Author Emily Dietle

My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks

With the current media buzz around The Clergy Project, and two of its graduates, Teresa MacBain and Jerry DeWitt, I wonder how this looks to religious people. It must be rather confusing on their end- rejecting these wonderful people, while the growing secular community welcomes them with open arms.  Perhaps they’re used to that experience, what with all their rejections of gay people over the years. I imagine it’s still disturbing though, as they truly believe that people like Terri and Jerry have lost their way- and that we’re “encouraging them to stray.”

It’s honorable for religious leaders that no longer believe in what they’re preaching to walk away from the ‘ministry’- to be honest with the people that they care about. It’s that level of honesty, clarity, and bravery that their ex-’flock’ should respect them for.

Instead of the hateful responses that believers are giving to ex-pastors, they would appear far less hypocritical if they would simply accept these individual’s right to think for themselves. Maybe, as a recent study shows, religious people are truly less capable of compassion- because they act out of obligation to doctrine, not because it feels right. 1 2

Even if you truly feel we atheists are “wasting our lives” or that we’ll “suffer eternally,” or simply not exist after life- just love us now, and support us as we choose to be honest with who we are. If I could share one thing with these congregants, and all families and friends of newly announced non-theists, it would be to remind them that while we may be rejecting their view that a god exists, we are not rejecting them.

If you are, or know someone that is, a non-believing religious leader, please visit The Clergy Project, and if you have recently left a religion, or are struggling with unanswerable doubts- there is support available for you with Recovering From Religion.