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For current and former religious professionals without supernatural beliefs.
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    • The Clergy Project
    • The Clergy Project

    Tony D

    tony d

    I grew up in a proud United Pentecostal Church family in the Bible Belt. Words and concepts like “holiness,” “shouting,” “anointing,” and “apostolic” were and are important in UPC circles. For those unfamiliar with the jargon, these terms stand for rigid codes of physical dress and behavior, highly physical expressions of worship, a belief that followers could be “in tune” with the Holy Ghost (speaking in tongues is required as “proof” of being filled with the Spirit, which is necessary for salvation), and a literal translation and application of the whole Bible (as interpreted through the book of Acts as a lens). I know some of this sounds tedious to outsiders. I know some of it sounds ridiculous. But it was my sub-culture, my world, from the moment of birth, and to me, the idea that we were right and the rest of the world was wrong—it was a self-evident fact.

    Chris Highland


    Chris serves on TCP's Communications Committee. 

    Raised in the Presbyterian Church near Seattle, WA, singing in choirs and being a youth group leader, it seemed natural for me to end up a pastor (especially since I was born on Christmas!). High school gave me wonderful mixed flavors of Jesus Juice (Baptist, Presby, Campus Crusade, Pentecostal) with endless Bible studies, prayer and praise. At (conservative Methodist) Seattle Pacific University I pursued Biblical studies but was most drawn to Philosophy. My mind was finally being challenged to reflect on my faith among many faiths. I was fascinated by World Religions and read all I could of the scriptures of the world: the Tao, Vedas, Gita, Dhammapada, Qur’an, Analects of Confucius and more. My faith grew to be less exclusive and more curious—unafraid of questions. I hung out at a hip house church led by a “Messianic Jew,” played foosball with Muslim students and had unchurched friends. My world was expanding and evolving quickly.