After Three Decades as an Ordained Minister, Syndicated Columnist Bob Ripley Comes Out as an Atheist

Rev. Bob Ripley was a minister for more than three decades, including 15 years spent as Senior Minister at Metropolitan United Church, a major Canadian congregation. He also wrote a syndicated column discussing religion for the past 25 years.

His most recent column, however, may raise a lot of eyebrows, because Ripley talks about how he no longer believes in God.

It’s a prelude to his forthcoming book Life Beyond Belief (not yet available online for some reason) explaining his deconversion:

… I need to tell you that I’ve changed my mind. Where once I proclaimed the doctrines of Christianity with passion and sincerity, I am now convinced that religion, all religion, is man-made. As with the long line of deities dotting the history of our species, the idea of one God, Yahweh, made manifest in Jesus of Nazareth, is our means to an end — to explain how we got here, for instance, or to avoid looking fate in the face or to gain an edge over our enemies.

If all this makes you sad, I’m sorry. Please remember that I have not changed. The heart that was once surrendered to Jesus Christ, that gave itself to others and infused a vocation with kindness, still beats in me. If you have ever met me, know that the person I was then, I am now, still striving for integrity and capable of profound love.

I’m not lost. I began this journey by asking questions. It continued by not being content with trite cliches or lazy affirmations. Curiosity is an amazing accelerant. I am a passionate advocate for unremitting intellectual honesty, for reason and reality, for love and learning. My advocacy simply no longer assumes a deity.

I still believe. I believe no person or group of persons is inferior to any other. I believe that what matters is not so much what we believe, but how we conduct ourselves for these few short, fragile years of being alive. I believe that being aware of the beauty and wonder of the universe, including this pale blue dot in the remote corner of one of billions of galaxies, is an indescribably wonderful privilege.

If the book is anything like that column, I can’t wait to read it.

Ripley, incidentally, has been answering questions anonymously for a while now at another Patheos blog, Rational Doubt. He outed himself there today as well.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

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