5 compelling stories of current preachers who have undergone earth-shaking changes in their beliefs. This is an incredible story that really makes you wonder what, in fact, the guy at the pulpit really thinks about what he is preaching to you and to the masses on Sunday. It certainly is encouraging in one respect to think how seminary studies can actually lead people away from god because they get to fully understand the whole thing, the history, how the book was compiled and edited, etc. I imagine it's VERY eye-opening for someone not ready for it. But you really do start to feel for these pastors and what kind of a sticky situation they find themselves in because they have devoted their whole life to something they thought would be a life-fulfilling venture of helping people and being inspirational.
You find that these people are locked in, fear of exposing themselves to their congregations and worse, their families. Also, many of them have little or no options financially to leave either, as their education was spent in something that they could never use anywhere else, not to mention housing issues and other factors that would be involved in leaving the church. These pastors are so dependent on the system, that they have no where else to turn, no one with whom to share, no network of people outside the parish. It is an unbelievable dynamic for which there aren't many clear options. Of course, the other side of the coin is that even though these pastors now know the truth about their own religion, because they are afraid to reveal themselves as frauds, they do not divulge important information that all people need to hear about their respective religions. It seems it is a sacred trust among pastors that they do not divulge the absolute secrets that they learned in seminary and the examples given by these specific pastors really tell the tale. The main reasons are the attendance numbers and the donations of parishioners. If they find out it's not true, many of them will stop going and then the church receives less in the coffers. The other reason is that they will be out of a job if everyone found out what they knew, and then what would they do?
It seems a double-edged sword, balanced by personal fear of their own situation becoming unstable against really doing what they set out to do in the first place: helping people find "the truth". I don't know if there are any anonymous support groups for these types of pastors, but I feel it is important to get the word out, regardless of the personal outcomes. Families can be torn apart, but when taken as a whole, this whole fragile world can be torn apart and lost for everyone by people who do take this thing seriously who have not heard the truth behind the myths. And that is a terrible risk to take just to try to keep your own little boat from rocking. My advice to these pastors is follow your heart and don't be afraid to speak up. The people who truly love you will still be there for you and the ones who loved you only for your beliefs were not true friends or family anyways. There will be amazing people waiting for you on the other side.
One of the pastors mentioned how he needed the congregation for fellowship with others and because he had great friends in the church, but you can have all of that without church too. There are some incredible people out there who are not tied down by religious dogma, or at least do not judge what others believe and you can have some amazing, rewarding and comforting friendships without god. Not only that, but the internet is filled with support networks for people "coming out" as non-believers. There are avenues to take that can really open some doors. I think of The Thinking Atheist, who was once a pastor or involved heavily behind the scenes just like the people in this study, who is now using his deep knowledge of christianity as a weapon for truth in the atheist community, he has built a successful website and does seminars and podcasts and has helped fuel this movement with important information that mostly insiders in the church are privy to, not to mention something that is worthwhile personally, intellectually and if there is a such a thing, spiritually... or the lack of dogmatic spirituality that is so freeing for the mind. Helping others (and yourself) find the way to the truths about the universe is extremely rewarding personally and culturally, and one of the main reasons I do this blog.
The Thinking Atheist - Website