Humanists of Florida Association Sets Up Ex-Clergy Fund

A lot of you have been asking me how you can help some of the pastors who are now coming clean about their atheism.

Here’s one way.

The Humanists of Florida Association has set up a collection to help Teresa MacBain, who was featured in this NPR story.

Mark Palmer, the Executive Director of that group tells me (via email):

A few generous members of the HFA have agreed to pay (and have begun paying) about $4,000 but we are seeking additional donations. So, I created a chip-in with a $20,000 goal to get an Ex-Clergy fund established to help Teresa. If we raise more than $20K, the rest will help future Florida nonbelieving preachers who are trapped on the pulpit. All funds collected will go to Teresa up to a total of $20,000, but this chip-in is not the only route we are seeking donations. Any additional funds donated for this purpose will go to support other ministers who are making their way out. The HFA is a 501(c)(3) under the American Humanist Association.

It’s one way to help ex-pastors transition out of the pulpit and into a better place.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    You can also ‘like’  Teresa’s page, and check for speaking events in your area
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teresa-MacBain/180905208698369 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    Read the NPR story. It’s really brutal, what doing something like that can do to your life. I have a much older friend who took that choice, and he immediately had old friends – even childhood friends – shunning him from life, excluding and berating him at every chance they got. It’s awful that people would choose a God they can’t prove even exists over their closest friends. But I suppose God is their closest friend, in that respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/skepticsim Dennis Smith

    You can also donate to FFRF which is a non-profit and earmark it for The Clergy Project. The Project is working toward being able to accept donations directly so, “stay tuned”!!

  • Alconnolly

    I am sorry but I do not see this as a particularly worthy cause. Most people who openly share that they are atheist have been struggling with that realization for a long time. Although they may have been conflicted about what their true beliefs were. That certainly knew they did not have the kind of confidence in their faith that would allow an ethical person to continue to spend energy promoting those beliefs and accepting money from those who think they are giving to a true believer. Which means as far as I am concerned except for those who have a sudden deco version experience which is very rare, these individuals were living their lives as scammers for some time. These are people who supposedly went into the ministry sincerely, with the ideal of being willing to lay down your life for a belief like the martyrs of old, and yet they were to chicken shit or greedy to resign from ministry when they knew they could no longer preach with confidence. I am saying their resignation from ministry should have come sometime before they were ready to come out as atheists, at the time they knew that whatever they believed they, did not have enough confidence in the Christian faith to preach it and receive money from people because they believed that they were giving to a champion of their faith.

    • Thegoodman

       Do you spend your free time pissing on the Occupy protesters from your high rise?

      • Alconnolly

        I love the cause of the occupy protesters and envy their wide eyed optimism regarding changing the world, although I myself am to jaded to believe it will have much effect.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ellenbeth EllenBeth Wachs

      This is one of the MOST worthy cause you can find. Try living your entire life as a pastor and then try finding emplyment in a town that will shun you. Teresa is hardly a “scammer”  Perhaps you should speak with some of these people before you jump to conclusions such as this.  I happen to know Teresa personally and know her long personal struggle. I find her to be an incredible inspiration and would put her up as a role model for any young person.

      • Alconnolly

        See my reply, I tried being raised in a cult and leaving the entire world I knew and every person and family member I knew and loved because I came to understand it was a lie. I am an atheist and have dealt with far more sacrifice fornthatndecision than most can imagine.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ellenbeth EllenBeth Wachs

           I saw your reply and you come across as a know-it-all, patronizing, jerk that thinks your situation is the worst in the world. Get over yourself.

          • Alconnolly

            I did not volunteer the info. I made a legit statement, and then people assumed I was christian and did not understand what these people go through. I gave personal info to show the patronizing assumptions others made were completely unreflective of reality. I do not know Teresa she may be wonderful. The NPR story made it seem like before being honest with the congregation who had been giving their money to support her she went to an atheist convention to give a speech and come out to them first. I don’t know if that is what happened, if it is then I think she will one day see that as an unethical. My initial comment dealt with this not being a compelling cause. NPR made it sound like she has a husband who is employed as a police officer. Losing some income because one member of a family loses a job is not easy, and is something many people are going through, but it did not seem like she was faced with the choice of continuing to preach under false presences or starve. Anyway I have know idea if you value looking at things logically, but if you do you may consider that my analysis is legitamite, and you may want to consider not accusing and attacking, me. I attacked no one in my comments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1279154544 Jen Nimmo

    Alconnolly — wow, judgmental much?!?  You obviously have not payed attention to the actual stories of these people.  I would be willing to bet that if changing your job included the loss of your family, your friends, your support systems, and most of your community, it would take you a while to figure out how to do it.
    Put yourself in their shoes for a minute and realize this is not some type of scam.  These people have real lives and real feelings and struggled immensely with the loss of their faith, and now they have to figure out how to deal with the possibility of losing everything else in their lives too.
    But… if you are a christian, then I guess it’s your job to judge people, since that is about all I see them doing these days.

    • Alconnolly

      Here is the deal. I know everything about those pressures, I am an atheist that was raised in a “Christian” doomsday cult so look in the mirror before tossing around the word judgmental. I was making a point that at whatever point in an individual’s faith journey, they come to the realization that the confidence in what they are preaching is low enough for what they are doing to be legitimately called lying, and they continue to stand up there doing that for money (if not for money they can simply announce they are resigning for personal
      Reasons, or say they no longer have the confidence in their faith that their conscience requires they step down until such a time they fell they have it sorted out). Remember these are people who purport to believe that the “truth” is worth dying for. It may in fact be courageous to come out and suffer the consequences. But it is definitely not courageous to keep taking money from people under false presences, as many insincere preachers do every day that most here would not hesitate to condemn. Resign when you know you are living a lie. Come out when you feel confident you figured out what you believe, anything else will leave people feeling you lied to them, and those that feel that way are actually right on this issue.

  • Thegoodman

    Why were these poor former clergy members cut off from their “family”, “friends”, and employer? I was under the impression that Jesus’s Love was unconditional.*

    *Many conditions may apply. 

    • ludwig44

       I can’t believe how long I fell for the free gift story, when it is so far from free. If there were such a thing as an eternal prize, I would rather follow some rules to obtain it (well, as long as a few mess ups could be worked off or forgiven) than  be judged for whether  I can hold a certain thought in my mind!  That is more horrible than any other horror imaginable, especially when the punishment  proposed for this finite thought crime is infinite and not even serving rehabilitative purpose.
      “Jesus love” is the most conditional “love” ever imagined.


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