My mini-story is in the Introduction section under New from Vermont. I'm a former ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
If there are any former ministers out there on the Nexus please post and tell why you entered the ministry, what denomination you were in, how long you were ordained and what brought you to becoming an atheist or non-theist. Also, how did that affect your relationships?
I'm surprised there have been no responses. I read an article about a study done not too long ago interviewing ministers who were still in the church but who were humanists or atheists and still in the closet. I've read a couple of books by ministers who have de-converted. Perhaps it's too sensitive a subject for people to post.
I "came out" several years ago at least to my then spouse (now "X"). Yes, the whole religion thing had a good bit to do with the recent divorce. In actuality I came to my own acknowledgment about 10 years ago. Since then, until just the last two months since the divorce, I have not been fully "out".
Interestingly now that I'm exploring being open I'm getting some very uncomfortable responses from people who already knew and who agree with me but who think I'm being "militant" or "hard". It's interesting how acceptable it is to be a "hard" religionist or a militant (metaphorically) religionist, mostly Christian, but it's "offensive" to be a "hard" atheist. I'm not dogmatic, just open and overt.
I have written a couple of posts, blog type articles on my natal blog which, admittedly, were extremely pointed but still.
I was a Presbyterian Minister for a number of years. Renounced my ordination ten years ago. A matter of relevance as well as a basic recognition that Nature is enough without super-nature. Maybe I'll say more soon. . . Published my story last year as Life After Faith.
I read Don Baker's book last summer. I was not as "public" as he was but I could still empathize and understand what he went through. Thanks for the URL from CNN. That is a study I had heard of and read the article. I'd be interested in reading the entire study.
Thankfully I no longer depended on the ministry financially by the time I gave it up. I had been in the full time ministry for three years then was without a church for a while during which time I found other employment. I decided I didn't want to depend on the church financially, had a good job with marketable skills and was able to continue doing the things I enjoyed most about the ministry without having to do all the other stuff required of pastors in the US.
I continued that way for many years serving in a number of churches. When I moved to Vermont I started pastoring a small church part time. It was during that three year period I finally began to be honest with myself about my doubts. I was counseling with a visitor at the church who was very intelligent and full of questions. More and more I realized my answers didn't satisfy me any more than they satisfied her. Eventually I left that church and just continued to attend another church and quietly question.
Finally I admitted that none of it made sense and indeed I found the Christian message abhorrent. None of what it promised seemed to be real either. I also realized my doubts had begun in seminary and continued throughout the ministry but I had simply pushed them aside. I wish now I had been honest with myself. But I was married to a believer at the time. The change was devastating to my relationships which is why I hid it for so long.
Finally when the kids were grown and the marriage was already on the rocks, I came out and that was the death-knell. I'm rebuilding socially.
Ministers have a way of leading a group, relating, comforting, etc. I don't think everyone has those qualities; i don't. Minus the religion, i kind of always respected that part of it, but it's about the human interaction. I think that's why a majority of people attend church. They take comfort in being in a group, and like the support. From my experience in being a catholic, no one really discussed religion after church. It was just a place to go to refresh yourself?, talk on the steps afterwards, see old friends, etc. I'm glad to have former ministers on our side, even if some can't be as open about it. Maybe some influential leaders can come out of it. They already have. Barker and matt dillahunty? comes to mind.
I was ordained in a Presbyterian denomination which most people would assume is liberal because it is Presbyterian. However, the denomination was the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Most of the teachers who founded Westminster Theological Seminary and the church itself, left Princeton Theological seminary in 1929 because it was too liberal. They would have then and would now consider themselves "fundamentalists" in the sense of the original meaning of the word as coined by Harry Emerson Fosdick a teacher at Union Theological Seminary at the time.
A Fundamentalist was one who held to the "fundamentals" of the faith.
"It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration—that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to a stenographer; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement—that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner; and that we must believe in the second coming of our Lord upon the clouds of heaven to set up a millennium here, as the only way in which God can bring history to a worthy denouement. Such are some of the stakes which are being driven to mark a deadline of doctrine around the church."
So, they are not of the Fred Phelps ilk but do believe in the absolute inpired and inerrant character of the Bible and take is as their only authority in matter of faith and practise. In that sense they are indeed very dogmatic about the absolute authority of the Bible.
The only way to break the spell is to attack the root which is the Bible and the irrational conviction it is the very Word of God. All else that is believed and taught comes from the Bible and is taught as absolute truth becuase it comes from the Bible. The issue of epistomology, how you know what you know, and the question of the nature of the Bible are, in my opinion, the keys.
Hello Dennis!! Well, I'm not really a former minister...just dropping in to say hello really. Actually, I'm an overzealous and thoroughly Irreverent Heretic; I enjoy proselytizing the denouncement of ALL religions, encouraging the berating of ALL true believers. My specialty is the total dismantling of any and all delusional thinking, particularly pertaining to an existence of anything that smacks of a CON JOB.