How does someone go from being a pastor to being an atheist? As I have never pursued the role of church leader I don’t know what it takes to become a leader. But how does someone who was a church leader, now come out and say he/she no longer believes? People can be atheist or agnostic, that is their choice.
But when the leader of the church steps down and says he/she does not believe, it makes you wonder if anything they said as a religious teacher was from the heart… or them just doing a job. Instead of flipping burgers in a dead end job, someone is leading people in church for a dead end job. This story from CNN talks about “Unbelieving preachers get help to ‘come out’ as open atheist.” The personal story featured here makes it sound like the preachers at one time believed, but then lost faith after serving in a church for a while. But it’s not like the preacher flipped a switch and stepped down as soon as he stopped believing. At some point before stepping down, the preacher was preaching things he/she no longer believed.
It makes you wonder how many other religious leaders are “teaching” things they don’t believe. I feel fortunate to have attended churches where I felt confident in the teacher and the people attending the church. I didn’t feel like people in leadership were having any crisis of faith. But it still raises questions about religion and the teachers.
What if the leaders of Westboro Baptist Church (the group that pickets military funerals) doesn’t really believe what they are preaching? How stupid would people attending Westboro Baptist feel if they found out the leaders didn’t “really” believe in their message? What about Terry Jones in Florida (Quran burning and most recently hung an effigy of Obama in front of his church)? What if Jones turned out to be a media attention seeker instead of “really” believing in God?
People in church congregations, whether they are in a mainstream American church or some super-conservative church, have the responsibility of holding their church leaders accountable. It doesn’t matter if the religion is Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist, or some other … if people are going to play “follow the leader”– they better KNOW that their leader believes in what he/she is preaching.
I’m questioning the blind followers. Depending the leader… he might ask you to help with a fund raising bake sale, or picket a military funeral, maybe ask you to burn a Quran, or perhaps fly passenger planes into a skyscraper. Does your “leader” believe what he is preaching? Or is your leader just working a dead end job to pay the bills? If you’re not sure, why are you following?