For a few months now I have been a member of an online group called The Clergy Project.
This group was founded by leaders of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Its originators included Daniel Dennett, Linda LaScola, Richard Dawkins, Robin Cornwell and Dan Barker.
The Clergy Project is a private forum with about 100 members who are either active or former clergy and who have lost any belief in the supernatural. Many of them come from pretty fundamentalist backgrounds, including some who are still preaching in those kinds of churches.
Most of the active clergy members need to keep their identities very private. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any who aren’t trying to get out of the clergy. That’s a tall order, though, for people whose training and skill sets are difficult to transfer. Not every pastor or priest has the privilege of signing on with a humanistic version of their religion as I was fortunate enough to do. With the exception of joining the Unitarian Universalists, who do count theists among their members, I’m not sure that’s an option for my ex-Christian friends.
I’m writing about it now because The Clergy Project has just gone quasi-public. We’re not opening up the private forum, but there are now a website and Facebook page with public faces that explain what’s happening behind the scenes while protecting the privacy of our group.
ClergyProject.org has a wealth of resources that we all hope will garner a great deal of attention to our cause. Our Facebook page is also up and running. I think we would all like to see this become a national movement to guide non-theistic clergy out of traditional religion and into something more productive. Perhaps a few will even be drawn to humanistic chaplaincy, a career path that is in its infancy. (Okay, it’s in its gestation.)
Take a moment to visit the site and read the testimonials and press coverage. You can also leave comments on the Facebook page. I’m encouraged to see that, as of this writing, all of the comments are quite positive.