for sharing your first-hand experience. I'm so sorry you were misled especially if it at the hands of church leaders who didn't believe themselves. I hope you are doing OK now.

    • itsallrelative profile image

      itsallrelative 2 years ago from Outside Dallas

      I have read about this subject quite a bit and from what I can tell, most younger pastors know the truth when they graduate but still take the pulpit and preach and teach with a 150 year old message, citing to commentaries that are so biased as to be simply propaganda. I find it sad. But then I taught thousands of Sunday school classes myself. I wish I had known the truth and had access to modern scholarship 15 years ago. I just followed what authors were recommended - "towed the party line." I never knew of all the modern work out there and its far more cogent and simple explanations of the bible and its contents.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      itsallrelative: Thank you so much for your comment. I too feel sorry for anyone who loses his faith because it is a very hard thing. They eventually fill that hole and are the better for it. I'm sure it is exceptionally hard for someone who wants to be a leader in his faith to learn that the tenets of his faith as he has known them are not true.

    • itsallrelative profile image

      itsallrelative 2 years ago from Outside Dallas

      I think most younger clergy have been exposed to modern scholarship while in seminary and most if not all, have had to re-define their beliefs. There are a number of fine schools that are known for exceptionally conservative values and have an accordingly narrowed scope of instruction that is less likely to focus on historical criticism. Others are known for more liberal or progressive class options. Either way, at some point, all clergy must accept the history of the bible for what it is. Then, in order to stay on as clergy, they must decide how to pass on its message - regardless of their own beliefs. I do have compassion for those that spent a lifetime believing and then later becoming a non-beliver. It must create a huge and empty hole - one that atheist have long since filled with the wonders of life itself.

      Fabulous hub!!

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      To add I would just like to use an example,

      say you own a company say like Donald Trump , an empire of wealth, you have many employees , and managers. As we have seen on his shows, who fires who hires, he does , he is the boss , not one of those people in that room gather around that table can fire him.

      if he set the standards that applies to those that work for him, who will get up and tell Donald Trump this is contradiction on your part to take action of who to fire the way he wants.

      in the same meaning who can add a day to their life no human can only the one who. Gave it to you from the start.

      can and will do as he see's fit.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      @Kiss

      Thanks! Agape!! :)

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      To JOPlanco I just seen your comment to me , I surely appreciate that scripture you applied , and I really appreciate how you express truth.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks you Christine Fontes for sharing your personal story. Some Christian churches do preach that mankind is sinful and evil, and I believe this is a very harmful thing to teach to children. I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can see it was hard for you to change your beliefs, but I know you will be a better stronger person for it. You might enjoy my hub "What is Secular Humanism."

    • Christine Fontes profile image

      Christine Fontes 2 years ago from South Bend, Indiana

      I'm new to HubPages and this happened to be the first one that caught my eye! Thank you so much for creating this, I can very much relate because I was born into christianity and was a firm believer and spent my teen years serving in the church as a worship leader and so on. When I was 17 I left the church and ventured into other things searching for true enlightenment. It was the best decision I could have ever made, although I lost many dear friends I realized the true meaning of this beautiful Life, I realized how much religion had stolen from me, and regained my consciousness. I used to believe my battle was between my flesh and spirit until I died, but now, I know that the real battle started when I was born, and it was a battle for whoever could get to my mind first. I realized that being made in the image of God actually meant that we are all creators. Religion taught me that Mankind was Evil by Nature, but Nature taught me there was no such thing. Much love and peace. Thank You!

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Sorry, Catherine I didn't mean to get off topic, was just looking for a yes or no answer.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      That is respected , just answering a question.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Just a reminder to everyone. This is not a forum. I welcome comments related to the issue addressed in the hub. Please stay on topic. Other issues can be discussed in your own hubs or in the forum. Thanks.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      Tsad You should Know by now I am a Jehovah Witness, And My Family as well, with careful research people should truthfully know Jehovah witnesses are not an occult that statement is false ,Jehovah witnesses are all bible students, you do not just say you want to be a Jehovah witness you study the bible and it is up to you to apply what you learn, and it is up to you to say this is the truth,the only way I can help you see that this is an untruth is go see on jworg, there is also a video of what is going on in the Kingdom Hall ,

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      tsadjatko: I doubt whether or not we will know why pedophile priests and those who covered for them did what they did. I did not research that topic for this hub. I wanted to focus on the good people in the church hierarchy who just happen not to believe in the dogma.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Catherine, I agree it is very hard to understand that a true believer would behave so irresponsibly but although we may believe we all are still tempted by sin. I believe you can believe in Christ, actually be saved, but be so mislead by wrong doctrines and false teachings in a "church" that these things can happen. No doubt there were pedophile priests not there to serve God but only themselves posing as wolves in sheep's clothing but because of the failure of their shepherds (who will answer to God for the souls he has given them charge over) were able to wreak hell into the lives of their victims. The worst sin in these cases, where the priests were shifted around by their superiors to hide their sinful practices, will be born by those shepherds who knew but allowed such sin to go on. I wonder whole heartedly if THEY are really believers, but then only God can know their hearts.

      Thanks, K&T but may I ask, did you ever Google "Jehovah Witness Cult" and investigate all the evidence?

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      I so appreciate how you really expressed that truth! You have left me with nothing to say tsad! I surly appreciate you and your courage to speak up. I only hope there are more people like you !

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      tsadatko: Thank you for your comment. I agree with your suggestion that the actions of the clergy prove that don't believe. You mentioned the pedophiles in the Catholic church and the ones who protect them. Would they do such evil things if they really truly believed?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Joseph: Don't blame the messenger. It is not my fault that church leaders often don't believe the doctrines of the church to which they belong and in whose pulpits they preach.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      If there is an atheist in the pulpit this says a whole lot more about the authority in that congregation, the seminary and maybe the whole church. I don't see how an atheist could be in the pulpit without enablers in authority, just like the pedophile situation in the Catholic Church where Catholic hierarchy did not report sex abuse allegations to the legal authorities. It was shown that they deliberately moved sexually abusive priests to other parishes, where the abuse sometimes continued. This led to a number of fraud cases, in which the Roman Catholic Church was accused of misleading victims by deliberately relocating priests accused of abuse, instead of removing them from their positions.

      The problem if atheists are in the pulpit isn't with atheists, it's with shepherds who aren't watching out for the flock, faulty or probably false teachings and interpretations of the Bible, churches that are not based on God reaching down to man but on man reaching up to God, enforced by those in power in an attempt to maintain, increase, or abuse their power over others. This sort of "religion" is the creation of man and is not the intention or design of God.

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      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      @Kiss

      All of this “worthless fruit” is the reason so many millions have turned their backs on God and embraced Atheism, Witchcraft and Islam (Matthew 7:15-17) .

      What does the future hold for religions that produce rotten fruit? Jesus warned: “Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19) Yes, false religion will be chopped down and destroyed!

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      Your hub is truth, and even though it exist it certainly proves why people are fed up over religion, because people are wearing the collar but the tongue of satan.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Kiss andTell: Thanks for commenting. I think you are right about hypocrisy. I also think you are right about the church surviving its atheist clergy.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      Very enlightened hub , very real, but I see a view also ,

      Even though a person changes a course of believing in God , it is like a building you are standing in it but you do not feel the purpose of standing in it , so you finally walk out. But that does not mean that building will disappear because your presence is not there.

      Also it is an eye opener of hypocrisy in religion , yet as an example are we to be like Peter, are we to be like Judas , certainly our test of faithfulness will be tested to the full , rather that be in the flesh , for satan will prove who we are.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Thank you very much for voting and sharing. It is especially nice to have a share from someone who has different beliefs about religion than I do. Dialogue is possible! Based n what my friend Paul told me (the Paul mentioned in the hub) some in the seminary don't believe either.

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      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      By the way. I voted up and shared the hub

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Thank you for the reply. I didn't fully reply in the first as I was on my smartphone and wonderful as they are tying on a 4inch screen can be a challenge! I thought that the hub was amazing and bringing some valuable stuff to light.

      Yes I did set out my own beliefs rather strongly but that establish where I was 'coming from' rather than trying to cause any issues. I also wanted to try to show a little of my own experience at Bible college in finding people who hadn't had their faith 'pushed' before and didn't always know where to look for the answers suddenly finding that after College they would be in charge of churches.

      I have some really good friends who don't always see things the way I do and certainly don't see the Bible in the same way. We've learned a lot from each other and have had our faith strengthened at times because of the ability to see things from someone else's perspective.

      What I was trying to get at is the value of having or being a friend to that young pastor or student in seminary and dealing with these issues for the first time.

      I always remember a saying about this kind of thing that helped me "Doubting your beliefs is OK, But believing your doubts is when the trouble comes!"

      In the Army we always used the "Buddy" system and that "Buddy" was the one who not just looked after you out in the field but you became closer than siblings. I think we can use that in our churches to help both ourselves and our ministers to serve both their congregations and their God and 'stay the course'

      Awesome hub.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I appreciate your very thoughtful comment. My belief is that the Bible is a mix of history, poetry, myth, and fable. My research suggests that many clergy believe the same thing. Many do not accept things like Christ's virgin birth and resurrection as literal truth. The actual proportion of non-believers among ordained religious leaders is unknown. The surveys that have been done suggest that at least 15% believe that God is a "social construct." I watched the recent CNN special on atheism and they featured several clergy members who no longer believed. I also have known some people who left seminary or clergy because they no longer believed. I did further research and wrote "Atheists in the Pulpit" about this.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I read this hub with great interest. Firstly I'll point out that I'm am a strong believer in the Bible but not so hot on established religion.

      I did go to Bible college and was surprised to find most of my fellow students had never read their Bible all the way through!! To me that is a major failing! How can they be expected to teach from a book they've never read?

      Don't get me wrong, I don't think it necessarily the issue of the people but no one mentors them! No one even explains to them how to prepare for what's coming.

      When I came to faith I was in the Army. I knew finding a local church to disciple me would be a challenge as I was constantly on the move so I turned to books where I learned some important lessons. To me the key is disciplining those coming through in faith.

      Some of the hubs I've written are about looking for the historical evidence that supports events in the Bible but as for believing that's between you and God.

      Karl Barth once said 'the Biblevmay not be the word of God, but as the Holy Spirit takes and applies a verse to you it becomes God's word to you'

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Joseph O Polanco: It seems you have gotten way off topic. I'm concerned that you might be confusing others about what the topic of my hub is. Please consider writing your own hub to make your points or putting your comments on to a hub that deals with the issues you are referencing.

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      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      @Titen

      Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Elizabeth Bathory, Brian And David Freeman, Nelson Byrdwell, Edmund Kemper, Joshua Phillips, Willie Bosket, Laurie Tackett, Brenda Anne Spencer, Jon Venables, Robert Thompson, Jesse Pomeroy, Mary Bell, Andrew Golden, Mitchell Johnson, Jamie Rouse, Barry Loukaitis, Talat Pasha, Margaret Sanger, Josef Mengele, Reinhard Heydrich, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, Kim Il Sung, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Emperor Hirohito, Nero, Caligula, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Leopold II of Belgium, Tomas de Torquemada, Mao Zedong, Ivan the Terrible, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Vlad Dracula appear to be innocent little angels too in their childhood?

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      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      In the English language "murder" and "killing" are distinct terms. Murder is defined as, "the crime of unlawfully killing a person." Therefore if a killing is lawful, such as in self-defense or with the execution of an evil criminal, it's NOT murder.

      As Sovereign of the Universe and Judge Of All Creation our Creator is obligated to put ungodly, evil persons to death even au masse. This is what is known as "dikaiocide". Genocide is something else entirely.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      travmaj: My objective in this piece is not to debate religion or the Bible, but to discuss the fact that many ministers, priests, rabbis, preachers, imams, etc. no longer believe the tenets of their faith.

      You can say these people are making a mockery of their religion if they stay in their positions, but I suppose they would say that they are staying true to their calling. Their calling is to help people and if keeping their personal beliefs secret and telling people what they want to hear is what they feel they need to do, they are willing to live with the pain that causes them. Some stay to try to modernize their religion. Some stay because they need the job.

      I don't judge. I don't mock. I just report.

      Not every clergyperson is an atheist. But apparently a great many are. (By the way, I use the term atheist for convenience; some may say they are agnostics or that they have doubts.)