Shift Happens: Teresa MacBain Explains How She Left Her Faith

Teresa MacBain is one of the increasingly popular group of pastors-turned-atheists. She was the first female graduate of the Clergy Project and now works as Director of Public Relations for American Atheists.

Back in June, Teresa spoke about her religious “shift” at the FreeOK Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma:

Like many former pastors, she’s *really* hard not to pay attention to when she speaks — she has the cadence and the oratorical skills. At least she’s an atheist now so we don’t have to feel dirty about listening to it :)

(via The Thinking Atheist)

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.

  • William Poire

    For someone who just came out in March, she’s making quite a name for herself. :)

    Unfortunately, her father passed away a couple of days ago. Maybe you can get a collection started.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I’m only 3 1/2 minutes into this and she already has drawn me in but a lot of good preachers are very good speakers. She has that voice that says, trust me, listen to me. I know what is best.

  • MegaZeusThor

    Thanks to Teresa for speaking and Seth to (The Thinking Atheist) for their time and energy. These things live on the web for a long time, and they all help.

  • Agnostic

    Doubting god=sin to religious
    Doubting atheism=sin to atheists
    Same self-righteousness argument

    • 3lemenope


      • Stev84

        He is a known troll that pretends to be agnostic, but acts like a fundie

        • 3lemenope

          Oh I know, I just don’t like leaving stuff unchallenged, at least in a pro forma sense. Besides, even trolls occasionally have a valuable perspective, if you sift through the juvenile ways in which they are generally presented. Not in this particular case, I don’t think, but at least I thought I’d give him/her an opportunity to expound, thus either explaining the point or digging a deeper, sillier hole for him/herself.

        • Agnostic

          Doubt if you like. There is a gap between your thinking and reality. I am just someone who fears that this type of propagation will led to building up of hatred which can lead to violence in the society I am part of.

          • Coyotenose

             Your sick, childish attempt to assign violent tendencies to the secular movement is noted.

            • Agnostic

              All that anger feeding on itself will surely grow to something beyond control.

              • nakedanthropologist

                Its good that you’re starting to be self-reflective, “Agnostic”.  Now just conquer the eighth grade – we’re all cheering for you!

          • Silo Mowbray

            Do you know what the fuck a false equivalency is? Because you just committed it.

          • RobMcCune

            “Doubt if you like”

            Actually we can’t really say one way or the other.

          • nakedanthropologist

            Because watching youtube videos is violent.  Riiiiight.

            • Hmmm

              And our society was so free of violence before this propagation began.

    • Stev84

       Sin is a religious concept that is meaningless to atheists

      • Agnostic

        I didn’t think my English was that bad so I looked up the Oxford dictionary. An informal use of sin: having a particular undesirable quality to a high degree eg as ugly as sin, miserable as sin.

        • Sam Mendez

          Sure. I’m sure that’s how you meant to use the word.

    • Cutencrunchy

       doubting, skepticism and reasoning should be valued – it’s not self righteous – it’s intelligent design for a productive future.

      • Agnostic

        I question intelligent design as much as I question evolution. The former because I cannot envisage why we should be designed, the latter because of the huge gaps which fossils have not been able to fill.

        • Silo Mowbray

          We haven’t found a gravity particle yet. Try stepping off a very tall ladder and see if your doubts prevent you from suffering from “deceleration trauma.”

        • Thin-ice

          You just revealed your ignorance of evolution, and your true identity. There are no “huge gaps” left, as anyone who has a passing knowledge of this field of science would know. Sounds like you took science lessons from Comfort and Cameron. 

          • usclat

            Thin-ice 1 – Dumb-ass Agnostic 0


          • Agnostic

            And I guess you do. The evolutionists certainly have not shown any in between fossils of different classes of animals. People like you will complain of corporate corruption. You think such things cannot happen to scientific establishments?

            The theory has been around 140years.surely there must be some animal fossils they can find of animals between a giraffe and a horse or something which looks like the predesors of the rhino and hippo, not even considering the smaller animals. I may be ignorant but why has not the science community made their finds public?

            • julie

              The reason there are no “in betweens” is that they all look like normal animals, not mutant, morphing animals. It’s like calling your grandparents “in betweens” or intermediate stages of you and your cousins.

              There would be no giraffe/horse out there, just an animal long ago that they are both related to, though giraffes are much closer to deer. The earliest giraffe was the climacoceras, and you can see how both a giraffe and an okapi could have evolved from it.

            • Glasofruix

              If you’re looking for a crocoduck, you’re in the wrong place, try some Cameron’s videos. Also, you are an idiot.

            • Hmmm

              In 140 years, not a single fossil has been found that does not fit the theory of evolution, despite people all over the world actively seeking one. There is more evidence for volition than there is for gravity.

              • Hmmm

                Evolution, not volition. Damn you, autocorrect.

            • Dale Dobson

              You really need to do some research before claiming that this information is not available or listening to people who claim it is not known or somehow kept secret.  My own ignorance on both topics was cleared up with a quick search for “ungulates common ancestor” and “rhino hippo predecessors”:

              There’s nothing BETWEEN giraffes and horses — one did not evolve into the other, as they are in separate branches of the ungulate family (even-toed and odd-toed) which split off into distinct families before the modern giraffe or horse evolved.   They do have characteristics in common because of shared ancestry, but we know enough about the tree of life to know that these two species are not ancestrally related to each other.  So we would not expect to find a giraffe/horse halfway creature, but we would expect to find a common ungulate ancestor — the earliest known is Condylarthra from the Paleocene Epoch.  Its generation’s descendants include both the giraffe and the horse.  Consider both the horse and giraffe to be great-great-great-great-…-great-grandchildren of the same parent species, which may not have been Condylarthra precisely but was an animal very much like it existing at around the same time.

              Rhinos and Hippos are easier to recognize because they are closely related and very similar — Teleoceras had characteristics of both rhinos and hippos, with a body resembling the modern hippo and a small horn; its closest known predecessor, Metamynodon, was even closer to the hippo in lifestyle, so the hippo and rhino appear to be “cousins”, with both descending from Metamynodon or similar creatures around the same timeframe (geologically speaking.)

    • MegaZeusThor

      We encourage people to think about religious claims. Read the bible. Think about what atheism is and what it mean.

      What we are against is “auto-pilot” or people who accept fantastic tales without question. If you come up with “I don’t know” you are likely an atheist or an agnostic. If you come up with “a specific Deity did it”, please show us how you came to that conclusion; we’d love to know why.

      • Tanya2

        I know what atheism meant to my relatives.

        Imprisonment, torture, death.

        • Nazani14

          Sorry to hear that.  Assuming you’re from the former USSR, what kind of life do you think people are going to have under the Putin/Church regime?  The persecutions have been going on for some time already.

        • MegaZeusThor

          You can argue that a religion is true.

          You can argue that a religion is useful.

          You can argue that atheism is somehow corrosive.

          - Only the first one gets at the truth claim about gods.

          (Paraphrasing Sam Harris.) 


    • Coyotenose

      Using rationality to determine one’s belief structure =sin to cretins like yourself.

      Equating criticism of bad ideas to the bad ideas themselves = twisted and childish thinking.

      Pretending to be above the fray = see above.

      • Agnostic

        I am certainly not above the fray. I just know how to look at the mirror and know my own weakness unlike some. Since I do not have a 160 IQ, I will quote Einstein who has: Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe.

        How can I be above the fray when I see developments which is likely to cause upheaval and chaos.

    • LesterBallard

      No one is sent to hell to be punished for all eternity for “doubting atheism”, you asswipe.

      • Agnostic

        Have you heard of hell on earth? Anger that burns you up is like hell. Think of it as everlasting anger or suspended state of anger. That is why all this mocking and anger is self distructive. I have no concern that anyone burns in hatred which feeds on itself. My fear is that it seems to be spreading like wildfire which is going to disrupt the society I live in. The leaders of such movements have no problem escaping elsewhere. They have money, connection and some degree of power. I have no means of escape.

        • LesterBallard

          I don’t have a anger problem. I have a moron/idiot/asshole problem.

        • Kevin_Of_Bangor

          I fart in your general direction.

          • Sam Mendez

            Love Monty Python!

          • Agnostic

            I can smell you in your general choise of words.

            • nakedanthropologist

              Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

        • Margaret Whitestone

           I’ve heard of hell on earth.  Fundagelical extremists are working very hard to create it by demanding they be allowed to take away my rights as a woman, a lesbian and a non-believer.  You seem to be suggesting I shouldn’t be angry about that.

          • Agnostic

            Since the vast majority are not like that, why get angry. Just do what you want without disrupt the way others want to live their lives. Doesn’t the majority count? Are we not entitled to our peace? I have gone through the college days when I was pro gay. Now that I have children of my own, do you think I want them exposed to that. I still want to be a grandparent and hope my children do not experiment taking with such relationships as if it a norm. If you want to call it a selfish gene than I am not accountable for it justifying rapists.

            Why do you need to be angry? Because you are not entitled to get married? We all know that getting married is just a contract mainly for the division of property. Why can’t one partner provide for the other through will? But nowadays with so many divorces, it is always the less able partner who looses out even when one is married.

            • Margaret Whitestone

              Oh good grief, you’re not worth the effort. Stay ignorant and bigoted. It’s not like you actually want facts anyway.

              • Tanya2

                Keep calling people names and throwing the ad hominems.

                It will ensure that atheism never becomes viable politically in a democratic society…of course, this would not prevent them from taking over by force as they did in other countries…but that takes longer.

                And doesn’t last.

                Your movement is already derailing.

                • Glasofruix

                  Like we are the ones who started the name calling…

                  Your movement is already derailing.

                  Actually, if you do some fact checking instead of listening to what your pastor or whatever tellls you to think you’ll see that it’s quite the countrary that is happening.

                  Also, the US is the only “developped” country that is still keeping that high degree of middle ages thinking.

            • Hmmm

              A will cannot ensure that one’s life partner be allowed to provide comfort on one’s deathbed. Hospitals listen to family, not fully committed, monogamous lifelong partners with no marriage contract (who, incidentally, accepted who they were rather than “experimenting” and deciding to adopt a lifestyle that leads people like you to ostracize and denigrate them).

            • Anna

              I have gone through the college days when I was pro gay. Now that I have children of my own, do you think I want them exposed to that. I still want to be a grandparent and hope my children do not experiment taking with such relationships as if it a norm.

              Okay, three things. First of all, people don’t magically become gay. If your children are having same-sex relationships, it’s not because the media told them to. It’s not because the government gave gay people civil rights. It’s because your children are not heterosexual. 

              Secondly,  there is no guarantee that straight children will give you grandchildren. There are many straight couples who choose to remain childfree, and there are also those who are not able to have children. Your sons and daughters(straight or gay) are under no obligation to provide you with grandchildren. It would be wrong to force or pressure them into having children just to fulfill your own selfish desires.

              And third, hey, good news! You can still be a grandparent if your children are gay or lesbian. Ever hear of adoption, insemination, or surrogacy? My parents are lesbian,  and my brother and I were born through donor insemination. My grandparents got to enjoy having grandchildren just the same as if my parents had been straight.

              • Glasofruix

                Oh wow, i usually glance a bit at his comments because he goes retard pretty early, but i missed this one. He calls himself agnostic but that’s some really harcore fundie stupidity right there.

          • Tanya2

            Atheists are the ones who have created hell on earth.

            Gulags, “re-education” camps, intimidation…it always rules when they get actual political control of a government.

            • Margaret Whitestone

               If you’re too stupid to tell the difference between atheism and a political ideology you need to  stop trolling blogs and go back to school. 

              • Tanya2

                And if you think lying about it and pretending that atheists did not kill believers because they hated religion and wanted to eliminate it then you are just one corrupt enabler.

                (Even Christopher Hitchens admitted that Lenin and Trotsky wanted to wipe out religion because of their committed atheism…in GING)

                And that another reason why you kind should never have political power.

                • Glasofruix

                  And we can picture exactly what would happen if fundies get their dirty Mitts on power, witch hunting, persecution of minorities and a total lack of personnal freedom. Get some education before you spout your nonsense.

            • Glasofruix

              Oh great, the hitler/stalin non argument again, they must’ve done that because they both had a mustache, coincidence? I think not!… And btw, what can you tell me about spanish inquisition and crusades, huh?

            • smg77

              Where are these atheist re-education camps? I’d like to visit one.

    • Margaret Whitestone

       Atheists don’t believe in “sin”. 

      • Tanya2

        Sure they do.

        • Glasofruix

          Nope, we don’t.

          • 2012skeeter

            Do so do so!!!!! Nanny nanny poo-poo!!!!!! 

        • nakedanthropologist

          Um, no we don’t.  And if the word “sin” is used (and not as a colloquialism) then the person or people using it is/are probably not atheist(s).

    • Baby_Raptor

      Fail from the word go. Atheists don’t have a concept of sin. That’s a religion thing only.

      Better luck next time.

      • Tanya2

        BS.  Atheists not only have sins, they have unforgiveable sins.

        Ask Thunderfoot…snicker…

        • Glasofruix

          Please enlighten us, what sins do we have exactly?

    • Ryan

      “Doubting god=sin to religious
      Doubting atheism=sin to atheists
      Same self-righteousness argument”
      Reminds me of this: 

  • AxeGrrl

    “shift happens”    hehe, love it :)

    She’s a heathen AND has a sense of humour, I like her already!

  • Josh

    Interesting cause I was a Wesleyn and it started me on the path of Atheism as well.

  • Tanya2

    I can understand a change, but somehow I can’t respect someone who now badmouths their former friends.

    They can just as easily turn on you next.

  • Dglas

    Employment opportunities within atheism are now going to “former” pastors, who deconverted only moths ago. I see this as a profound betrayal of all those life-long atheists who have being denied opportunities because of their atheism.Finally, there may be jobs for atheists and who are they being given to? And for what? The publicity ploy of saying “we got one of yours?” This looks like another form of religious privilege to me. 

    Meanwhile the American Atheists are being really profoundly stupid lately in their publicity stunts. A flying banner equating atheism with patriotism? A billboard campaign meant to create confusion over which party is best for atheists, democrat or republican, at a time when the most dangerous elements rule the republican party? Seriously?

    Meanwhile, ideological demagogues within atheism are trying to impose irrelevant orthodoxy requirements on atheism, seeking to dominate every conversation and stifle free inquiry. “Freethought” is being redefined in terms of ideology.

    What should be a positive time during a time of rise of atheism is turning to garbage in a heartbeat. This is dark time, and I don’t know if there is anyone left to remind us that atheism is not just another ideology…like the theists claim.

    • moother

      Atheists are not into proselytising… former pastors are…

      So, are you against taking the best (wo)man for the job?

  • Korky

    Did she come across as somewhat condescending to someone else?

  • Ilisoni Kinivuwai

    God loves you and I pray that one day you will all be able to see his glory! Jesus loves you all!