A Stanford anthropologist T. M. Luhrman has penned an op-ed piece in today's New York Times, arguing that belief is the least part of faith—at least for evangelicals. It turns out many are not all that sure of God's existence, but don't bother with the question because it's the kind of thing university-educated people ask—"pointy-heads" as Spiro Agnew used to call them. According to this lady, evangelicals are practical and they go to church to find out how to be closer to God and to find joy in the company of like-minded believers agnostics. Apparently this lack of concern with belief is something secular minds have difficulty understanding. (I vouch for that.)
That's something I've said over and over again on A/N - that a great many religious people do not really believe their religion.
Rather, there's an implicit understanding in their religious group that one doesn't ask those questions.
People set up a "Detour" sign in their minds, around questioning their religion.
To understand, you might ask yourself, have you ever set up such a "Detour" sign - in regards to anything - without knowing you were doing that? And you only recognized it as such, later?
I've heard the term: "Belief in belief." Is THIS where that would come in?
In any case, as Carl Sagan once said, "I don't want to believe; I want to KNOW," and belief for belief's sake without substantiation is a fool's errand.
There are nonreligious beliefs in our culture that people usually don't question. I can think of one that I accepted. I didn't realize intellectually that it was belief without evidence - rather, experience showed me it was wrong.
Religious people are in a subculture that contains different unquestioned beliefs.
The Clergy Project is a community for nonbelievers in the clergy, to support them in leaving it.
For the clergy and church officials, I would assume money was a big reason for maintaining the status quo.
That very likely, Lillie, but one other very important consideration: they've done the clergy thing for most if not all their adult lives ... and they don't know how to do anything else! Depending on where in the arc of their career they are when they realize their atheism, the business of finding a NEW career is by no means a simple matter. Seems to me I heard an interview on YouTube or elsewhere regarding the whole issue of reorienting and retraining lapsed pastors and preachers and rabbis, and it is a significant consideration.
He who carves the Buddha does not worship him. (Seen decades ago and remembered.)
The Clergy Project provides a place where clergy who don't believe can meet and learn, and perhaps gather the courage they need to leave their closets.
I have known several Catholic priests—all of them good people—who were unsure of their faith. The problem is they enter the priesthood before they really know themselves and when the doubts come, they have nowhere to go—they've committed themselves to a life from which they cannot escape. As priests they get a certain amount of respect that is difficult to give up. If they have talent and have progressed in the hierarchy, it is just all the more difficult.
One priest I knew played an important role on a campus and was respected by students and faculty as someone who genuinely helped students. He loved his position and the church hierarchy thought that in itself was a suspicious thing and reassigned him to a place they knew he would not like—as a way of teaching him humility. I don't imagine that helped his faith in the slightest.