I gave a written interview to Grundy’s atheist site, Deity Shmeity. This is one of his questions and my answer. You can read all of the interview on his site.
You’ve mentioned on your site that the combination of the your reputation and small town living has caused some discomfort in past church appearances. Overall, how are you treated by Christians as an “out” atheist and ex-pastor?
Again, it’s interesting that you call me an “out” atheist. Some would say I’m an atheist. Some would say I’m a Christian. I would identify myself as a Christian in the broad sense. But I would also identify myself as a non-deist or non-theist. I guess I resist labels of any kind because I don’t comfortably fit into any one category. I am, like many people, very complex in what I think is true. I think truth is very complex and mysterious and defies pigeon-holing. We can claim allegiance to this school or that party or denomination or religion today. But what will we be tomorrow?
Living in a small city with a somewhat tarnished reputation as a pastor and a Christian has made things difficult in some ways because people want to know exactly where you stand. I get asked, “Do you still believe in God?”, which I find impossible to answer. Or “Why did you become an atheist?” That question is just as perplexing. “God” and “atheist” are so weighted down with tons of baggage that if I said yes or no, all that baggage comes pouring in and informs people of what they believe about you no matter how differently you might believe.
As an ex-pastor, I think for many it is a symbol of failure. It means I gave up. It means I rejected the church and God. I feel no compulsion to correct people about that because they’ll believe what they want. I feel no shame at all and have given up worrying about what people think. I’m searching hard for what’s true, and life is too short to keep worrying about making other people comfortable and secure in their beliefs.
(Read the rest here.)