Watch Three Preachers-Who-Became-Atheists Tell Their Stories

Brother Richard (Atheist Nexus), Jerry Dewitt (Recovering from Religion), and Ernest Perce V (American Atheists) all have backgrounds in the pulpit.

In the video below, they tell their stories:

As always, if you hear anything that needs to be spread, please leave the timestamp and summary in the comments!

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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293001320 Diana Winters

    There are people everywhere who never fell for the whole religion story. I hope these former theists aren’t automatically held in high regard just because they claim to no longer believe. 

  • Stella

    Ugh, the acoustics in that room were terrible. I wish I could read a transcript instead.

  • Person

    It takes great courage to come out against something you were raised since birth to believe is true and to give up EVERYTHING.
    It’s not a matter of ‘fell for’, it’s a matter of being in situation where everyone agrees the religion is true and you are raised in it’s truth’. There is no choice involved.
    Until they bravely decided to give it all up when they realized it is all bunk.

  • Kevin

    Does assigning “offices” (prophet, apostle, etc.) to  atheists advance the argument that atheism is another religion?

  • Sharon Hypatia

    Fundamental xtianity  usually all seem the same to me, so it was interesting to have input from three different flavors  of fundyism.
    Some interesting insight on how fundy preachers can rationalize their own sinnin’ (like having an affair) while railing against it in others.
    And, my gosh, masturbation is a REALLY BIG problem for these guys. For most people, it becomes as casual as brushing your teeth; for fundies, it seems to be, not as bad as, but worse than having an affair.
    The worst part is how they rejected vaccinations and medical treatments for their children and relied on prayer when their children became ill. I thought this was just a tiny kooky minority, even among the fundies.  If religion can making a loving parent into such a cruel stupid f***in’ asshole, then let us shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in a baptismal font.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    I have a suspicion (admittedly unsupported by much evidence) that the incidence of atheism is actually higher amongst pastors than it is in the general public. Why? Because atheism (when it replaces theism) seems to come from reflective thought in intelligent people. I think the element of reflectivity is pretty critical. And pastors are probably amongst the most reflective of people, and (outside of many fundamentalists) have generally good educations in theology, history, and philosophy. In short, exactly the sort of people you’d expect to abandon theism at some point.

    • Oberon

       There is a saying “If you graduated from seminary still believing the bible is without error, you weren’t paying attention.” 

  • Sindigo

    My vicar when I was a child (would you believe “Rev. Zeal”, I kid you not) was probably the most atheistic person in the church I attended. I can’t pin my Atheism on him or anything specific that he said (I was 11 when I left the church) but it wouldn’t surprise me one iota if something he said set me on the path.

  • http://twitter.com/TruthByTrial TruthByTrial

    It is strange watching former ministers talk about atheism, because their atheism hasn’t removed their “minister quality” about them.  Watching this, it feels someone made an atheist video but the only video filter they had in their editing software was the “Christian video blog” look. 

    Anyway, great content.  Thanks for sharing.

    PS: didn’t the guy on the left produce and direct the movie thriller “Red State” ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dee-Simpki/100002922301358 Dee Simpki

     I’m sorry, but watching this was embarrassing. The dude in the middle, Ernest Perce V, was a sophomoric twit, interrupting the others, bursting into song for the sole purpose of showing-off, and generally displaying a fraternity-brother’s mentality toward women. Plus, their references to deep-Dixie fundamentalism were lost on me.

    I’m sure a preacher/minister looking to come out as a skeptic is doing a lot of contemplative “soul”-searching.  If these three are the role models for the formerly-religious, they may be tempted to crawl back into the closet.

    • amycas

       I felt the same way about all of their talk of “lusting after women” or being “tempted by your brother or sister.” It reminded me of the lessons I got in Sunday School in junior high about how the girls needed to be careful of what they wore and what they did in front of the boys. It made me feel dirty just sitting in my own skin, and I got that feeling again in this video when they discussed it. These were the teachings that led me to stop attending Sunday School.

      I think they are still suffering from this mindset. They seem to still be thinking about things from a Christian point of view (like when they kept arguing over dogma that they don’t even believe in anymore). I feel like they spent too much of the video arguing over dogma and talking about the pretty women they used to see in church.

    • http://CoffeeShopAtheist.com/blog Patrick

      As a former evangelical Christian, fairly set for some time on a Seminary degree in Theology, I can identify with these guys in ways that I think you cannot.  These are men whose lives were warped by delusion for years, and are still reeling in the intellectual and philosophical freedom afforded by atheism.

      There is a different mindset present in a deconvert than in a steadfast nonbeliever, that can’t be explained.  I urge you to recognize that they are still products of their experiences, and the guilt-laden repression of sexual urges, the glossiola and constant references to higher-power/worlds beyond is 100% par for the course for who they were for decades of their lives.

  • Aldon Samaha

    This article and the comments that follow miss one stark fact: No discussion of a personal relationship with God. I believe that someone who has actually experienced God directly can become an atheist. He/she may change religions, but being a real believer is not an intellectual experience, it is a spiritual one. All I see here are comments on a purely intellectual level.

  • Aldon Samaha

    This article and the comments that follow miss one stark fact: No discussion of a personal relationship with God. I believe that someone who has actually experienced God directly can not become an atheist. He/she may change religions, but being a real believer is not an intellectual experience, it is a spiritual one. All I see here are comments on a purely intellectual level.


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