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A Pastor Who Is Secretly an Atheist Is Getting a Grant to Help Him Leave the Ministry for Good

February 26, 2013 By

Earlier this month, the Stiefel Freethought Foundation made a huge contribution to The Clergy Project to the tune of $100,000. The purpose: To help pastors-turned-atheists leave the ministry for good and learn skills that will help them transition into a secular career:

 

 

The first recipient of an "Employment Transition Assistance Grant" has now been announced on the Clergy Project's website: It's "Adam," a closeted atheist and current pastor:

 

For the last four years, I have felt trapped and at times hopeless because I am a closeted atheist pastor. After much reflection, I no longer share the religious beliefs of the faith community I serve. I belong to a fundamentalist, evangelical, Bible-believing denomination, which means if anyone found out about my change in beliefs, I would lose my job immediately and plunge my family into financial ruin.

 

For the last two years, I have secretly sought a secular job but have been unable to find one. While I have good skills that are transferable, I, like many other job seekers, have been facing tough competition and challenging economic conditions. Not being able to be open with others about my situation and my desires has compounded the difficulty. I became so discouraged that I eventually stopped applying for jobs and wondered if I would ever be able to leave the faith that I no longer accepted. While I longed to leave hypocrisy and pretense behind, I felt I had to put the security and wellbeing of my loved ones above my own comfort and learn to live with the pain of professing a faith I no longer believed.

 

Fortunately, I became a member of The Clergy Project and, thanks to the generosity of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, I am receiving valuable assistance in finding sustainable employment. Having the services of a professional outplacement service - including a highly trained transition coach, a resume writer, use of personality and skill assessment tools, access to numerous private training resources, and even handpicked placement opportunity leads - has made all the difference. I am once again hopeful.

 

I know I am not alone in my desire to leave the ministry, so I am very excited not only for the prospect of my own new life, but also for the prospects of my friends currently in ministry who want to lead a life centered on reason instead of faith. Securing secular employment will no doubt be the crucial first step in safely moving beyond faith to a much wider world of opportunity.

 

"Adam"

 

I asked the acting Executive Director of the Clergy Project, Catherine Dunphy, if she had any advice for "Adam" and she told me this:

 

Shortly after the Clergy Project launched in March 2011, Adam and I spoke about the challenges that our members face when leaving ministry and what was need to help them transition to secular employment. At the top of that list was the need for employment resources; thanks to Todd [Stiefel] and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation we now have the resources to respond to this challenge.

 

Adam is my friend, peer, and Clergy Project brother and I am tremendously excited about the potential impact this program has to assist him as he takes steps to transition out of active ministry."

 

And I'm excited about the fact that Adam won't be the first and last person leaving the ministry as a result of this program. There are no doubt many more pastors out there who don't believe in God, yet who stay in their jobs because of the paycheck. If there was a way out, they would take it. Like getting a big inheritance, the assistance won't solve all of their problems, but it will certainly help.

 

This is a way out.

 

by on Feb. 26, 2013 at 2:39 PM
Replies (61-66):
coolmommy2x
by Gold Member on Feb. 27, 2013 at 3:28 PM
Being a priest doesn't mean he has no other talents. He could go to school with loans and get a part-time job. Lots of people do it. If he was fiscally responsible for his church, he could get a job in business or sales. He could flip burgers. He could be a cashier at Walmart. I just don't see what is so special about him (or any former priest) over an average Joe.

Sorry to burst your bubble but it's not sour grapes.


Quoting pansyprincess:

 I don't believe you can ever collect unemployment if you voluntarily leave employment.  If you are laid off you can ... and even if you are fired (usually after some sort of waiting period) but not if you quit.  I know for a fact you can't in NJ ... maybe some states allow it.


But again, who in their right mind would quit a job that is keeping their family fed and clothes to have no income?  Is this really what you people think is the right thing to do?  Have no income, potentially lose your home, not feed your family?


The grant is specifically FOR THIS SITUATION.  No one is stopping you from starting a grant program for something that you think is a good cause, and needs money put towards it.  Now it just sounds like sour grapes "No one paid me money when I needed to leave my job, so I am bitter that someone helped this person".


If you are looking for a new job, chances are you are looking for one you just left, and already have some sort of skill set.  What job in the private sector is looking to hire a priest, who is no longer a priest? 




Quoting coolmommy2x:

A lot of companies offer training.

Couldn't he collect unemployment? Even if you quit, you can still collect (at least in some states) and the unemployment office has resources to assist with finding jobs and learning skills.

If he wasn't happy then I'm glad he left. Just not sure why he deserves a grant and special program to do it. Lots of people don't have skills but I don't see grants thrown at them.



Quoting pansyprincess:


 He did.  Did you read the article?  He said he has skills, but I would question that.  What kind of skills can he have?  I mean, he's probably a good speaker ... but that's not getting anyone a job.  Most of us can suck it up and do our jobs until we find another one ... it may not be fun ... but it's not a huge deal.



This guy was living a lie, and lying to his congregation on a daily basis.  This is the best case scenario for everyone.



 



Quoting nbgg8687:

Honestly... why doesnt he look fit another job. I mean.. I get he's atheist and a pastor. but what do normal people do when they don't like their job... they don't get a grant, they find another job.


 



 




 

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soonergirl980
by Silver Member on Feb. 27, 2013 at 3:50 PM


If it meant I was committing fraud and effectively stealing from the community that was putting that food on his table I would quit immediately. I am not a religious person but I respect other peoples religions and what he is doing is disgusting.

Quoting mikiemom:


did you not read the part about his family going hungry. Would you quit a job you hated if it were the only thing available and  keeping  your children from going hungry

Quoting soonergirl980:

Frankly he is quite pathetic the moment he decided he didn't believe in his faith he should have quit.





SuDoNim
by Member on Feb. 27, 2013 at 4:07 PM

This is exactly what causes so many pastors to walk away from church: too many parishoners who won't accept accountability for their own lives and spiritual paths. My husband is a pastor, and while he believes he was called to vocational ministry, he has to remind himself every day that it's man he has lost faith in, not G-d. You'd be surprised at how many pastors who haven't lost their faith frequently contemplate leaving the ministry. The trouble is, people often forget that pastors are just regular people; they have times of spiritual crisis, or question doctrine, but because they're supposed to be spiritual leaders, there's really no one to talk to without fear of reprisal. 

I feel for the people in the article; the demands many churches place on pastors doesn't leave them much time to have a second source of income outside the church. The only reason we are not in that perdicament is because I work and because dh has always maintained his license and certifications he earned before he became a pastor.


Quoting pansyprincess:

Are you telling me you believe your soul is in danger if you unknowingly were pastored to by an atheist?  You think god would hold it against you?  Obviously this man was towing the party line, because no one in his church outed him.  No one thought he was doing a bad job.  So obviously he was able to fake it fairly easily.  goes to show you that just about anyone can be a pastor ... perhaps he should go into acting?

And please stop pretending that people don't lose their faith.  I don't imagine that ANYONE goes into the ministry lightly.  He obviously lost his faith.  Faith which he once felt so strongly in that he made it his profession.  I see that your religion has not taught you compassion.  Hmmm ... seems like perhaps YOUR pastor is not doing a good job.  Uh oh ... maybe he's an atheist!


Quoting TranquilMind:

 The ministry, properly understood, is not a "job", like working at Walmart, where you keep stocking the produce until you find a new job.  It is a calling, that one should be darn certain about before he enters.  And you certainly don't continue to act as a pastor over peoples' SOULS while faking.  That's some serious crap there.

Geez.   



Quoting pansyprincess:

I feel terrible for him.  What you are missing is that most people do decide to leave a career or job that doesn't suit them anymore.  And they do that once they have secured a new position.  Especially if they are the sole provider for their family.  Do you know a single person that has quit their job just because they don't like it anymore, even though they support their family?  Cause that's sounds like a pretty stupid and irresponsible move to me.  This guy is using this organization as a means to speed up the process of him getting out of the church. 

I guess I don't get why you are so disgusted.  I'm sure he grappled with his decision for a long time ... don't' most believers have moments of doubt?  Once he figured out that he truly didn't believe, and therefore shouldn't be a member of the church, he looked for work.  And couldn't find any.  So he turned to this organization to get help

Are you so blinded by your fierce need to defend religion that you can't see this isn't AGAINST religion?  It's just a man that needed help and got it.  But of course there are going to be asshats like you that have to turn it into a person being absolutely horrible because they don't believe in your god.


Quoting TranquilMind:

What a revolting thought. 

A active, working, preaching, counseling pastor who is an atheist.  Wow.  What astonishing lack of character and ethics to keep THAT little piece of info under wraps and continue to pretend to serve your people with what you don't have to give.

So he can get another job.  It happens all the time when people decide that the current job - which is clearly ALL it was to this guy -doesn't suit him anymore.  Move on.  Nobody should have to pay for it, especially while you are actively deceiving people. 

Just ugh.   

It's not over til it's over, is the only good thought here. 









pansyprincess
by Silver Member on Feb. 28, 2013 at 10:12 AM

 Still sounds like sour grapes.  The average Joe has jobs skills that are not tied to believing in a diety.  So he can essencially look for a job that is no different than the job he is leaving.  Most pastors cannot.  And while I *could* flip burgers, or *could* work at Walmart, it wouldn't cover the income I receive now.  So I would be an irresponsible person and parent and spouse to quit my job before securing similiar income.  You don't quit a job until you have another.  That's common sense.

As for his skills, I'm sure every congregation is different.  But my priest didn't do the bills at our church.  It's not so easy to leave a better paying job for a worse one at the expense of your family.  That is why I think an organization like this is great.  It helps him transition into the secular world, and the church is free to get another leader in.  I just don't get why people don't see this as a win/win.


Quoting coolmommy2x:

Being a priest doesn't mean he has no other talents. He could go to school with loans and get a part-time job. Lots of people do it. If he was fiscally responsible for his church, he could get a job in business or sales. He could flip burgers. He could be a cashier at Walmart. I just don't see what is so special about him (or any former priest) over an average Joe.

Sorry to burst your bubble but it's not sour grapes.


Quoting pansyprincess:

 I don't believe you can ever collect unemployment if you voluntarily leave employment.  If you are laid off you can ... and even if you are fired (usually after some sort of waiting period) but not if you quit.  I know for a fact you can't in NJ ... maybe some states allow it.


But again, who in their right mind would quit a job that is keeping their family fed and clothes to have no income?  Is this really what you people think is the right thing to do?  Have no income, potentially lose your home, not feed your family?


The grant is specifically FOR THIS SITUATION.  No one is stopping you from starting a grant program for something that you think is a good cause, and needs money put towards it.  Now it just sounds like sour grapes "No one paid me money when I needed to leave my job, so I am bitter that someone helped this person".


If you are looking for a new job, chances are you are looking for one you just left, and already have some sort of skill set.  What job in the private sector is looking to hire a priest, who is no longer a priest? 


 


Quoting coolmommy2x:

A lot of companies offer training.

Couldn't he collect unemployment? Even if you quit, you can still collect (at least in some states) and the unemployment office has resources to assist with finding jobs and learning skills.

If he wasn't happy then I'm glad he left. Just not sure why he deserves a grant and special program to do it. Lots of people don't have skills but I don't see grants thrown at them.



Quoting pansyprincess:


 He did.  Did you read the article?  He said he has skills, but I would question that.  What kind of skills can he have?  I mean, he's probably a good speaker ... but that's not getting anyone a job.  Most of us can suck it up and do our jobs until we find another one ... it may not be fun ... but it's not a huge deal.



This guy was living a lie, and lying to his congregation on a daily basis.  This is the best case scenario for everyone.



 



Quoting nbgg8687:

Honestly... why doesnt he look fit another job. I mean.. I get he's atheist and a pastor. but what do normal people do when they don't like their job... they don't get a grant, they find another job.


 



 


 


 


 

mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Feb. 28, 2013 at 10:13 AM
1 mom liked this

 

Bull shit - you would not let your children starve. I don't believe that for one instant. I am calling you a blatent liar.

Quoting soonergirl980:

 

If it meant I was committing fraud and effectively stealing from the community that was putting that food on his table I would quit immediately. I am not a religious person but I respect other peoples religions and what he is doing is disgusting.

Quoting mikiemom:

 

did you not read the part about his family going hungry. Would you quit a job you hated if it were the only thing available and  keeping  your children from going hungry

Quoting soonergirl980:

Frankly he is quite pathetic the moment he decided he didn't believe in his faith he should have quit.

 

 

 

 


 

soonergirl980
by Silver Member on Feb. 28, 2013 at 1:28 PM


First of no ones kids are going to starve to death that is being quite dramatic, but I would not STEAL and COMMIT FRAUD no I would not. If you think I would then you do not know me.

Quoting mikiemom:


Bull shit - you would not let your children starve. I don't believe that for one instant. I am calling you a blatent liar.

Quoting soonergirl980:


If it meant I was committing fraud and effectively stealing from the community that was putting that food on his table I would quit immediately. I am not a religious person but I respect other peoples religions and what he is doing is disgusting.

Quoting mikiemom:


did you not read the part about his family going hungry. Would you quit a job you hated if it were the only thing available and  keeping  your children from going hungry

Quoting soonergirl980:

Frankly he is quite pathetic the moment he decided he didn't believe in his faith he should have quit.









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