Patrick Greene Changes His Mind About Converting to Christianity

I don’t really want to post this. The guy has received far more publicity than he deserves. But, given the circumstances, I kinda feel obligated to…

I previously posted about how Patrick Greene had received donations to alleviate his poor vision from atheists and Christians, then told reporters he had been helped by Christians (and not atheists), then told reporters he had converted to Christianity.

Patrick Greene

Now, Greene says he has changed his mind. He’s not a Christian after all. He writes in an (unedited, verified) email:

I am sorry to tell you , that I announced that I had become a Christian much too soon. It was out of the entire hype that surrounded all the loving, kindness, compassion and warmth of my relationship with Jessica Crye and Rev. Graham. After reading all the messages and emails from dozens of people, I realized that, after 50 years of being an atheist, I cannot continue this. I have examined my conscience thoroughly over this past weekend. I cannot go on thinking and feeling that I have changed my heart and mind. I haven’t. It goes against everything I have spent my life accomplishing. Especially since I cannot change my attitude toward gay rights and abortion. I spent many hours looking at the sight for the gay baptists and realized my error. Thank you very much for all your help.

So he’s not a Christian after all. (Though I’m sure many will be quick to point out that you don’t have to change your mind about abortion/gay rights in order to become a Christian — you only have to accept Jesus.)

Now, let’s see if the places that were all too eager to report on his conversion follow up with this postscript. (Christian Post, I’m looking at you.)

Meanwhile, everyone else can stop taking him seriously, regardless of the message. I apologize about posting anything about him in the first place.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Roxane

    I can’t even imagine what life would look like if I were living it from his point of view.  

    • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters The Godless Monster

       It’s possible, but the procedure is not without some pain.
      First hit yourself on the head several times with a heavy metal object, preferably a hammer. Second, drop 2 hits of blotter acid (LSD) and once you begun to come down, engage in a 2 hour discussion with my ex-wife on subjects that she is totally unfamiliar with; let’s say…warmth and human compassion for example. Your brain will be complete mush at this point.
      Then you can imagine what life would be like from his point of view.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Godless Monster has the recipe. This is what it would look like visually:

      • Coyotenose

         How….

        …how?

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          How do I do that? Well, it takes a lot of effort, and I can only maintain it for three or four seconds. I really concentrate to convince myself that I believe two diametrically opposed  and mutually exclusive ideas.  Once they’re in my head, I have such a low tolerance for cognitive dissonance that they have this splitting effect on my vision. I feel like my body is pulling apart too.  It’s not painful, it just feels weird. It’s probably not good for me, so I don’t do it very often.

          • Coyotenose

             It hurts to WATCH. Stupid atheist human empathy, making me feel others’ discomfort. Damn Satan for putting this biochemical reaction in us!

  • http://donaldmorton.wordpress.com/ Donald Morton

    Unfortunately, he’s still an idiot.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I’m not sure about his early beliefs, but if he once was a believer, then he changed his mind. Then recently he changed his mind back, and now he’s changed his mind yet again. Or has he just changed his mind about whether or not he changed his mind the second time? Maybe that one was a dud change of mind, and it didn’t go off. Well, regardless of whether or not this latest change of mind is one that works, and regardless whatever the heck it’s changing about, if I never hear from or about this guy again, it will be too soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/King.Dominic Dominic Hinkins

    *obliged

  • Hammerud

    What difference does it make if he is a Christian or not a Christian if there is not God? With no God, Christianity is just as empty as atheism. Nothing has any meaning and permanence, and atheism elevates nothing.  Good people suffer, bad people prosper, both end up the same, dead like a beast.  Cruel people face no judgment, good people receive no reward. It is all empty and vain.  Also, where does the conscience he mentions come from?  To go through life and not seek God is a heart issue, not an intellectual issue.  Rejecting a lot of the obvious nonsense in religion is just an excuse used by many for not seeking God  because in the heart of hearts we really don’t want God  (we have “turned everyone to his own way,” as Isaiah states).  God has made His reality and power clear through creation so that man is “without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) 

    • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

      There is so much in your comment that is not even wrong. For one, things can have meaning without gods, but humans have to create it or determine it for themselves, not be told what has meaning from on high. And the notion that people reject the Christian God because they don’t want God is patently false; I and many other nonbelievers wrestled with our beliefs for a long time before finally abandoning them under the harsh light of actual scrutiny, and for some deconverts, that process is emotionally difficult (it wasn’t as much for me because it happened over a very long time in minute increments). Finally, the Romans 1 verse ignores the fact that creation is not in fact clear evidence of a creator, and suggesting that it does is just special pleading. Try again.

    • Taxihorn

      Nothing has any meaning? What about all these people who have strong opinions on things that matter to them? Atheism is empty? What about the whole frickin’ awe-inspiring universe out there, ours to explore and decide how we fit in it. Good people suffer? Yes. Bad people prosper? Yes. Both end up the same, dead like a beast. Yes. None of that is news, but it sure can make us grateful for the life we have, and our opportunity to do something (we find) meaningful with it. Cruel people face no judgement? I would say there is at least a social cost to being cruel, if not a legal one depending on the circumstance. Good people receive no reward? Sometimes, but being good in itself can be intrinsically valuable. It is all empty and vain? Speak for yourself. My life is full of meaningful wonder, surprise, art, music, family, friends, striving, failing… Where does one’s conscience come from? That’s an emergent property of social beings learning to see from someone else’s perspective–also known as empathy. To go through life and not seek God is a heart issue as opposed to an intellectual issue? Many of us, including it would seem Patrick Greene have sought this God we’ve been told about, with both heart and intellect, and have found both susceptible to fallacy. Rejecting a lot of obvious nonsense in religion is just an excuse for not seeking God? What about the obvious nonsense of God itself? Man has made God his reality through wishful thinking, ignorance, rhetorical techniques and logical fallacies. Growing up, opening our eyes to religion as story, and recognizing the power of story and its use as metaphor, can be insightful, meaningful, and bring one peace–particularly when one is freed from the manipulative tool of “divine” judgement.

    • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

      Alternate response: Go read the book of Ecclesiastes and get back to me about meaning and the transitory nature of life.

    • Coyotenose

        Very ironic that you talk about “rejecting the obvious nonsense in
      religion” while trying to use that same nonsense as the basis to rail
      against atheism on long-rebutted grounds.

      If you don’t see meaning without a god, that’s your problem to overcome
      or not. All we can do is offer philosophy and sympathy about it if you
      sincerely wonder how it works, rather than simply seeing it as a
      convenient torch to burn straw men. In the meantime, we are neither
      responsible for your existentialistic boogeymen, nor defined by your
      ignorance and factless stereotyping.

      Just because we all end up in the same place – dead – doesn’t make the
      journey less important. Actually, it’s the opposite; no one can fix
      anything we do, so we as empathic beings are solely responsible for
      doing right by one another and by ourselves, with no hope of any reward,
      either given or earned, past the span of our lives. It’s in our hands
      to mold cultures and individuals that want to share joys and ease pains
      without prompting from twisted phantoms of guilt passed down through
      centuries, that don’t allow themselves to be fooled and used by
      charismatic sociopaths and narcissists who have a knack for
      misrepresenting the meaning of myth, and that want to see things
      bettered for an insignificant amount of time in an insignificant amount
      of space just because they love one another and think that mote of joy
      that they only hope some stranger will eventually experience in the middle of their own journey is worth lifetimes
      of work.

      Most of us will build a sand castle with a child, knowing it will
      disappear forever in a few hours. If you can understand why without
      invoking “God”, then you should have already known how senseless your
      claims were.

      • Coyotenose

         Run-on Sentence Runs On… And On. I should have slept on that before posting.

    • Marco Conti


      Rejecting a lot of the obvious nonsense in religion is just an excuse used by many for not seeking God  because in the heart of hearts we really don’t want God” 
      In my heart of hearts I find the idea of a god preposterous. If I knew he was real, I would not want to deny him but I would want to study him. His existence would rewrite what we know about our reality in a very significant way.
      As far as lives being empty, I beg to disagree. I may end up worm food, but before I get there I want to look at as many babies smiling as I can. I want to listen to Verdi’s “Requiem” and watch a sunset on the San Francisco Bay. I want to love and be loved and I want to make things that are useful, or beautiful or both. I want to help my fellow humans so that more of them can appreciate great music and great art instead of toiling a in a thankless job or suffer from poverty. I may not accomplish everything I set out to do but I’ll try; when the last hour comes and I am about to dissolve into nothing with the cruel and the good alike I can say to myself that I could have chosen to do nothing, but I did something. 

      • Jerry Dobson

        I am a Christian. I’m glad that I can know through the Christian evidences that my God has made available, that He does exist, and that ending up only as worm food is not what I have to look forward to when I die, and that I will not dissolve into nothing, but will live eternally, It seems to me that you are doing a lot of good things, but because you refuse to get to know the truth of God’s existence, and obey His will, as an atheist, you have nothing to look forward to in death if you are right,  and even worse to look forward to if you are wrong, which I can assure you, you are wrong. See Lee Stroble  “The Case For A Creator” and “The Case For Christ” …   See Apologetics Press  and Focus Press…  See  “A Question of Origins”  Eternal Productions production. This is just the beginning of a world of available information.

        • shramana

          Worm food? Is that the only way you can reflect on your life? Your comments convey more about your sense of self than that of atheists. When I reflect on my life, I am so grateful for the decades I’ve spent with my family and friends, the joyful moments I’ve experienced with my wife and children, and the lessons I’ve learned from failures and been able to pass on. I think of how fortunate I am to have been born in an era where we’ve made so many great advances in our knowledge of our vast universe. I have been able to learn and do things that would not have been possible for people living a century ago, or even for billions of people today. It breaks my heart to see the masses of people around the world struggling and toiling in poverty. It pains me to see the suffering of millions of innocent men, women, and children dying from painful afflictions. There is no justice for their suffering, no divine plan or omnibenevolent deity intending it to happen for some divine purpose. 

          It serves to remind me of how grateful I need to be for the life I’ve lived, and that I have to do all I can to help reduce their suffering. And yet, according to you, we’re supposed to be dissatisfied with our lives and mourn the immortality you foresee for yourself? If the only way you can think of yourself in death is as “worm food”, I would suggest you spend time in this life working to leave a legacy for your family and friends that is worth remembering and cherishing – rather than prophesying to atheists about their impending doom. 

        • Coyotenose

           I can assure you, your apologetics have been thoroughly shredded for years, in some cases many decades, and that you have nothing to base your claims of being right upon except the desire to be right.

          Why do you assume that absolute death is “nothing to look forward to”? DYING is scary. BEING DEAD is nothing to worry about at all. To paraphrase Mark Twain, we were already dead for fourteen billion years. Being back in that state isn’t really the least bit inconvenient (although getting there is a bitch).

           Considering how difficult things become after less than a century of living, we can see that much longer would be tremendously unpleasant, and in time maddening.

          Imagine knowing right this minute with certainty that the monstrous injustice is occurring of one person being tortured infinitely for a finite offense. Now imagine knowing that outrage all the time FOREVER.

          You can’t. Humans aren’t built to comprehend that sort of madness, which is one of many reasons why discussion of an “afterlife” is moronic at its base.

          Also:
             1.If you don’t think that would outrage you, there’s something seriously wrong with how you view existence and other people.
             2.If you think God will take away all your negative feelings and give you eternal bliss, you’re saying that the afterlife strips you of who you are, in which case: what’s the point of continuing to live after death?
             3. As a corollary to #2, if God takes away all suffering after death and replaces it with bliss, and your soul after death isn’t burdened by things like the numbing effects of eternal amounts of time passing, then that really isn’t the same “You” anymore, in which case:
          Why would you continue to be punished after death! That’s more psychotic than torturing a severe Alzheimer’s patient because he committed a crime when he was young and mentally competent.

        • Rosemary Lyndall Wemm

          Lee Stroble’s apologetics are not convincing unless you have been already indoctrinated to believe in a Christian style god and you have little or no ability to apply critical thinking and good scholarship. 

          Strobel, like all apologists for religions, commits logical fallacies by the bucket load.

          If you have never familiarized yourself with the Case for the Prosecution then the Case for the Defensive  can seem quite persuasive, especially if the belief system has been stamped into your unconscious before you were capable of critically examining it.  The ideas are just plain crazy to an adult with American College Level education who was never indoctrinated into that religion.  They begin to appear crazy to someone who was indoctrinated but, as an adult, familiarizes themselves with the reactions of skeptics and those who were never indoctrinated in the first place.

          If you think that Stobel makes sense then it is unlikely that you have bothered to investigate the Case for the Prosecution.  That means that you are making an Argument from Relative Ignorance and have reached your decision on the basis of material that is so biased that is would result in the declaration of a Mistrial in any court of law that was concerned with truth discovery.

    • Anonymous

      Huh? From my perspective words have meaning and certains truths have permanence, so you are wrong about that. Not so sure why you think “elevating” is so important. I don’t need to elevate what is important. If it is important in it’s own right then it will be where it should be in the first place. Good people suffer and bad prosper regardless of whether one believes nonsense. You are wrong in that cruel people do face judgement all the time and the same goes for good people receiving rewards. I could continue through the rest of your nonsense but you get the idea.

  • Notachristian666

    Honestly, I don’t see it as an issue. The man felt drawn in while dealing with an unexpected illness and unexpected compassion (from an unexpected group!) Have none of you ever ‘thought’ something was genuine, yet soon realized that wasn’t the direction you wanted at all? Any relationships that seemed a good idea in the beginning, but quickly changed your mind?  Unless there is more to the story than what is on this page, I don’t understand why its a big deal that the man briefly questioned his own beliefs. Sure, it isn’t the best way to accept a gift, but at least he was honest enough to recognize the mistake and then own up to it.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters The Godless Monster

    I suppose another way to look a this is that he decided that he couldn’t be bought off. So, while he may indeed be weak-minded, emotionally vulnerable or just an idiot, he eventually (at least for now) made the right decision. He corrected what wrong he had committed. That’s better than sticking with a bad decision, right?

    • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

      I think the man was in a very difficult place in his life, and he proved to be all too human.

  • http://andybreeden.com Andy Breeden

    Throw him back in the water.

  • Rieux

    The guy certainly appears to be a twit, regardless of what he believes about gods.

  • http://twitter.com/TheDudeInSF Dean Mabury

    DANG! That was some pretty strong Koolaid.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    It takes a lot for me to be angry at someone who has fallen victim to the weaknesses of our species. This man is more to be pitied more than anything else.

    • Coyotenose

       Was someone angry about him? He’s confused, a little dumb in some ways, a little disingenuous, and pretty opportunistic, judging from details provided earlier. The only reason he’s mattered this past week is because professional Christian liars and fallacious thinkers invariably ascribe unwarranted importance to a “conversion”. See the “Lady Hope” hoax, which they’re still citing well over a century later and which wouldn’t have mattered even if it were true.

    • Coyotenose

       Addendum: I’m not saying he doesn’t matter. I meant that this is only a story because of other people who were trying to get traction for their religion off of his conversion.

    • Marco Conti

      I would think that losing your eyesight would be a pretty frightening  situation to be in.  We can rationalize all we want, but unless we find ourselves in the same situation it is hard to fathom how we would react.

      Some years ago, I was given no more than 6 months to live. I went from stunned, to angry, to self pity and finally I decided to fight. As I am writing this, I obviously won the battle (we are all going to lose the war) but in the process I went through some pretty awful thought processes. 
      I am not sure how I would have reacted if a bunch of religious people rallied around me and gave me at least some hope. I’d like to think reason would have prevailed, but the choice was not put in front of me, so I’ll never know for sure.

      But I remember the terror and the desperation all too well.  Were I a Christian, I would not be too proud that it takes something of that magnitude to convert an atheist. If Christianity was as good as they say it is, why does one have to be dying or going blind to accept it?

      • Justahokie

         I’m glad you won the battle.  I had a few thoughts as I read your post.  1. Even though no Christians overtly reached out to you how do you know you did not have Christians praying for you?  Nurses at you doctor’s office? Co-workers?  2.  Aside from the Christian prayers, who says that God cannot help even those who do not reach out to Him?   In the Bible it happened both ways – sometimes those who needed Jesus came to Him, sometimes He went to them. 3.  I have been a Christian most of my life and the majority of Christians I know did not have to have some dramatic recovery from a life-threatening illness, etc. to become Christians.  Some people do take that route though.  For some it takes an accident or illness to understand the true frailty of the human condition and to realize that there is something bigger than themselves in control of it all.    I think it is a big leap though to say that one has to be dying or going blind to accept it.  I have never been in either situation yet still see God at work in my life and those around me on a daily basis.  We can disagree on the existence of God, but not the existence of Christians and it is a mistake to assume that most Christians seek/find God through some tragedy when that is actually the exception, not the rule.

  • Gus Snarp

    And that’s done. I don’t care if the Christian Post prints the addendum, as long as no one ever mentions this guy again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    That didn’t last long. 

  • Keulan

    Either way, he’s still clearly an idiot.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously he was never a true Christian, but a false convert. Either that, or just a evil atheist scamming the good Christian folk for personal gain.

    • Anonymous

      Had he actually become a Pastor then I’d have to agree with your assessment.

  • bismarket

    Don’t apologize for the post Mr M, it’s been quite a popular subject & has probably had a few people wondering if they could ever see themselves doing the same thing in similar circumstances. I did & am happy to say that i don’t think i would. You have to be true to your convictions to really be Atheist & i’m pleased to see the guy did have some integrity, finally. We can all go back to ignoring this guy now (I hope).

  • Matt Westwood

    Despite the fact that you wish you had not mentioned him in the first place, the story is not about “him” so much as the experience that he shared with the world.  Atheist fell under the spell of human warmth and love, made an emotional decision as a result, then in the cold light of dawn realised that this emotional decision did not correlate with what he believed on an intellectual level.

    Message:
    a) It’s all right to receive love, even when not a xtian.
    b) It’s easy to let your emotions rule your intellect – beware.
    c) It ultimately doesn’t matter to anybody else but yourself.  Dree your own wyrd.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    No probs, I enjoy the photo of him giving Basement Cat a boost.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t understand how he could go from atheist to pastor in a New York minute.   This makes more sense but I don’t fathom the guy.    I was just trying to help him get past his immediate problem without him having to sacrifice whatever principles he had due to his illness.   I still don’t get how he’s flipped from needing $400 for immediate needs and saying the rest goes to the animal shelter to having enough money for a dream mobile home.    That doesn’t make sense and makes me feel like I’ve been had.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      It makes plenty of sense…it called fraud.

  • Anonymous

    Hey some folks make a dramatic change, its not my position to judge. I know many people who claim to have been atheists and are not fundies. That’s their prerogative. It’s a free country and you can choose what you want to do. It does bother me that people will use this example that there is a god and that i need to convert before it’s too late. 

  • Tyler Hutchison

    Fox News just reported to day on this man and his wonderful change to Christianity. They seam to be a little behind on the story. I bet they won’t say a word about him deciding to stay an atheist. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luis-Alberto/100000744171318 Luis Alberto

    He is not an idiot. He is an smart man. He receives  help so he says  that he has changed his beliefs.  Business are business

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rocky-Morrison/100001552602936 Rocky Morrison

      In other words, he was a fraud.

      My question is, how much cash did he get? LOL!

  • Steve Hopper

    Whether Mr. Greene was just a fraud, and whether or not the Holy Spirit ever truly convicts his heart, one thing is for sure: God loves him, no matter what. And true followers of Christ do, too. My prayer is that someday he really will come to know the peace that only Jesus Christ offers.

  • disqus_aue6WkVBhH

    As a Christian myself, I must admit he “gets it” much more than many who claim to be Christians. To be Christian is to be “like Christ” as His will is for us to be conformed to be like him, and as much as I think it’s heartbreaking that he refuses to honour Christ by changing his worldview and will be judged for that, he understands that to become a Christian requires change. A lot of people think they can claim the name and keep doing the same things they always did. God sees it much differently. When we see that we are fighting against the very One who loves us most, our response should be one of repentance and gratitude. A response in which these are not present is likely not a true faith in God at all.


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