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For current and former religious professionals without supernatural beliefs.
  • Interior page slideshow

    Michal Pleban

    Why did I stop believing in God? The shortest answer would be that I ran out of excuses for him. Pentecostal Christianity stresses that God is actively involved in the believers’ lives, answering their prayers, communicating with them, and changing events around them. As a teenager, I loved this idea. I was raised in traditional Catholicism, where God, while powerful, was very distant. I always thought that if there is a God, I wanted to have close contact

    NealH

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    My religious life began in a Southern Baptist Church in Erwin, TN, a small town of five-thousand or so. My family left this church and began attending a Presbyterian Church when I was twelve years old when my brother and I came home after church to inform my parents that all Catholics were bound for hell.

    I became very involved in spiritual activity during the time of the “Jesus Movement.” From there I went to Asbury College in Wilmore, KY and acquired a degree in Religion and then went on to Asbury Theological Seminary. I decided not to follow the typical course into pastoral ministry and opted for a specialized curriculum in historical theology. My focus was on Eastern Orthodox history and theology.

    Mary Joyce

    I was a “cradle” Catholic.  My mother was divorced and not allowed to go to Mass, but she sent all seven of her children to Mass on Sunday and to Catholic schools.  I never understood that but I think going to Mass was the trade off for being allowed to attend Catholic schools which my mother thought were superior to the public schools. Sometime around 3rd grade I was apparently telling relatives that I was going to be a nun.This is what I did the summer I graduated from my Catholic, all-girls high school.

    Drew Bekius

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    DISCLAIMER: Drew has served as President of The Clergy Project.

    In many ways, my story is as stereotypical American evangelical as it gets. Complete with altar calls, Bible camps, and purity rallies. Or at least it starts off that way.

    I was raised in a small Baptist church in small-town Central Minnesota. Prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” when I was just three years old. Somehow spontaneously finding ourselves in the bathroom, I prayed that prayer with my mother, kneeling over the bathtub’s edge and repeating her words as my own, confessing my preschool-age sins while asking Jesus to come into my life and grant me the forgiveness I was told I had so desperately needed. From there it was a childhood of Sunday schools and AWANA programs, of youth groups and Bible studies.

    Carolyn Shadle

    carolyn-shadle I am a senior (age 74 at this writing) and only recently admitted to myself that I am an atheist.  I was brought up in a conservative (aka fundamentalist) Presbyterian church but went to a “liberal” Presbyterian college (The College of Wooster) where I was introduced to a more scholarly approach to scriptures.  From there I earned a Masters in Religious Education at Union Theological Seminary. 

    Ranier

    rainer The son of recent German immigrants, I was born in Western Canada in 1956. My mother grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home where guilt and shame were generously dispensed by her mother and later also by her grandfather. My father was a skeptic and nominal Lutheran who found it hard to stomach Christian hypocrisy and thus

    Calvin King

     I’m a former Mennonite minister who served in two congregations in Kansas for a total of 30 years before resigning and entering the business world as a human resource manager. I distinctly remember reading through the Bible in 6 months when I was eight years old. I was surprised by God’s anger and destructiveness. Still I believed.

    Robert Crompton

    robcromptonIt was November 1965 when, while still in my twenties, I walked out of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a disfellowshipped person.Because I had come to disagree – quite strongly, in fact – with many of the teachings of the Watch Tower Society, I was summoned before a judicial committee to give an explanation for myself. They probed and questioned, and questioned me again. Surely this was all just to cover up some other wrong-doing,

    Mark

    My life was the church. I grew up in the church. I went on numerous mission trips. I got a college degree designed to prepare me for church ministry. I worked as a youth pastor for several years. I got my masters degree in seminary. Finally, I found a great job as the senior pastor in a fantastic, growing evangelical church.  It was a wonderful place to work and I loved my job for over half a decade.

    Ches Smith

    ches In Southern Baptist circles, they say “once saved, always saved” as if there’s no going back. They say something similar about alcoholics so I can’t help but picture myself seated in a circle in the middle of a gymnasium, waiting for my turn to stand up and say, “Hi. My name is Ches and I’m a Jesuholic.” Anyway, I’m from Houston, married with three children, and I work as a computer tech at a middle school. I have a background in art and I’m also an

    John Laughlin

    john-laughlin John serves on TCP’s Screening Committee. Where to start??? I grew up in the home of a Southern Baptist minister in North Carolina.  I started Wake Forest College (WF) in 1960 and graduated in 1967. I would say that is because I am a slow learner but the truth is I dropped out of college in the fall of my sophomore  year and spent the next 3 years in the US Army (doesn’t mean that I’m NOT a slow learner!).  I Was

    Vic Milne

    My single-parent mother was not excessively religious, but she sometimes told me Bible stories with the assumption that they were true. She also sent me to a fundamentalist Sunday School because it was the nearest church. She attended church for a while but then stopped going. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was turned off because the congregation leaders canned the pastor in a very dirty way—gave him a pair of airline tickets to visit

    Terry Plank

    Terry Plank I went from agnostic to believer to atheist.  After my first 2 years of college and marriage  I became a “born again” Christian in the Church of Christ. Eventually I became an elder in the church, & after 5 years in retail management after college, I earned an M.Div. at Fuller Theological Seminary, and served 5 churches as a pastor. One of those churches included a street ministry in Venice CA in the 70’s.

    Gretta Vosper

    grettaI am one of the lucky ones and am able to be honest about my beliefs in the congregation I serve, a congregation of The United Church of Canada. I have served West Hill, www.westhill.net, for fifteen years. About three years into my ministry there, I was awakened to the reality that many of my congregants had not assimilated the progressive “metaphorical” understandings of Christianity that I had been exposed to throughout my