Introductions and Hello

the_best_hello_my_name_is_sticker_ever_by_baconoffury-d4svmp6Anytime I get a big uptick in readers, I like to introduce myself.  Hello new readers!  I know many of you have come over from Twitter where my friend @NancyDrewPI made a beautiful meme out of one of my quotes.

wpid-wp-1436835127146.jpegThat quote is kind of a grammatical nightmare, but her use of font and imagery makes sense out of it!

Some of you have come over from ExChristian.net where someone was kind enough to share my story.  And plenty of you are coming in from the various Clergy Project channels such as the public website and the Facebook page.  Also, hello to the occasional and rare Redditor, Imgurian, Tumblrite.

Let me give you a few facts about me and this blog:

  • I belong to the Clergy Project.
  • I am an atheist.
  • I am still a pastor.
  • I am regularly applying for work.
  • Yes, I tailor my resumes according to the job I’m applying for.
  • I do swear a lot…sometimes.
  • I’m trying to swear less.  But deconverting sometimes makes me really really angry.
  • I generally don’t write posts or respond to many comments on Fridays and Saturdays.  Those are my days off.  I spend it with my wife and kids.
  • While I’ve tried to operate an anonymous Facebook account, Facebook has locked me out.  I’ve ditched the concept now.
  • I WANT TO HEAR YOUR STORIES ABOUT LOSING YOUR FAITH.
  • I want you to correct my grammar, or at least my spelling.  I am a terrible editor.
  • Yes, you can follow me on Twitter @pastornofaith
  • I am occasionally on Tumblr http://pastornofaith.tumblr.com/
  • I am a Nerdfighter. DFTBA!
    • Obviously, I’m also a Beard Lover.
      • No, I don’t punch eagles.
  • I (probably) will be part of a documentary about clergy who lose their faith.  Hopefully we’ll all get to see it sometime next year.

Click on the menu bar at the top of the page to read my coming out stories and my FAQ.

If this blog has been helpful to you or you think this could help someone else, please share it and share it often.  I have officially lost track of how many people email, pm, dm, and comment on this blog who said I made them feel less alone.  It is my goal to have every pastor in America see this story.  That’s probably a bit too ambitious, but I just know there are hundreds of pastors who are just like me.  They need to know that this isn’t their fault.  They need to know that everything will be ok.  But not just pastors.  Any Christian who has questioned their faith needs to not only read this story, but also be introduced to you the readers.  You are a community of support.  Ex-Christians unite!

Thank you for your support.  I seriously love all my readers.  You guys are the best.

John Jameson aka JJ aka PNF

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13 thoughts on “Introductions and Hello

  1. My story, in a nutshell, because your asked. 🙂

    Indoctrinated into the church as a toddler by my grandmother. Believed into my 40s. Young earther throughout that time, because the concept of original sin and evolution seem totally incompatible to me. I didn’t investigate the evidence for evolution too thoroughly; or at all, essentially remaining a Christian through my own apathy.

    Until I read Douglas Adams posthumous “Salmon of Doubt” containing lots of his articles, interviews and what existed of the book in the title. I was flabbergasted to discover he was an atheist, and he mentioned the works of Richard Dawkins being important to his understanding of the world. I read the books, over and over, not believing a word of them, replaying the same excuses other Christians had taught me over the years to poke holes in the theory of evolution. But eventually, it became apparent to me that evolution was true, all life on earth was descended from a common ancestor and the universe was an ancient place. The bible cannot be literally true and therefore (the Christian) God cannot be real.

    I respect Young Earth Creationists, because they are sticking firm to a logical story. Without Adam and Eve there can be no original sin to ruin God’s creation. If evolution is true then death is as old as life and all the weeds and pain in childbirth and all the other consequences of our sin has existed long before we have. They are ignoring the evidence (or like me, just not looking too hard) but their belief makes sense. I don’t get Christians who believe in evolution at all. The logical gymnastics required make no sense. Not to mention it makes their God small. He could have created the universe fully formed, but He chose to let nature do the work. Or “Who are we to question His methods?” We are critical thinking beings, supposedly made in His image. We ask questions and try to work out why things are the way they are. We are searchers of answers.

    Cheers
    Shane

    Like

    • I can understand how christians could accept evolution.

      But for me, evolution was the final nail in the coffin.
      Evolution is heartless and cruel. Nearly every animal that ever lived died or wlll die of slow starvation or by being eaten alive. A god could make death painless. Evolution cannot.

      I found that I could believe in evolution or a benevolent god, but not both. I went with reality.

      Liked by 2 people

    • It’s interesting, because my experience with religion and evolution was almost completely the reverse. I was raised Catholic, so I was never asked to believe that evolution ran contrary to faith; it was simply the tool that God used to create the diversity of life. After all, he used a human woman to give him (as Jesus) entry to the world as a baby, rather than appearing fully-formed as an adult, so God using evolution didn’t seem so farfetched. As a child, I was really into dinosaurs and animals and science, and these interests were never discouraged by my family.

      When I was in high school, I overheard a classmate in study hall saying that she didn’t believe in evolution, because of “Adam and Eve,” and would write down the correct answers on our biology tests but she didn’t accept them as true. This was the first time I had ever encountered this viewpoint, and it honestly boggled my mind — I’d never heard of anyone using their religious beliefs to flat-out reject science before! My faith was already getting pretty wobbly by then, but being confronted firsthand with someone ignoring reality because of religion was definitely another nail in the coffin of my beliefs.

      Like

  2. I have been following your blog for a month or so. I can’t even remember how I happened across it. I have slowly been “researching” my growing disbelief, following Richard Dawkins and gradually becoming ever more thirsty for truth, and I saw your blog mentioned on such a site. I just don’t remember which one.

    It had never occurred to me that a pastor, priest (I was born and raised Catholic), rabbi or other such position of religious leadership had doubts or fully progressed into disbelief. (Atheist and atheism have always held such negative connotations that I find it difficult applying them to myself or anyone else.) I was immediately hooked and read everything you had posted. I often find myself impatient while waiting for your next blog post as your story has resonated with me like nothing else. While I started to post a comment many times, I was overwhelmed at everything I wanted to say, and often looked for a way (email, etc.) to contact you directly, feeling for some reason that you or no one else would be interested in hearing my personal story, experiences, etc. However, through your blog I realized that hearing others’ stories, knowing they are going through what we are and have the same confusion, anger, and disenchantment, is very healing. If it serves to help me make sense of what I am going through, then it will likely have the same effect on others.

    Even now, while my initial intent was to tell a big story of my process from faith to agnosticism to disbelief, it would just end up in one long rant and likely not mean anything to anyone. I think my excitement over having a “group” where I can “discuss” these things with like minded people has just overwhelmed me. (I know me reading your blog does not put me in a group with you and your followers, and it doesn’t count as anything remotely resembling a two-way discussion, but it is the closest thing I have.)

    I have definitely downplayed my gradual journey to disbelief. (Think: slow, lazy, gurgling creek that goes on for miles, gradually turning a bend where all of the sudden many other creeks come together to form one raging river that plummets over a cliff in a spectacular waterfall. That is the exact visual representation of my path. Those contributing creeks are people such as The Friendly Atheist, Richard Dawkins, other scholarly sources of information, etc. Your blog was the cliff, and I now feel like I am in a free fall.)

    Please do not apologize for your “bad” language. This process is raw and emotional. It makes you realistic, and helps us to feel what you feel. I feel like the loss of my faith, which I had never, ever, EVER questioned until a few years ago, is like a horrible divorce or death of my closest friend. I feel like I need a support group, counselor, therapist, etc. No such thing exists. I thought it would be easy to find like minded individuals among friends or coworkers to discuss this “process” with, but found that to not be the case. I feel lonely and disillusioned. And mad. Furious! I am a reasonably smart person, but have been made to feel crazy because of my lack of belief. None of it makes sense. I am a nurse, and many people feel there must be something wrong with me if my career hasn’t underscored the proof of the existence of God. Frankly, it has provided me proof of the complete lack of existence which, coupled with my personal battle with cancer several years ago, planted my initial doubts and misgivings.

    Interestingly enough, even when I was a child, out of all the stories in the bible, the one I had the most difficult time with was Noah and the flood. I don;t pretend to know the bible like you do, but the general gist of God saying he had made a mistake and would never do anything like that again just seemed to fly in the face of the omnipotent, infallible portrayal of God. Even as a child, this did not make sense. With almost every post, you point out more contradictory evidence. It has completely fascinated me, especially with your background and knowledge of the bible.

    The post that resonated with me most was the one about TBWSNBN (I think that’s it, but you know what I mean.) My husband has a passion for music and is very talented. He has been playing in a relatively successful local band for several years. The singer, who has been a friend from high school (where I went too, we all knew each other) prides himself on his faith, religion, etc. That man will not miss a Sunday service, and will preach to you with his superior insight and understanding of the bible. Yet that same man, the most incredible hypocrite I have ever known, will get so drunk during their shows that he can’t remember words to songs, and then drives home. Shit-faced drunk. Always. Without fail. He also will sleep with any and every woman that makes herself available to him at their shows. Or his work. Or that he crosses paths with in any capacity. Of course he is married. But you see, it doesn’t matter because God knows he is a sinner, and that man is weak, and that the devil is constantly tempting us and that sometimes we fall. All he has to do is ask for forgiveness. It matters not one bit that he continues to “sin” in the same way every chance he can get. When that man got a rather large tattoo of Jesus on his arm wearing a crown of thorns from which blood flowed, I lost it. When you wrote about TBWSNBN, I was infuriated by her self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Her, and my husband’s now ex-friend (took him a while to see through that garbage) are the representation of everything I hate about religion. I found myself screaming at your post, out loud, “You fucking bitch!” Several times. Among other things. Makes me so irrational that I find myself wishing for really bad things to happen to her. How dare she feel the right and obligation to infringe upon your need to provide for your family, to cause actual psychological stress and even harm, maybe even physical. It amazes me she doesn’t have any compassion for your wife and her medical needs at a minimum, or for the well-being of your children.

    Even though it was not my intent, I ranted anyway. Please know how much your story and blog has done for me. If this comment seems too long and inappropriate, or you feel I have hijacked your blog, I am sorry. Feel free to delete. However, know how much you are touching others’ lives through the window into your own life. I am so grateful for your story and insight. You feel like a friend, and your blog is the closest thing I have to interaction with anyone who knows and understands what I am going through. My thoughts are with you, your wife, and children while you work through this.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Quit apologizing, I loved your comment. Thanks for telling your story. Thanks for ranting. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for making me feel like what I write matters. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  3. I’ve been reading your blog for several weeks now (I don’t recall how I found you… bad memory!) and wanted to let you know that your journey really resonates with me, even though our situations are different. I thought I would add my voice of support and say “thanks” for putting all this out there, painful though it may be.

    I’m an agnostic atheist as well, having gone through the painful deconversion process about two years ago. Going through that was the second closest thing to a “mental hell” I’ve ever been through. So, in that regard, if you want to scream, cuss, swear, etc., go for it. This is raw, painful stuff. I’m still coming to terms with the pain and anger, although they no longer consume me.

    I had to go through the anger at being told that I was a broken, depraved individual when, in reality, I’m neither (just a human being!). I had to go through the anger at being “sold a bill of goods” that there was a God up in the sky who loved me and looked out for my well-being. I *still* can’t deal with the lyrics to once-loved Christian hymns because of the lies contained within. Needless to say, as a PK whose father is still an active minister (and believer), family life is sometimes difficult. There are occasionally heated discussions, but how could there not be? It’s like discovering that Santa Clause isn’t real (and your parents somehow still insist that he *is* real!). [Side note: why in the world do so many Christians insist on teaching their children Santa Clause? Isn’t that a huge risk to the God myth when the child discovers otherwise?]

    You asked for stories — I won’t post mine here — it would be too long. But I’ll share a link when it’s done! Comment sections aren’t so great for novels, are they!

    Anyway — this is getting longer than I anticipated, so I’ll quit… just know that you have my support. My heart has ached for you and your family as you’ve progressed through this journey. It’s funny… it’s ingrained in my brain to say “you are in my prayers” — I have to actively suppress saying that. Instead, although it does no /real/ good, you and your family are in my thoughts. I fervently hope that things will work out in your favor!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your blog! It has given me a window into the “soul” of a fellow non-believer and I just want you to know that we are out here… listening… and feeling. We are all rooting for you, PNF!

    You’d asked for deconversion stories from us. Mine is rather long but I’ll cut to the chase and give you my watershed moment. Back in March 2012, my 15 year-old daughter asked if I would drive her and a few friends into Washington the next day to see some kind of “rally.” She knew I was an open-minded science guy and that I had misgivings about religion but was not an open atheist. The event she wanted to attend was of course the Reason Rally! All day we stood on the chilly, misty Washington Mall, listening to speaker after speaker proclaiming the value of reason over faith, and the worth of humans without any accompanying religious baggage. By the end of the day I was a changed person. I’ve described the rain that day as a reverse-baptism in some sort of bizarro-world crusade!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was in full-time ministry and left for a private sector job about 4 years before “losing” my faith. I cannot imagine the added struggle of being in active ministry and going through such a painful, disorienting process. Interesting enough, it was in the occasional teaching and discussions with my boys, that the cognitive dissonance really became clear. I was angry and felt alone for months, my wife was definitely not supportive and wanted to separate. It’s now been two years and we are healthier than ever as individuals and as a family. My wife still believes and takes the boys to church, but other than that, we really do not have much tension related to our different beliefs.

    For all of you that are just starting this process, it was something that was never an option for me. It caught me off guard when I found myself in a position where I could no longer believe. Just know: It gets better!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I am not a part of the Clergy Project, but many of the stories have been helpful. I got into ministry very young and volunteered for about 7 years, spent only 1 year on staff. During that time I really had no significant doubts, but I held views that no longer aligned with evangelical positions. Much of my personal research was around evolutionary biology, which I found ways to adapt. It was not until I had kids that I really began to cringe when answering their questions about the world. Not believing was never an option…until it was the only option. I was in a Bible study with a pastor and close friend and one night at work I stopped to process how everything in life made more sense as I studied it. The only thing that made less sense my religious studies. The deeper I dove, the less it seemed solid, right and true. That night I fell asleep with this idea of giving faith a break, I had deep fear and trepidation as I fell asleep, but I awoke with the sense that I was free to think, dream and wonder! Although a few obstacles did stand in my way, namely how to tell my wife of 10 years and our boys. I kept going to church for a few months, but eventually decided it just made me angry. I did not fully grasp how gut wrenching the process would be. I did not share with more than a few friends, but my wife had told a large circle, who were in shock. Some reached out to me to “talk,” but very few were interested in actually hearing what I had to say. It sounds like your wife is more supportive, which is great. I thought for the first 6 months that my wife would never “be okay” again. One of the biggest hurdles in the whole process was finding people I could talk to, who could really engage as I was processing and trying to figure out what “not believing” really meant.

        Feel free to email me directly if you are interested in hearing more or just need a place to vent.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never been involved in the ministering of faith to others, but when I was younger I was really involved in a lot of lay-preaching stuff: leading small sermons, reading bible verses, leading worship with singing/music etc. I won’t go into everything here, but if anyone is interested, my path to deconversion is detailed here:

    https://badgirlbex.wordpress.com/godly-girl-bex/

    Yeah, there’s probably a bit of sweary stuff in there too, now that I think about it!

    Bex

    Liked by 1 person

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