Ex-Pastors Taking on New Roles in the Atheist World

Two former pastors who have made names for themselves in the atheist world are moving on to new opportunities.

Teresa MacBain has stepped down as American Atheists’ Director of Public Relations and she will be taking on a new role as Executive Director of the Humanists of Florida Association:

[MacBain said:] “The Humanists of Florida continues to effect real change in our world through its commitment to reason and compassion in action. Through projects such as ‘Humanists Helping the Hungry’, the ‘Adopt a Pastor Initiative’, and annual student scholarships, the HFA sets the example for freethought organizations nationwide. I’m thrilled to serve alongside the HFA board, its members and affiliates as we work together to achieve these noble goals.”

Also, our friend Jerry DeWitt is resigning (PDF) as Executive Director of Recovering from Religion in order to finish and promote his forthcoming book. In case you missed it, Jerry was the subject of a New York Times profile this past August.

Jerry’s resignation letter states, in part, “Writing and promoting a book will eat up so much of my time that I could not possibly do justice to this important position. I completely support the work that RR is doing and hope to continue to be as involved as I can be with RR for many years to come. I will continue to serve as a board member and full supporter of RR’s great mission. It has been a rare honor to be involved in an organization that is clearly helping thousands of people. In my time as Executive Director, I have done more and better pastoral work than I ever did while still a pastor. It has been a delight to connect with so many wonderful people who are discovering the joy of faith free living.”

Sarah Morehead, a great leader in her own right, will take over his old position.

I’m thrilled that Jerry will get to focus on this book. Like Dan Barker‘s Godless, I’m sure it’ll be a huge help for Christian leaders who are looking for a way out of the pulpit.

To quote Jerry, “Can I get a Dar-WIN?”

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.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Having former clergy involved as outspoken atheists is AWESOME for the movement.

    Aside from energizing those of us who gave up religion years ago, I certainly believe that for folks in the pews when they hear of clergy who are now blatantly rejecting religious belief systems it *MUST* make those in the pews stop, think and question, which is a PERFECT place for them to start.

    THANKS to Teresa and Jerry for their accomplishments so far. I look forward to their continued success in their new roles (and I also look forward to other clergy being welcomed in).

    • Thin-ice

      Except that the pew-sitters will respond: “Well, he/she never was a real Christian!”.

      After being a missionary, Bible College grad with theology degree, youth group leader, and deacon, that’s the response I always get when telling Christians that I no longer believe. Billy Graham himself could de-convert and that’s how most Christians would respond. But it still might register with a few of them . . .

  • Just Wondering

    What do ex pastors have in common?
    They are QUITTERS. I am seeing a pattern of behavior there.

    • goodwithoutgod

      Quitters? It seems they’ve been moving on up! lol

      • Uncle Bobolink

        You may have a point! Leaving Asshats Silvermans organization could be seen as a step up.

        • coyotenose

          Is Jesus proud of your behavior right now? You should ask him if you should be lying about and judging people.

        • Thin-ice

          Uncle, you seem to have a lot of hate inside you. Why don’t you ask Jesus to take that away, eh?

    • Ibis3

      You do realise that when you quit hurting others and yourself, that’s a good thing, right? If not, keep beating your head against the wall.

      • Uncle Bobolink

        McBain and DeWitt lied to their congrations, preaching when they no longer beleived. Hardly superior ethical behavor.
        And now they have quit their atheist employers for “other opportunites”.
        Yeah, there is a pattern of quitting.

        • oceans0ul

          And so what? Why are you so preoccupied with what these people do? Does it make you mad that even clergy are turning their backs on religion? It must suck huh?

        • http://www.facebook.com/austin.mann.100 Austin Mann

          Let’s see what you would have done in their position! Perhaps integrity can take a back seat to carefully deciding whether or not you can handle life without your friends, family and career. I suggest, for someone like yourself, that you focus intently on a little thing called empathy..

        • coyotenose

          Why do good Christians like you hate people for becoming true to themselves? Does Jesus love it when you misrepresent them and trivialize their crises so you can judge them?

          Why do you hate Jesus’s teachings so much?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      It’s rather pathetic that in your attempt to say something nasty about someone, all you can find is something so ludicrously silly. I mean, other people at least get upset about them continuing as clergy for a time while having realized that God doesn’t exist. But you seem less concerned with preaching but not believing, and just want them to keep being a clergy even if they’re faking it. Doesn’t say much about what you value in a spiritual leader.

      • Uncle Bobolink

        So you admit they were faking it. How ethical. I though atheists were more moral than everyone else?

        • meekinheritance

          What makes you think that? Atheists don’t believe in deities. That doesn’t make us more moral. Maybe less gullible, but not more moral or ethical.

        • coyotenose

          Why do good Christians like you have to lie in order to have any argument at all? Didn’t Jesus love you enough to make you stop lying?

          Oh, changing your username to make it look like you have support? That’s lying too.

          Why did God make you a lying sack?

    • MichaelBrice

      Quitters? You mean in a good way right? Like quitting heroin ’cause it’s self destructive?

    • Edmond

      My brother-in-law was a quitter, too. He gave up heroin. What a jerk, right?

      • Uncle Bobolink

        My brother in law gave up on his wife and kids. And working.
        Yeah, he was a jerk.

    • allein

      Because no one else ever leaves a job for any good reason…

      • baal

        Like graduating and finding a better job somewhere else or maybe moving to be closer to an ailing family member and getting a new job closer to them or…

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Perhaps they just grew up. When you were a child, you spake as a child. You understood as a child. You thought as a child.

      Isn’t it time you too, put away childish things? It’s time for you to QUIT being a child.

  • Wish it were different.

    Don’t know how Theresa can be an example of “reason and compassion in action” when the manner in which she quit her church was so unreasonable and uncompassionate which would be no problem, if after getting some distance from an emotional time she said she was sorry for hurting all those people by going to a convention of strangers and telling them she was an atheist instead of the people she had been preaching to each week.

    • Octoberfurst

      Oh shut up! We’ve been through that crap before.

      • Hieronymous

        Yeah, but its true.

        • Octoberfurst

          No it isn’t! We’ve been through this bullshit argument before and we don’t need to talk about it again. So you can sit and obsess about the fact that MacBane didn’t quit her preaching job IMMEDIATELY after developing doubts about her faith but for the rest of us this is a dead issue.

      • alconnolly

        Bottom line is you cannot shoot down someones comment with a simple accusation that it is “crap”, and still retain any status as a skeptical person. If you do not mind presenting yourself as an individual who has not mastered basic levels of reason and thinks thinks presenting a legitimate point is properly done by simply calling others points “crap”, more power to you. But if you think that debates should be handled by reason, which seems to be your position in other comments made, then you should apologize for this woefully inadequate response. Further down you say that the comment regarded a problem with Theresa not immediately quitting her job. What I read is a comment saying that the manner of quitting her job (going to tell a bunch of strangers that she was doing so instead of the people she was just preaching to the week before). As well as the fact that after some time in which she could reflect on those actions and get some distance from the turmoil that I am sure she was going through at the time, she still has not seen fit to offer a short mea culpa to those she hurt, does not speak of a humanist leader who is prepared to lay claim to both her successes and failures. So respond to the actual point not some straw man about her not immediately quitting at the first moment of doubt.

        • Octoberfurst

          Perhaps you are not aware that there was this BIG discussion on this site previously about McBain quitting her job and the manner in which it was done. The subject was almost beaten to death. Then all of a sudden we have someone who wants to go over that subject AGAIN. Well I am sorry if I don’t want to engage in another long, drawn-out dialogue about it. So I just said it was “crap’ and that we didn’t need to go over it again. Perhaps you like going over a topic over and over and over again but I do not.

          • alconnolly

            I saw the prior discussion and the issue of doubts may have been done to death, but the manner of her “coming out” and the fact she has not in the intervening time acknowledged that it was hurtful does not seem to have been done to death or even addressed at all. It was either ignored or not even processed in your response.

            • Octoberfurst

              I really, really don’t care about this topic. Seriously, go find someone who does.

  • Aneres

    Yay my two favorites of 2012! =D Congrats on graduating even further!

  • Greg G.

    They each had problems leaving their jobs as pastors because they had families and no job prospects. Now they have more opportunities than they can handle. At least two more pastors can now earn an honest living.

  • Hieronymous

    You will never know the real reason McBain left American Atheists.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      We’ll never know the real reason you’re so upset that you feel the need to troll atheist blogs about it. Probably you’re jealous of people who have the strength to learn and grow and change things for the better. You’re like the adult still living at home, afraid to leave your abusive sky daddy.

      all the best with that

    • coyotenose

      You will never know enough of Jesus’s love to let you stop making up things.


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