Author Topic: Priests who lose their faith  (Read 1019 times)

Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Priests who lose their faith
« on: August 14, 2016, 08:14:29 AM »
This was prompted by a friend who trained for the priesthood (he didn't complete the course though) and subsequently lost his faith, which led to the question of what priests do when that happens, as it probably does sometimes. By using the term priests I include imams, rabbis and other similar professions.

There are two issues. The personal one is what the individual chooses to do, whether to continue in his job and preach things which he doesn't believe in, or leave and start another career. The latter would potentially be a problem since losing your job in (say) middle age and maybe your tied accomodation would be tough.

Then there is the question of how many clergy - of whatever level - really believe what they say. Some percentage may well have taken the first option and continued their career. How would the congregation feel if they knew?

Maybe there are some people here in this position?
I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Recusant

  • Miscreant Erendrake
  • Administrator
  • Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 5139
  • Gender: Male
  • infidel barbarian
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2016, 09:05:12 AM »
Hello and welcome to HAF, Cirio:blue smiley:

There is at least one member of this site whose life reflects some aspects of your post, but I'll let him speak for himself here, if he wants to.

Have you heard of the Clergy Project?
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2016, 09:39:41 AM »
Thanks for your welcome.

No, I hadn't heard of that project, I'll have a look. Thanks for the link.
I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2016, 11:02:29 AM »
Hmm, I looked at your link. This is the summary of one guy's story:

"I was just doing my job, studying the Bible, asking questions, and seeking answers. If it makes you uncomfortable that a devout and passionate pastor can come to the place where he no longer believes in the God of the Bible – so be it. Be uncomfortable. Be bothered. You really should be (we all should be). But, please, resist the urge to make me a villain. If you are angry that someone stood in the pulpit and told you things that aren’t true. I hear you. I know your pain. The same exact thing happened to me."

Pity he doesn't apologise.
I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Gloucester

  • Touched by His Noodly Appendage
  • *****
  • Posts: 2027
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2016, 12:19:29 PM »
Quote
Pity he doesn't apologise.

Not sure that he needs to actually say, "I am sorry . . ." When his faith meant something to him he was doing no more than any "proselytising" athiest might do, trying to spread the idea that his belief is the right one.

During the transition phase he is, perhaps, to be pitied. In a mental/emotional/intellectual turmoil could he be truly held responsible for not being able to just shout, "Shit!", throw the bible on the fire, walk out and never look back?

Once having broken the ties some expression of remorse might be appropriate. I think he achieved that.

Religion requires some sort of expiation in a positive form for "sins" committed. Are we not more understanding and accepting of individual circumstance and experience than that where the transition is sincere?

If not we should be!
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.

Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2016, 01:01:42 PM »
I think if you make a mistake and mislead people, maybe make their lives and others worse, then you should apologise. He didn't do that. It was all, me, me, I was just doing my job, that's the excuse of people down the ages.

I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Recusant

  • Miscreant Erendrake
  • Administrator
  • Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 5139
  • Gender: Male
  • infidel barbarian
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2016, 01:39:16 PM »
Hmm, I looked at your link. This is the summary of one guy's story:

"I was just doing my job, studying the Bible, asking questions, and seeking answers. If it makes you uncomfortable that a devout and passionate pastor can come to the place where he no longer believes in the God of the Bible – so be it. Be uncomfortable. Be bothered. You really should be (we all should be). But, please, resist the urge to make me a villain. If you are angry that someone stood in the pulpit and told you things that aren’t true. I hear you. I know your pain. The same exact thing happened to me."

Pity he doesn't apologise.

Link to full text.

From reading the above, I don't think that he has a lot to apologise for. Yes, for two years after he finally fully lost his faith, he continued to fulfill the function of pastor to his community, but I question how much we can say that he even maybe made their lives and the lives of others worse. As he describes in the beginning of the essay, he himself was helped by his association with the church. It's a complex situation, and rarely if ever can I say that these people were wrong to do what they did, if they weren't merely bilking people out of money. In fact, even assuming that people like Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen are sincere in their beliefs, I'm more likely to find fault with that sort of preacher than somebody like Morgan.

Quote
But, over the course of the next ten years, I slowly came to the realization that I was wrong – that my teachers and pastors, all those voices on the cassette tapes, were themselves very wrong. Not evil, not dumb, not charlatans – just… blinded by good intentions and wishful thinking, ignorant and misinformed. Just like me.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2016, 01:57:15 PM »
If you think it's OK to lie to people for two years then I guess he did nothing wrong. What did he preach during that time? He doesn't say, so you don't know what the effect on the congregation was.

The broader picture is how many others don't believe what they're preaching but keep on doing it, for whatever reason: security, habit, money, power, influence.
I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Gloucester

  • Touched by His Noodly Appendage
  • *****
  • Posts: 2027
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2016, 01:59:30 PM »
I think if you make a mistake and mislead people, maybe make their lives and others worse, then you should apologise. He didn't do that. It was all, me, me, I was just doing my job, that's the excuse of people down the ages.

Yes, I agree that there was a degree of seeking "forgivehess" there - to  be exoected I think.

We do not know how long ago this man decided he had to get out of his predicament before writing this. I would wager on "not long". This would be a traumaticcevent in most people's lives, not conducive to straight thinking.

When breaking a longish emotional bond, with a parther say, it can take a long time, maybe years of heart rending tension and insincerity, before the break is finally made. Then it can be a case of sudden anger, just walking out, considered apology or grovelling guilt. Out of those perhaps the middle two are the sanest, if one is not quite a mature action.

All for condidered apology, if or when the individual is capable. If not capable is that due to the trauma or to some personsality disorder, maybe sociopathy?
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.

Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2016, 02:08:43 PM »
Someone in a position of trust such as this has to consider things beyond his own situation. Once he realised his position was untenable he should have withdrawn so as to resolve his own issues. Then he should have tried to correct the results of his mistaken actions.
I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Recusant

  • Miscreant Erendrake
  • Administrator
  • Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 5139
  • Gender: Male
  • infidel barbarian
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2016, 02:14:25 PM »
If you think it's OK to lie to people for two years then I guess he did nothing wrong.

Lying is a pretty much universal thing in human relations. The issue is finding the level of harm created by lying.

What did he preach during that time? He doesn't say, so you don't know what the effect on the congregation was.

Yes, I agree, which is why I don't consider myself in a position to judge this person.

The broader picture is how many others don't believe what they're preaching but keep on doing it, for whatever reason: security, habit, money, power, influence.

That's what makes the Clergy Project interesting to me.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2016, 02:23:09 PM »
If you think it's OK to lie to people for two years then I guess he did nothing wrong.

Lying is a pretty much universal thing in human relations. The issue is finding the level of harm created by lying.

What did he preach during that time? He doesn't say, so you don't know what the effect on the congregation was.

Yes, I agree, which is why I don't consider myself in a position to judge this person.

The broader picture is how many others don't believe what they're preaching but keep on doing it, for whatever reason: security, habit, money, power, influence.

That's what makes the Clergy Project interesting to me.

That's a very cynical comment, and one I don't agree with. You should consider your moral position.

I'd lke to know what he preached during that time.

The project seems dedicated to support for the clergy with little regard for the people who were abused.
I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Gloucester

  • Touched by His Noodly Appendage
  • *****
  • Posts: 2027
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2016, 02:23:21 PM »
The sort of priest/vicar who should apologise is one we had near here until he retired.

He got banned from two pubs for being abusive, did his best to ruin the open governance system at the parochial school, refused to do anything about his church users completely blocking the pavement outside his church with their cars, tried to cancel some one's wedding when he decided to go on holiday (at least the church authorities came down like a ton of bricks on that one - he did not go on holiday!) He was not a nice man.

The man in question, as Recusant implied, tried to do his job despite his misgivings. I would not likevto say whether this was from not wishing to openly challenge the beliefs if his parishioners, a genuine pastoral stance, or for fear of his own future. Both would be humanly valid if at opposite ends if the altruism spectrum.
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.

Cirio

  • Beginning to See the Wedge
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2016, 02:30:01 PM »
The sort of priest/vicar who should apologise is one we had near here until he retired.

He got banned from two pubs for being abusive, did his best to ruin the open governance system at the parochial school, refused to do anything about his church users completely blocking the pavement outside his church with their cars, tried to cancel some one's wedding when he decided to go on holiday (at least the church authorities came down like a ton of bricks on that one - he did not go on holiday!) He was not a nice man.

The man in question, as Recusant implied, tried to do his job despite his misgivings. I would not likevto say whether this was from not wishing to openly challenge the beliefs if his parishioners, a genuine pastoral stance, or for fear of his own future. Both would be humanly valid if at opposite ends if the altruism spectrum.

Clearly the old man should have gone, but that's not the point.

Should you try to do your job when you know it's wrong? If you need the employment/accomodation, then that's understandable, maybe. The other reasons? Dubious, at least.
I'm glad I don't have to be afraid of going to hell.....

Gloucester

  • Touched by His Noodly Appendage
  • *****
  • Posts: 2027
  • Gender: Male
Re: Priests who lose their faith
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2016, 02:32:25 PM »

I'd lke to know what he preached during that time.
Probably the same old same old.
The project seems dedicated to support for the clergy with little regard for the people who were abused.
I am sure the everloving church gave the parishioners all the councelling and  sermonising they needed.

I would like to know your qualifications for judging another's morals on a brief encounter ofvthis type. Opinion is one thing, but needs stating as such.
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.